Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell and Kid Responses to Sexism

Today, I read the boys a story about Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female in the U.S. with a medical degree. She was considered for the Geneva Medical School of Western New York because of a letter from a respected doctor, and accepted as a joke. She was ridiculed during her education, but she graduated as a top student. She also studied at the best medical schools in London, Paris, and Berlin, but not even patients wanted to take her seriously. She eventually started a clinic to serve poor neighborhoods New York’s east side. She also started America’s first women and children clinic, trained nurses in the Civil War, and started the first medical school for women.

I will now share snippets of the discussion we had following our reading.

Elijah passionately responded to the ridicule Blackwell received with, “Why would they do that? That’s not what God made men to do!”

Me: Should certain jobs be for men only?
The unanimous answer was an enthusiastic no, and how silly it is that people would think women aren’t smart or can’t handle gross stuff.

I then asked them to argue the opposite point – to come up with the best reasons or examples they could think of for why women should not do some jobs – because it’s important to be able to “see the other side”. The flood of very frank responses I got ranged from comical to disturbing-if-you-think-about-it-too-hard.

9: Well, if it’s like a sperm donation job…
10: I was going to say if it was a scrotum-flicking contest…
7 (first real answer): Well, because usually kids prefer to be with their moms, so they can stay with their kids if dad goes to work.
9: Or, like, if a woman was pregnant, and suddenly the baby came out over something dangerous…
10: Well, because women DO tend to investigate things, so…
7 (second real answer):  Because some jobs are dangerous and people respect women more, so they’d rather men get hurt.
10: Women are better at remembering things, so maybe if it was like a war job, and a friend got hurt, it would be better if it was a man, because he could forget it easier, but a woman would remember better and be really upset. I have a trash can and a recycle bin in my head.

Then we talked out all the thoughts and the boys still settled on it making more sense for women to do what they want to do.

Me: Name some occupations that have few or no women in them today. Try to explain why.
They responded with jobs like construction work, submarine driving, grill cooks, court, mechanics, car engineers, and military.
I asked them why they think that is.

9: Because they don’t want to do those jobs.
10: Yeah, they just don’t prefer it.
7: Because of the [above mentioned] danger reason.

Me: Could there be any similar reasons that Elizabeth Blackwell experienced?
10: No, I don’t think people think like that any more.
Me: Actually, some people still do, or at least have certain assumptions. For example, I’ve had people assume that I don’t know about car things or tools, but they usually would be happy to teach me.
7: But you know a lot about tools!
Me: Yes, but the point is there may be a pattern to what men and women prefer to do, but it doesn’t apply to all people. [Then we discussed jobs they see mostly women in]. Women can be generally really good at jobs that use their relationship skills, like teaching and nursing, but some women really like mechanical things, for example, too. Some jobs are more open to women now, but not everyone is happy about it.
Me: What do you think should be considered when hiring somebody for a job?
9: If they’re good at the job.
10: How skilled they are.

That’s right, little dudes. I love their precious minds.

Categories: Home School | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Un-Slumber Party

Last night the boys had a friend over to spend the night. It was a well-thought-out event. Ian told me how he and “L” had made plans to play certain games and read certain books and that they were going to stay up all night. Since it was a Saturday night, we agreed that they could do all these things, provided that electronics went off at 11, that they let tired people sleep, and that they’d stick to light “midnight snacks”.

The boys did, indeed, spend a significant amount of time reading, and a fair amount of time on electronics. But in the evening, there was an epic 4-hour game of Monopoly that lasted until 11 pm. Brian and I went to bed shortly after that. My eyes gleefully shut and I drifted off into happy slumber. What followed was a series of groggy flashes into alternate realities.

1:30 a.m. Eyes creaked open to a small figure hovering over me asking, “Can we have a slice of pizza?” (That might upset your tummy. Try something lighter like toast or fruit.)

1:45 a.m. Eyes groaned open to the same small figure asking if a tortilla was okay, because the bread was all gone. (mumble)

2:30 a.m. Eyes sighed open to the glare of the door opening. A medium-sized figure entered and shook the bed a little. *must be on HIS side*

2:45 a.m. Eyes griped open to the small figure wrenching his way  into my side of the bed.

2:55 a.m. Eyes fussed open to the clamor of the middle-sized figure leaving the room.

3:00 a.m. Eyes inched open to the ruckus of middle-sized figure hauling bedding into the room.

3:15 a.m. Eyes refuse to open to oldest voice asking dad what he can do, because L is sleeping, and he’s bored.

6:45 a.m. Eyes flutter open to the discomfort of my crammed position. I realize that I am smashed against Brian, and my 77 lb dog has his head on MY pillow, and the small-figured child is scrunched down low, using the punk dog’s rump as a pillow. I can’t imagine how this transpired, but clearly my brain gave up on noticing things. I made a lame sketch to illustrate.

I went ahead and got up, at that point, because I had to be at a meeting before long. I sneaked upstairs and saw Ian and L asleep on the Foof chair and couch bed, respectively. Ian says they made it until three, when they tried to sleep in shifts, but it got boring, so they just slept. Not a bad attempt, fellas, but I think I’m too old for you to stay up all night again for a few years.

Categories: Daily Life | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Proverbs and Idioms

Today we had fun learning some proverbs and idioms, which seem to be nearly the same, except that proverbs are longer. I wrote the beginning of some common sayings and let them think about how to finish them. They came pretty close with a bunch of them. I made sure they didn’t discuss their answers or look at each other’s papers. Of course, at the end, we discussed the real endings and what they mean, and how they tend to make sense only inside our own culture.

Here are Ian’s idioms responses:

Actions speak louder than: a trumpet call.
Cross that bridge when you: have the faith in God.
Don’t count your chickens before: you tell your master.
Don’t put all your eggs in: the oven.
Let sleeping dogs: rest.
Don’t let the cat out of: the house.
Take it with a grain of: wheat.


Here are Ian’s proverbs responses:

Give him an inch, he’ll take a: foot.
Absence makes the heart: cold.
Beggars can’t be: mean.
If at first you don’t succeed: try, try again.
Necessity is the mother of: riches/greed.
People who live in glass houses shouldn’t: pay attention.
When the cat’s away, the mice will: come and get crazy!


Here are Isaac’s idioms responses:

Actions speak louder than: trumpets.
Cross that bridge when you: need to.
Don’t count your chickens before: they lay their eggs.
Don’t put all your eggs in: the pan.
Let sleeping dogs: sleep.
Don’t let the cat out of: the cage.
Take it with a grain of: sand.


Here are Isaac’s proverbs responses:

Give him an inch, he’ll take a: ruler.
Absence makes the heart: not good at stuff.
Beggars can’t be: not beggars.
If at first you don’t succeed: try again.
Necessity is the mother of: risk.
People who live in glass houses shouldn’t: throw a brick.
When the cat’s away, the mice will: party.


Here are Elijah’s Idioms responses (we ran out of time, so I had to help write some of his answers):

Actions speak louder than: words.
Cross that bridge when you: leave.
Don’t count your chickens before: you sit.
Don’t put all your eggs in: your food.
Let sleeping dogs: sleep.
Don’t let the cat out of: the crate.
Take it with a grain of: food.


Here are Elijah’s Proverbs responses:

Give him an inch, he’ll take a: pinch.
Absence makes the heart: weak.
Beggars can’t be: rich.
If at first you don’t succeed: try more.
Necessity is the mother of: a child.
People who live in glass houses shouldn’t: run.
When the cat’s away, the mice will: pay. Eventually.


These were a lot of fun. It was neat so see their thought processes and how close they came to some of the concepts.

Categories: Home School | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment