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?

newgirl Fri 26-Apr-13 11:23:13

Yes talk to the head

Perhaps suggest another assembly with 18 women 2 men

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Fri 26-Apr-13 11:26:44

i would speak to the head aswell. you've already adressed it with the teacher and been ignored.

this is unacceptable IMO. as newgirl says, suggest the opposite and see the response!

PromQueenWithin Fri 26-Apr-13 11:29:19

I would mention it if I were you. Perhaps you could be helpful and suggest a list of 18 significant people who are also female? Then they would have less of an excuse.

Starting with the fact that Mary the first, was the first ever women to rule Britian. This is an oft overlooked feature of her reign!

slug Fri 26-Apr-13 11:46:41

Empress Matilda preceeded Mary by a few hundred years

PromQueenWithin Fri 26-Apr-13 11:50:05

Eleanor of Aquitaine was pretty cool, I think.

Here's a list of 'Important Women Through History' apparently.

notcitrus Fri 26-Apr-13 11:53:35

What about suggesting an assembly about who gets remembered by history (wealthy men, ruling men, men with support of money, legal status and wives to pursue their inventing or art, and the odd activist), and just because history doesn't record others doesn't mean they weren't important.

Suggesting names is good too but insisting on equality risks looking like scraping the barrel, which is why I think an assembly on why most names from history are male and usually also rich, white and non-disabled, would be more help.

flybynight Fri 26-Apr-13 11:56:07

I shall speak to the head then. Once I'm feeling a bit less adrenal about it. I'm one of these conflict averse people that gets very red in the face and a bit spitty when riled.

So

Nancy Astor
Elizabeth Fry
Catherine the Great
Cleopatra
Coco Chanel
Rosa Parkes
Nina Simone
Martina Navratilova
Boudicca
Florence Nightingale
Margaret Thatcher
Indira Ghandi
Benazir Bhutto
The Brontes
Mary Seacole
Mary Cassatt
Grace Darling
Gertrude Jekyll

Suggestions please.

notcitrus Fri 26-Apr-13 11:56:58

Matilda only ruled England, not Britain. And mostly while Stephen had control of parts of England. Still an impressive ruler, though.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 26-Apr-13 12:09:24

Williams sisters are a good current example. They have forced tennis authorities to consider the women's game as on a par with the men's.

Emmeline Pankhurst
Harriet Beecher Stowe

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 26-Apr-13 12:10:33

What men did they mention? Curious to know what the school considers to be 'significant'? Famous, influential, notorious, thought-provoking?

cornydash Fri 26-Apr-13 12:11:52

Malala Yousafzai

Fuzzysnout Fri 26-Apr-13 12:14:39

Rosalind Franklin who played a key role in determing the structure of DNA with Crick & Watson but died early without recognition.

FrequentFlyerRandomDent Fri 26-Apr-13 12:18:30
battyralphie Fri 26-Apr-13 12:20:04

Lise Meitner, who was overlooked for a nobel prize
Amelia Earhart
Wangari Muta Maathai

FrequentFlyerRandomDent Fri 26-Apr-13 12:20:15

My DD's heroes: female astronauts.

Miggsie Fri 26-Apr-13 12:21:04

Professor Uta Frith - pioneer of autism research
Rosalind Franklin - her discovery led to the discovery of DNA - Crick and Watson could not have done it without her research
Mary Shelley - there would be no Percy Shelley without her - she pushed his work after his death - he was ignored in his lifetime
Clara Schumann - in her lifetime she was more famous than her composer husband
Mary Woolstonecraft
Florence Nightingale
Elizabeth the First
Marie Stopes
Mary Anning - doscovered first dinosaur fossil in England - could not join the Royal Academy becuase she was a woman but contributed hugely to Englsh knowledge and shamefully overlooked!!!!

Waspie Fri 26-Apr-13 12:21:05

A vote to include Caroline Herschel a very influential astronomer

Booboobedoo Fri 26-Apr-13 12:22:51

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

amistillsexy Fri 26-Apr-13 12:22:52

Amy Johnson always makes me feel proud!

While we're on the subject, can I bang my own particular drum and ask how many of the 'significant people' were disabled? I dread to think...

sad

cornydash Fri 26-Apr-13 12:24:43

Temple Grandin

Don't forget scientists - for example Ada Lovelace, Lise Meitner, Emmy Noether, Rosalind Franklin, Henrietta Leavitt, the perennial favourite Marie Curie. Or Wangari Maathai, Rachel Carson, Dian Fossey or Jane Goodall.

Artists: Mary Cassatt, Frida Kahlo

Pharaoh Hatshepsut

Irina Sendler

Ruby Bridges. Harriet Tubman (OK, those may be a bit US-specific, although I'd argue not)

But yes, yes, give us the list of men...

Chandon Fri 26-Apr-13 12:27:06

Angela Merkel (like her or loathe her)
Cleopatra
Queen Elizabeth I
Germaine Greer
Susie Orbach
Pippa Middleton (kidding!)

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

Aung San Suu Kyi

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.

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Fri 26-Apr-13 12:58:27

A Thing Sorry, i meant it is relevant but in a different way- they should have focused on why there were so few famous women rather than making the numbers equal.

dragongirlx Fri 26-Apr-13 12:58:29

What about Laura Bates - Everyday Sexism Project

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 26-Apr-13 12:58:45

AThing - x-posts. Great minds... wink

totallystumped Fri 26-Apr-13 12:59:30

IIRC Queen Anne was the first Queen Regnant of Britain.
Mary and Elizabeth were Queens (Regnant) of England and Ireland
Other queens were Queens Consort (Queen only because they married the king)

Are these supposed to be the twenty MOST significant people in the world ever, or just a selection of twenty significant people?

If the former, then WTF on a whole scale of bogglement quite above and beyond the gender imbalance. If (as seems overwhelmingly more likely) it's the latter then there's no reason they can't ensure equal representation.

slug Fri 26-Apr-13 13:00:03

Off the top of my head

Science/Computing/Engineering
Hypatia
Grace Hopper
Ada Lovelace
Sally Ride
Rosalind Franklin
Jane Goodall
Amelia Earhart

Politics/Economics
Mo Mowlam
Christine Lagarde
Indira Gandhi
The Pankhursts
Helen Clark (longest serving female PM in a Western Democracy)
Mary Wollenstonecraft
Kate Sheppard (my NZ bias is showing)

Humanitarianism
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee, Tawakkol Karman (Nobel Peace Prize 2011)
Rosa Parks
Marie Stopes (despite the eugenics)

There are many sites that list plenty of notable women

HalleLouja Fri 26-Apr-13 13:01:35

Was going to suggest Maggie.

DumSpiroSpero Fri 26-Apr-13 13:02:53

I would definitely be raging have words, not least about their choice of the Queen as one of the two significant women on the list.

With the best will in the world, she was just born to the right family. Not saying she hasn't done the job to the best of her ability, but she's hardly comparable with the likes of Szabo, Pankhurst, Curie et al.

AThingInYourLife Fri 26-Apr-13 13:03:39

"Why not Jessica Ennis instead of Mo Farah, or Madonna instead of Michael Jackson?"

Ali, sometimes I think I am just a defective version of you smile

Richman - yes I agree. An "equal" list would fool nobody. Although they could have done it with that list without raising eyebrows.

oohaveabanana Fri 26-Apr-13 13:03:52

So Pele & Jensen Button are 2 of the most significant people ever? Wha?

I think there are some bigggggg questions about that list!

Culturally, I really stuggle to see Tolkien as the most influential writer since the 8th century, or however far back they're going. I reckon most people might just pop that Shakespeare chap higher....

Agree with richmanpoorman that other than the 'ticking two boxes' thing, it's hard to see TGT, fab as she is, as being more 'significant' than the Pankhursts or Queen Elizabeth I.....

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 26-Apr-13 13:04:53

She's more significant than Mo Farrah though.....

Am shock at that list.
I was going to say go with notcitrus' idea of why it's always the white men who get remembered, but that list is awful and needs challenging.

AThingInYourLife Fri 26-Apr-13 13:05:31

To put the Queen on and leave off Thatcher is bizarre.

Like her or loathe her, she was an extremely influential politician.

VirtuousVamp Fri 26-Apr-13 13:05:52

Anne Frank/Helen Keller/ even JK Rawling.....!

Was it a class initiated list which probably says more about the facts children are currently aware of than the guidance of the teacher? Which looking at that list is worrying in itself!! Everyone knows Coulthard is the one to go for!! wink

seeker Fri 26-Apr-13 13:09:46

I was so depressed that my dd did is in year 12 and in the 6 years she's been studying history in an girl's school there hasn't even been a nod to women's history. It's not even available as a GCSE topic!

AThingInYourLife Fri 26-Apr-13 13:09:49

Even if it were class initiated, the teacher's job was to challenge them and encourage critical thinking.

That list is so lazy.

AThingInYourLife Fri 26-Apr-13 13:10:50

seeker! shock

That is shameful.

PhyllisDoris Fri 26-Apr-13 13:19:48

Got to have Queen Elizabeth II surely?
Virginia Wade
Stella McCartney
Margaret Thatcher (she WAS the first ever female PM, politics aside)
Helen Sharman (British female astronaut)
Rosa Parks
Diane Abbot
Nancy Astor - first female MP
Margot Fontey - great ballet dancer

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 26-Apr-13 13:22:23

Seeker I am in two minds about 'women's history' as a separate subject. On the one hand it is of course absolutely important, but on the other to segregate it into it's own topic as if it is somehow 'other' to mainstream history is not what's needed, IMO.

Schools need to be better at correcting the male bias and pointing out that it exists.

DS1 is only in Reception so we haven't really come up against this issue yet, but I do keep my beady eye out!

AThing defective! shock grin

flybynight Fri 26-Apr-13 13:25:39

I believe that the children chose the content, but there was obviously some guidance going on or the medieval Indian mathematician wouldn't have made the list. He was included purely to lasso in the current maths topic for coverage.

It is easy for children to choose male figures, history is full of successful white men as we know. The role if teacher should have been to ensure balance, and perhaps a bit of debate about the nature of history. I think he failed in this quite spectacularly, particularly as it had already been pointed out to him 10 days before. And that was long before he started planning the assembly.

seeker Fri 26-Apr-13 13:26:32

I agree up to a point. However, as dd studied the American Civil Rights movement twice, and it was also a possible A level topic.....

seeker Fri 26-Apr-13 13:27:53

Fortunately for dd (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view!) I was fully able to fill in the gaps..........

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 26-Apr-13 13:31:05

Ah, but civil rights was primarily a man thing. So that's OK. grin sad

MmeThenardier Fri 26-Apr-13 13:34:05

Jensen fucking Button? I'm just incensed that he was included in the absence of hundreds of women.

Wow this teacher must really lack imagination or be incredibly stupid.

MiniTheMinx Fri 26-Apr-13 13:34:14

Women's history.........you can't leave out Gerda Lerner

Lerner was one of the founders of the field of women's history introducing courses into H.E specifically aimed at uncovering women's history.

and can I suggest

Clara Zetkin
Julia Scurr
Rosa Luxemburg

grimbletart Fri 26-Apr-13 14:15:28

Jenson Button - extraordinary. If they are insisting on a racing driver then he is way less "significant" that many other British racing drivers e.g. Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart.

Some scientists....

Caroline Herschel
Mary Somerville
Maria Mitchell
Lise Meitner
Barbara McClintock
Dorothy Hodgkin

Leafmould Fri 26-Apr-13 14:23:34

Don't wait for your adrenal glands to calm down. Your adrenal glands are correct. Please don't let it go without comment... The whole project stinks. Significant, or just celebrated?

UptoapointLordCopper Fri 26-Apr-13 17:12:08

Can we have Hedy Lamarr please? I've only just discovered her - invented spread spectrum communications so we can have mobile phones and stuff. Wiki entry:

"Mathematically talented, Lamarr also co-invented—with composer George Antheil—an early technique for spread spectrum communications and frequency hopping, necessary for wireless communication from the pre-computer age to the present day."

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 26-Apr-13 17:20:02

Jocelyn Bell Burnett
George Eliot
Agatha Christie
Aretha Franklin

MaryRobinson Fri 26-Apr-13 17:34:13
MmeThenardier Fri 26-Apr-13 19:05:54

Coming back to the thread to say I'm still incensed even hours later.

What kind of education is this? Just reinforcing the knowledge base that junior school children have that has already been shaped by a media that remains heavily biased in favour of reporting on male sports personalities, text books, that put emphasis on male figures and a history of male rule.

I don't even ask for half and half just some equivalent figures for eg if you've got Mo farrah how can you not have Jess Ennis, or Paula Radcliffe? (Radcliffe's held the womens marathon record for years now but no all the media want to do is refer to the fact that she may have once had a dump on the floor)

Or better still a discussion of how women have been underrepresented over the years and how it may make their achievements even greater. How much harder they've had to work to reach the same place as men.

And breathe...

Upto I wanted Hedy on my baby name list, but XH vetoed, which doubly sucks as we met studying Electronic Engineering!

K8Middleton Fri 26-Apr-13 19:22:27

Jensen Button and Michael frithing Jackson?? shock

Complain. I am really surprised the teacher didn't even reply.

Leafmould Fri 26-Apr-13 19:36:03

Mmethenardier...... Thank you for Articulating

What kind of education is this? Just reinforcing the knowledge base that junior school children have that has already been shaped by a media that remains heavily biased in favour of reporting on male sports personalities, text books, that put emphasis on male figures and a history of male rule.

I was unable to do so. Thank you thank you.

DaffodilAdams Fri 26-Apr-13 20:36:32

Irena Sendler
Just heard about her recently.

Seems like history lessons haven't changed since I was at school. Still focusing around white, mainly English or English speaking men. Oh goody.

flybynight Fri 26-Apr-13 20:43:33

MmeThenardier, I am going to use much of that in my letter to the head. She's never there, so I'll have to write. I express myself better in writing anyway.

Travelincolour would you have chosen just Hedy, or the full Hedwig?

SconeRhymesWithGone Fri 26-Apr-13 21:38:19

Ah, but civil rights was primarily a man thing.

True, but it helped give birth to second wave feminism.

Just Hedy - too much Harry Potter or rock music otherwise!

stargirl1701 Fri 26-Apr-13 21:48:19

One of my pupils did a project on Sally Ride. I had never heard of her. My pupil taught me a great deal.

Kelziz Sat 27-Apr-13 00:15:02

Baroness Hale of Richmond - the first female law lord (unfortunately still the only one).

FairPhyllis Sat 27-Apr-13 01:40:47

Here's a rough like-for-like by field of achievement list:

Martina Navratilova
Jessica Ennis
Madonna
Cathy Freeman
Aretha Franklin
Dorothy Hodgkin
Aung San Suu Kyi
George Eliot
Agatha Christie
Clara Schumann
Caroline Herschel
Ada Lovelace
Hypatia
Frida Kahlo
Mary Cassatt
Margaret Thatcher

Ouchmyhead Sat 27-Apr-13 02:25:32

I completely agree with you, but why don't you try talking to the teacher first? I'm a teacher, and it is so easy to fogey to respond to letters, or not feel comfortable replying to issues with parents via letter (incase they were lost/read.) I think you'd probably get a really positive response if you approached her in person with your views. If she doesn't respond then and you are still unhappy approach the head, but I think that won't be necessary if you went in for a chat.

Ouch OP knows that the (male) teacher read the note before the assembly.

AThingInYourLife Sat 27-Apr-13 09:38:28

Great list, FairPhyllis smile

WouldBeHarrietVane Sat 27-Apr-13 09:54:16

What a bizarre list in terms of the men on it as well as the women. So many celebs and sporting people as to be unbalanced and a weird choice of people.

I would have thought (off the top of my head) of:

Queen Elizabeth I
Queen Victoria
Florence Nightingale
Jane Austen
Mrs Beaton
Pankhursts
Margaret Thatcher
Rosa Parks
Ruth First
George Elliott
Virginia Woolf

And then if we MUST have a list looking like it was drawn up by Heat Magazine why exclude:

Madonna
Williams sisters
Rebecca Addlington

WouldBeHarrietVane Sat 27-Apr-13 09:55:32

Why aren't Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King on it?

PigletJohn Sat 27-Apr-13 10:03:37

Jocelyn Bell Burnell, the woman who discovered pulsars, for which her (male) supervisor received a Nobel prize.

ihearsounds Sat 27-Apr-13 11:18:52

Eileen Collins
Laura Bridgeman
Anna Freud
Wangari Maathai
Clara Barton
Calamity Jane
Tonya Harding
Jane Torvill
Tessa Sanderson
Zola Budd
Joan of Arc
Helen Keller
Ann Macy
Eva Peron
Mother Teressa
Lily Maxwell
the Pankhursts
Elizabeth Anderson
Elizabeth Blackwell
Susan Anthony
Grace hopper
Ella Fitzgerald
Dolores Huerta
Jackie Joyner-Kersee
Frida Kahloe
Sacagawea
Sappho
Harriet Tubman
Ellie Simmonds (dont know how any school cannot mention this young lady)
Pocahontas
Harriet Stowe
Anne Frank
Jean Driscoll
Ann Bancroft
Marla Runyan

K8Middleton Sat 27-Apr-13 12:00:06

I'm going to have to google many of these. It's going to take me hours angry grin

Sadly I don't have to google most of the men. What a woeful education system we have that we really only cover the 'history' [inverted commas because the manipulation of the truth is blindingly obvious] of white, privileged, western men sad

ihearsounds Sat 27-Apr-13 12:58:39

Just thought of a few more.
Nancy Astor.
Sirimavo Bandaranaike
Simone de Beauvoir
Aphra Behn
Louise Boyd
Pearl Buck aka Sai Zhenzhu
Marie Anne de Cupis de Camargo
Another great sports person, Billie Jean King.
Patsy Cline
Grace Kelly.
Billie Holiday
Virginia Apgar
Agnes de Mille

On the male list the school should have also mentioned Captain Chesley Sullenberger. He's the bloke that landed the plane on the Hudson River.

There is no reason to not talk about the important females. Teachers just need to be creative in how they bring these people into conversation. Not everything is text book, at least not for us. We talk about Aphra for example when we talk about literary writers, afterall she was the first female professional writer.

VerySmallSqueak Sat 27-Apr-13 13:58:06

I second cornydash with Malala Yousafzai.

perhaps there should be an assembly on her,or the Suffragettes,or the nurses in the Second World War.

hermioneweasley Sat 27-Apr-13 14:00:47

Agree that it's very poor and I would complain to the head since the teacher has chosen to ignore your entirely legitimate point.

Lessthanaballpark Sat 27-Apr-13 14:09:13

OP, YANBU. It's important that you challenge it because it's exactly this kind of thing that happens early on in a child's life and puts the idea in his/her head that man = norm and that men have done all the important things in history.

It's such crap, because it doesn't take much scratching beneath the surface to find loads of women that have contributed and have done so with considerable more disadvantage than their male counterparts.

If schools are going to teach this biased version of history they have a duty to point out to their pupils exactly why there are so few women in the hall of fame.

It's just lazy teaching all round.

MsJupiterJones Sat 27-Apr-13 15:49:41

That is so depressing but what an inspiring list of women everyone has come up with. I was going to suggest Anne Frank and Mary Wollstonecraft.

I can understand why they wanted to make the list populist and relatable but even more reason to make it equal men and women. Teachers should be taking every opportunity to do this, not act like the media with tokenistic gestures.

50shadesofvomit Sat 27-Apr-13 16:47:50

I have a dd in y5 so asked her for 1o significant people. This is her list with her reason in brackets

-Jessica Ennis (for winning Olympic gold)
-Queen Elizabeth I(for keeping our country safe from Catholics and being a good Queen)
-Henry VIII (for making us Protestant)
-David Beckham (for being our most famous footballer and helping get the Olympics)
-Simon Cowell (for being recognised in loads of countries and loads of people watch him on TV)
-JK Rowling (for writing Harry Potter)
- Tim Berners Lee (for inventing the Internet)
- the Queen (everybody made a big fuss about The Jubilee and Royal Wedding so she must be important)
-Ellie Simmonds (for winning Paralympic gold)
-Walt Disney (because everyone has watched a Disney movie)

I know it's pretty narrow but she's only 10 and would agree with Nelson's Mandela and other genuinely significant people if prompted.

wonderstuff Sat 27-Apr-13 17:07:39

I think that the teaching of history needs a shake up across the UK, I would imagine very few children get taught much women's history, because sadly not enough people feel its important.

I was gutted a couple of weeks ago to be supporting in a lesson where the teacher proclaimed that Oliver Cromwell wanted the country to be run by 'the people' sad I felt I had to speak up and say actually 'people' implied that women were involved. The teacher looked at me blankly like it had never occurred to her.

flybynight - hoping this cheers you up. My son in Yr 3 is also doing significant people. They each had to research a significant person over easter and next Tues are performing their significant person at the class assembly. DS is going as Katy from "I can cook". No sexism here smile

(We can debate "significant" all day long - but DS is happy and that's good enough for me!)

FairPhyllis Sat 27-Apr-13 19:54:56

I totally agree with the post about this kind of teaching only reinforcing a y5 child's male sports star and celebrity centered view of the world. School is supposed to expand children's worlds. sad

AThingInYourLife Sat 27-Apr-13 21:56:44

"-Queen Elizabeth I(for keeping our country safe from Catholics and being a good Queen)"

shock grin

Where is she at school? In an Orange lodge?

grin

Safe from Catholics? grin

K8Middleton Sat 27-Apr-13 22:29:10

Lol I spotted that too. Militant Church school?

qumquat Mon 29-Apr-13 19:27:49

Not only queen elizabeth keeping us safe from Catholics, also Henry vii a hero for making the country Protestant? I'd be slightly alarmed about the messages this child is absorbing!

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 29-Apr-13 20:20:29

Standard MN messages, surely? sad

Creeping Wed 01-May-13 22:12:38

Jeanne d'Arc (Joan of Arc)

Creeping Wed 01-May-13 22:18:24

Wonderstuff - Good point you made there! Becoming aware of how limited our history is requires making explicit that 'people' used to mean 'men only'. It still does to a very large extent, but pointing this out throughout our history, not just when discussing the suffragette movement, must help with understanding that we have only documented half our history.

DonDrapersAltrEgoBigglesDraper Wed 01-May-13 23:04:23

No-one's said Henry's a hero for making the UK Protestant; just that he's significant, and like it or not, the break from Rome was hugely significant in Britain's history. Awful man that he was.

Elizabeth keeping the UK safe from marauding Catholics, on the other hand, is grin

Wonderstuff - love your point re OC, must remember that one when 'people' really is used as a synonym for 'men'...

morethanpotatoprints Wed 01-May-13 23:09:54

Maybe, even though it was an assembly they were addressing the women covered by the NC. if this is the case you're barking up the wrong tree.
Maybe it wasn't linked and they were being lazy, either way not a good result.
Sometimes, unfortunately you have to teach them the things that are important to you/them yourself grin

Am going into hiding from 50shades' daughter before I get burned at the stake for being a papist...grin

ReallyTired Wed 01-May-13 23:22:25

That is depressing. I would have expected the list of famous men to prehaps include founders of major religions like Muhammed, Jesus or Budda or people who really changed the way we think like William Shakesphere, Gallieo, Newton or Einstein.

There loads of famous women in lots of different walks of life.

Cleopatra
Jane Austin
Bronte sisters
Queen Victoria
Mother Thersea
Mrs Gandi
Mrs Thatcher
Mary mother of Jesus
The six wives of henry 8th
Bloody Mary
Queen Elizabeth I
Princess Diana

Prehaps an interesting question is to ask children what makes someone significant?

masterchef1 Thu 02-May-13 03:38:07

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

VerySmallSqueak Thu 02-May-13 09:28:20

I was relieved the other day to find out that my eldest DD (8) has learnt about the Suffragettes - this discussion prompted me to ask her - and as a result of this thread I shall be watching closely what she is taught in history from now on,so thank you flybynight thanks.

specialsubject Thu 02-May-13 12:23:30

lots of wonderful scientists and doctors already mentioned - I can only add Sophia Jex-Blake.

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