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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?

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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?

SingSongMummy Wed 01-May-13 23:19:25

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

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

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'...

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.

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

Jeanne d'Arc (Joan of Arc)

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

Standard MN messages, surely? sad

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!

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

Lol I spotted that too. Militant Church school?

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?


Safe from Catholics? grin

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

veryconfusedatthemoment Sat 27-Apr-13 17:28:00

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!)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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
Harriet Tubman
Ellie Simmonds (dont know how any school cannot mention this young lady)
Harriet Stowe
Anne Frank
Jean Driscoll
Ann Bancroft
Marla Runyan

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.

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