My daughter's assembly - am I overreacting?

(121 Posts)
flybynight Fri 26-Apr-13 11:20:02

My y5 daughter is studying "significant people" this term. On the first day, she came home effusing about all the significant people they had looked at. She reeled off a list of about 25 men and, with prompting, remembered 2 women. Tanni Grey Thompson and Marie Curie. Very good.

I wrote a friendly note to her teacher pointing out that the male female ratio there could be misconstrued and that, regardless of history's bias in favour of men, children could easily think that men were more "significant" than women. There was no response to the note which is fine. I do know he read it though as my daughter saw him.

Anyway, today was assembly. All about significant people. 18 men mentioned. Two women. I'm really dismayed. And angry. Women's history is intrinsic and equal to my mind. Not a ghetto or a side street.

What should I do? I'm thinking speak to the head. I don't want to make a big fuss (typical woman!) but my gut instinct is that this is not right. What would you do? What would Germaine do?

SuffolkNWhat Fri 26-Apr-13 12:27:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PromQueenWithin Fri 26-Apr-13 12:27:23

I think nocitrus's idea about an assembly that highlights why so many "significant" people are in fact white and male is a brilliant idea actually. I try and explore issues like this with dc and I think it can be explained in a way that they understand. That's more important to understand and should come before the unsung heroes, to provide useful context as to why they might be unsung.

But also, for the list, Rosa Parks.

Chandon Fri 26-Apr-13 12:27:49

Amelia Ehrhard

PromQueenWithin Fri 26-Apr-13 12:28:13

<whispers> Maggie?

Significant, certainly.

Blu Fri 26-Apr-13 12:28:44
KingRollo Fri 26-Apr-13 12:28:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 26-Apr-13 12:31:26

Evelyn Glennie.
Sarah Storey
Ellie Simmonds
Marie Curie
Violette Szabo
Edith Cavel
Phillippa Fawcett

Just to make an extra point (although I completely agree with yours)
Thinking about figures in history a long time ago, don't forget it was hard to get any recognition as a female, so although they were there, it was the men that got all the glory and fame.

jennybeadle Fri 26-Apr-13 12:37:31

That you should even have to think about going to the HT just makes me seriously cross. They should know better, and considering things like this should be intrinsic to the teachers work.
angry angry angry
You've got a great list building here.

flybynight Fri 26-Apr-13 12:37:47

The men were:
Jensen Button
Mo Farrar
Michael Jackson
Pele
Elvis
Einstein
Ghandi
J R Tolkien
Roald Dahl
Beethoven
Isaac Newton
Galileo
9th century Indian mathematician who invented the zero concept
Paul Cezanne
Vincent Van Gogh
Winston Churchill

And two others. Sorry! I was counting, not taking notes.

The women were JK Rowling and the Queen.

The deafness of Beethoven was mentioned, so yes, that was the only nod to disability.

docket Fri 26-Apr-13 12:38:12

YANBU. I think you need to get an idea of how the school are defining 'significant' and then think of appropriate female examples. I think notcitrus has a good point but I agree it's appalling for them to have done this.

docket Fri 26-Apr-13 12:40:28

x-posts. FFS, how can they justify having the Queen on there, as one of only 2 women?! So Elvis, Michael Jackson and Jenson Button made it onto the list ahead of any other female candidates?!! I'm speechless...

Booboobedoo Fri 26-Apr-13 12:41:33

Mo Mowlam

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 26-Apr-13 12:45:07

I'd be concerned about more than the sexism. I'd be concerned that anyone anywhere thought that Jensen Button was in any way significant. And I'd seriously be asking if him, then why not Lewis Hamilton?

outtolunchagain Fri 26-Apr-13 12:45:11

what about the Pankhurst sisters and the whole womens suffrage movement,Queen Victoria ,Anna Freud,Jane Austen,Golda Meier ,Helen Keller

Hulababy Fri 26-Apr-13 12:46:33

Whilst I agree that it should definitely be more equal do check first re the assembly and who actually chose the people to include. In the assemblies I have done in y1 and y2 the children do most of the planning for the content.

drjohnsonscat Fri 26-Apr-13 12:50:26

Jensen effing Button?

Ada Lovelace. One of the founding "fathers" hmm of computing.

And yes you can bloody well put M Thatcher on there as well. You can absolutely hate her if you like but she sure as hell was more significant than Jensen Button.

The white male theme is so embedded that people don't even see it.

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Fri 26-Apr-13 12:51:39

I think we need to know who the men were. The issue is that there are not that many women who have shaped the world to the extent that many men have, and the fact that this is largely because they haven't been given the opportunity to is unfortunately irrelevant. To an extent, the lesson may be better learned by talking about why there aren't many women on the list than by pretending that it was all equal.

I would have issue with the women they chose tbh. I mean TGT vs. Thatcher. Sorry, whatever you think of Thatcher, there's no contest there. You can see that they were thinking "ooh, we need a disabled person. Ooh TGT- we can cover women and disabled people in one person. Great."

AThingInYourLife Fri 26-Apr-13 12:52:13

If contemporary popstars and athletes are on the list, it's even worse.

No Jessica Ennis?

No Madonna?

notcitrus Fri 26-Apr-13 12:53:42

What a bizarre list! And I say that as an F1 fan.
I think hulababy must be right and the children chose the people from ones they had already heard of. Which makes a list of real achievers and world-changers even more important.

AThingInYourLife Fri 26-Apr-13 12:54:55

"the fact that this is largely because they haven't been given the opportunity to is unfortunately irrelevant."

It's absolutely relevant, and should have been part of the lesson.

Otherwise it's just teaching children to accept the history if the powerful without questioning it.

kneedeepindaisies Fri 26-Apr-13 12:55:49

Jensen Button??? shock

That list makes me a bit stabby.

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Fri 26-Apr-13 12:56:58

Wtff? that is the weirdest list I've ever seen.

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 26-Apr-13 12:57:18

What that school is crying out for is an assembly on the nature of fame, celebrity and actual lasting worthwhile achievement and the interaction between those things.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 26-Apr-13 12:57:57

How depressing that list of men is!

So famous was the main criteria? Why not Jessica Ennis instead of Mo Farah, or Madonna instead of Michael Jackson?

Hula I take your point about the content being generated by the children, but the teachers should have been encouraging a discussion that generated a much more representative list IMO. Otherwise what is the point? The children come up with a list of people who they already know about and recognise their contribution (minimal for some on that list) and learn nothing new.

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