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As a TA, how do I (or do I?) raise this with a teacher?

(37 Posts)
dotdotdotmustdash Fri 19-Jan-18 19:28:30

Hello.

I'm a TA in a large state school. I have only been there since the beginning of the school year so I don't know all the teachers well, but I do enjoy it and find it supportive and friendly.

There is something that's been bugging me since I first started and I would like some advice on how to handle it. I attend a computing class once a week with a child. It's a tricky class for behaviour so I haven't talked to the teacher other than a hello and goodbye every week so I'm not sure if he's the person to mention this to.

On the wall in the classroom there is a large display of a project that a class has put a lot of work into. They have produced posters about women who were instrumental in the development of computing. The display is great, it's bright, colourful and full of information but they all have the same title, which I presume is the brief they were given.

I imagine if this had been a project about men they would have been called inventors, creators, pioneers or scientists or something similarly positive. Unfortunately the title of this project is 'DotComDivas'.

It's not a huge issue, but I really want to say something to someone about the casual sexism and point out that 'Diva' is a word with negative connotations. I even checked the dictionary definitions, and other than opera singers, the definitions are something along the lines of 'women who are demanding, spoiled or self-absorbed'.

I could mention it to my PT but he's very busy and I don't think he would take it anywhere. I don't know if this particular teacher even set the project (his name isn't on the door), I could mention it to the department head but I don't know her either and I don't want to be a stranger whose first contact is to criticise her department. Do I go to the very pleasant Head with his constantly-open door? I guess the sensible thing is just to leave it, but I suspect this is a project which is repeated with every year group class.

The school works really hard to promote STEM subjects in female pupils - it seems a shame to display something so contrary to their ethos.

OP’s posts: |
Cynderella Fri 19-Jan-18 20:58:51

I would say that you keep quiet.

You're not responsible for displays, and while I completely see your point, it isn't your place to say anything.

MiserableAsSin Fri 19-Jan-18 21:39:12

It's bloody stupid but I would keep quiet about it

mercurymaze Fri 19-Jan-18 21:42:33

I would say something in a jokey but serious way iykwim can you not speak to anyone informally

rcit Fri 19-Jan-18 21:47:38

I'd keep quiet
It was a step in the right direction to promote computing to female students
OK it wasn't perfect
but then if you say "disco diva" it doesn't mean stroppy etc I don't think.

user789653241 Fri 19-Jan-18 21:48:17

Isn't that a name of the book?

www.amazon.de/DotCom-Divas-profiles-Successful-Companies/dp/0071362428

MaisyPops Fri 19-Jan-18 21:48:20

I wouldn't raise it.
It's a bit daft and cheesy but it's a positive project and the class have enjoed it and got something from it.

When deciding whether to raise things at school I always think what do i want to achieve? will raising it achieve it? What wpuld be the side effects?
In this case, raising an issue over a tiny non issue just creates an issue where there doesn't need to be, risks being critical of a project which students have gained lots from and risks making you seem like a busybody.

lougle Fri 19-Jan-18 22:11:24

Diva is quite a contextual word, I think. It can be used negatively or positively. The title of the project uses alteration, which is catchy. It makes you want to read on. The content of the work is positive, interesting and engaging, so it obviously didn't affect the work negatively.

So, this time, move on.

dotdotdotmustdash Fri 19-Jan-18 22:19:42

I'm really not sure that it's ever used positively to describe a woman. It's certainly not a word which expresses any respect for their great achievements.

I understand that it's being used for it's alliterative quality, but I do think it's sexism - subtle and cheerful - but still sexism.

I will probably leave it, but I'm annoyed.

OP’s posts: |
MaisyPops Sat 20-Jan-18 08:58:15

It's clearly being used positively on a display and project which celebrates women in STEM and their acheivements.

To find something negative in a very positive piece of work feels a bit 'looking to be offended'.

TheFallenMadonna Sat 20-Jan-18 09:04:28

A diva is an outstanding female opera singer. It is certainly used with respect in that context.

cansu Sat 20-Jan-18 09:07:09

Raising this will do you no favours. Keep out if it.

dotdotdotmustdash Sat 20-Jan-18 09:08:09

No, I'm not 'looking to be offended', it's more that the project is so close to being very successful but someones lack of thought has just slightly marred it by allowing casual sexism to creep in. Surely a school should strive for excellence? I think at some point I might mention that I think 'Divas' should be replaced with a word that's more positive.

OP’s posts: |
BlondeB83 Sat 20-Jan-18 09:08:28

Keep quiet.

dotdotdotmustdash Sat 20-Jan-18 09:09:20

A diva is an outstanding female opera singer. It is certainly used with respect in that context.

Certainly it is, but in this case there's no suggestion that these women were opera singers, therefore it has to be used in the other definition.

OP’s posts: |
MaisyPops Sat 20-Jan-18 09:20:32

So you think an otherwise great project celebrating women in STEM is only partially successgul because the display has a title you don't like?

I'm glad you're such an expert on assessing education.

Sorry but you remind me of a former TA i
I had who used to go offering their own mini lesson obs commentary if they personally didn't like something or it wasn't to their style. It drove me mad. (Should add I've had fab TAs who I've worked with, they've given fabulous guidance and feedback on SEND etc and also let me know if i've missed things so i'm all up for chatting and feedback etc but not complaining about non issues and then tellinh me my work isn't as effective because it's not to their taste)

MsJuniper Sat 20-Jan-18 09:54:43

If I were a parent in that class and saw the display I'd definitely raise an eyebrow and be disappointed that such a positive project was undermined by the title.

Unfortunately I don't think there's any way you can address it successfully.

TheFallenMadonna Sat 20-Jan-18 10:04:35

Pretty sure a female Head of computing in a school with a positive record for encouraging girls in STEM is not using the word "diva" in a derogatory sense in a display celebrating the achievement of women. I think the primary definition, albeit with a change in profession, is the one intended.

dotdotdotmustdash Sat 20-Jan-18 11:18:48

*I'm glad you're such an expert on assessing education.

Sorry but you remind me of a former TA i
I had who used to go offering their own mini lesson obs commentary if they personally didn't like something or it wasn't to their style. It drove me mad. (Should add I've had fab TAs who I've worked with, they've given fabulous guidance and feedback on SEND etc and also let me know if i've missed things so i'm all up for chatting and feedback etc but not complaining about non issues and then telling me my work isn't as effective because it's not to their taste)*

In my previous career I was a Lecturer in FE, albeit in healthcare.

I'm not sure that in this one instance I deserve to be labelled as similar to your TA who gave a 'mini lesson obs commentary', whatever that may mean?. I've been a TA for 6 years and have sat often and listened to teachers who have given sub-standard lessons (the primary teacher who doesn't know the basics of the use of apostrophes, the English teacher who spelled 'opulent' as 'oppulent' and many others). I have very rarely made any comment as I do recognise the job is tough enough and that nobody is perfect, myself included.

For me though, as a mother of a daughter and feminist, I find this issue a clear sign that there is still a gender bias.

Would you like to be described as a Diva at work? I certainly wouldn't.

OP’s posts: |
headinhands Sat 20-Jan-18 11:32:38

I'd find it irritating. If it was men would they call them dotcomlads?

dotdotdotmustdash Sat 20-Jan-18 11:43:37

I'd find it irritating. If it was men would they call them dotcomlads?

I think that would be more acceptable than 'Divas*!

OP’s posts: |
ArcadianBlues Sat 20-Jan-18 11:44:39

I agree it is a stupid title and not helpful. I would mention it to the Head of Computing in a spirit of positive criticism. Excellent project but just a little spoilt by the title because of the loaded term. Hopefully the Head will agree and pass the message to the teacher concerned so that they choose a different title next year.

WallisFrizz Sat 20-Jan-18 12:01:59

If it was re men it probably would be DotComDudes.

I don’t necessarily think Diva is a negative term. Personally, I think it is more positive as Divas tend to be at the forefront of their field/successful and yes demanding maybe. Nothing wrong with demanding the best.

dotdotdotmustdash Sat 20-Jan-18 12:05:15

I think there must a regional or age-based difference on our personal definition of Diva!

OP’s posts: |
Fromage Sat 20-Jan-18 12:24:58

I think this is a case of everyday sexism - I'm apalled, tbh.

Why did they have to fancy up, and patronise, in this way? What was wrong with 'Women in Computing?' Personally, should I be the subject of someone's poster for their school project, I would be hugely insulted to be described as a diva in my profession. Has anyone thought that these are actual women, real human beings, they are describing? Would all those women be OK with the wording?

It might be thought of as a snappy title if you're a low rent tabloid headline writer, but it's pretty disrespectful to the women featured, and the rest of us, tbh. It's an awful way to present successful professional women to children. It's wrong to diminish a person's achievements by describing them with a word more suited to RuPaul or Beyonce. It doesn't at all suggest these women should be taken seriously.

I have no idea how you would bring it up, but I agree with your points. I would also say that as a parent, I wouldn't be impressed either. I wonder how long before an anonymous parent sets up a twitter account and sends it to @everydaysexism. Of course you would never do such a thing. Obviously. It would be terrible bad luck if a parent at the school read this thread and thought 'yes I thought that display was terrible, i think i'll do what that cheesey woman suggests.'

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