It was a tradition that followed years ago at Shallowater High School in northwest Texas. For one day, the senior boys were wearing a suit and tie, and the girls were wearing frocks and heels.
The boys addressed the girls as “milky”, doors were open to them and helped them to their seats in class or at lunch. The girls had to follow the boys and they were not allowed to show “intellectual superiority” or to complain or refuse any kind of complaint.
The rules were part of an assignment by an English teacher who had used it for years to show students in her class how women were considered inferior under the Medieval Children’s Code. But this year, the school in Shalotar, a town of about 2,500 people 12 miles northwest of Lubbock, canceled the lesson amid complaints from parents that asking girls to act for subjugation is the wrong way Who teach them about sex and history.
As revocation many schools are re-examining traditions that are now being recognized as outdated, sexist or racist. It also highlights how, according to the students Well-meaning lesson plans can backfire.
“I don’t think it was the teacher’s intention to have this kind of sexist lesson,” said 18-year-old Hannah Caren, a senior in high school. “There were girls who were excited to finally do it and dress up.”
“But there were many who were obviously upset about it,” he said.
School officials declined requests for an interview and the teacher did not respond to requests for comment.
In a statement, the school district superintendent, Anita Hebert, stated that the assignment was removed and “the matter has been addressed with the teacher.”
“This assignment has been reviewed, and despite its historical context, it does not reflect our district and community values,” Dr. Hebert said.
The practice was scheduled to take place on Wednesday. Female and male students, who were reading “Beowulf” and Chaucer’s works, were given an assignment sheet describing 11 “rules of chivalry”. They will be given 10 marks for every rule.
The boys were asked at any time by a female student or faculty member to enter a room, to avoid profanity or “obscene words” and to “allow the women before they exit the room.”
Girls had to walk behind men or “walk slowly, as if their legs are tied”; “A low head and a curse” with men; “Cleaning up” after his male classmates; And “follow any reasonable request” from a man.
According to 18-year-old Colin Tynes Lane, a senior, the teacher feared backlash and said that students who were uncomfortable with the assignment might write a one-page essay instead.
In the past, Mr. Lane said, the teacher had given parents and teachers a written disclaimer stating that the project’s goal was to show how the Chivalric Code was designed to obscure stereotypes that harm women. Was used.
“That’s what was trying to grab our attention,” he said. “It was not courtesy by any means.”
Still, he said, he felt unhappy at the idea of dealing with students, which he is used to arguing with and disrespecting.
“It definitely made me uncomfortable and I’d say it was his goal,” Mr Lane said. “At the same time, I understood why some people would be crazy.”
Ms. Carron, who has an English class with the same teacher, but the curriculum that does not include etiquette assignments, said she would most likely have written the essay.
“It is important to show how far women have come, but why do we have to do this to understand it?” he said.
Jaiden Landers, another senior in the class, said that there had always been some resistance to the assignment, but in recent weeks the debate among students had become more charged.
It was unclear how many parents complained, but students said at least one parent complained to the school board.
By Wednesday, most students knew the project had been canceled, Mr. Landers said.
By then, a photo of the assignment was posted to a Facebook group created by parents and circulated to another parent group, where 23-year-old Brandi D., a freelance journalist, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Addison Davis saw it.
Role-playing can be an effective educational tool, but teachers need to be very careful that they are not reinforcing negative gender and racial attitudes, by April Peter-Hawkins, a sixth-grade former teacher who is now the head of school leadership. Professor is University of Houston College of Education.
“We usually see marginalized groups,” he said. “Black children are being asked to play the role of slaves, Jewish children are being asked to play the role of victims of the Holocaust and girls are being asked to subsist.”
Mr. Landers said he hoped that the teachers, whom he cared for and well-liked, would find another way to examine the malaise of that era beyond studying old texts to students.
“I think a lot of people are trying to cover history; We should not do this. “If men, especially teenage boys, see how girls were treated in the 1300s, they would be able to better understand how women are treated today.”