Saturday, January 18, 2020

Recommended - Alison Stewart's Interview of Jennifer Hirsch and Shamus Khan

Alison Stewart's Interview of Jennifer Hirsch and Shamus Khan is a conversation worth your time.

A few highlights:

Around the 13 minute mark of the interview, there's an insightful exchange about physical spaces. Think dorm rooms. As Hirsch points out, there are usually four furniture items in a dorm room: bed, desk, chair, bureau. "The only comfortable place to sit is a bed," she says, adding, "beds have meanings." Students need to learn not to make assumptions in a situation when someone sits on their bed. Maybe a person just wants to sit on the bed, and nothing else. In addition, she suggests that colleges create more spaces for students to hang out and socialize in the late hours. Khan then talks about power and control of spaces. For example, older students tend to have more control over spaces. He says: "Younger students are often propelled into spaces controlled by older students and that really can put them at risk."

Near the 18 minute mark, Stewart asks for a definition of "sexual citizens," and Khan answers: "Sexual citizenship is the idea that people have the right to say yes and the right to say no to sex, and that they need to recognize the equivalent rights in other people." A few minutes later, Khan emphasizes the importance of recognizing the humanity of other people (in contrast to, for example, seeing sex as a game or seeing a sexual experience as an accomplishment or triumph).

At 23 minutes, there's a great contribution to the conversation from a caller who works as a consent educator. She talks about the need to reframe sexual experiences to prioritize the safety and pleasure of one's partner. Hirsch responds by addressing the need to improve the way sex education is taught (she says sex ed should be more comprehensive, more inclusive, start earlier, and include teaching people to say no to sex they don't want to have).

On the subject of education, Khan brings up driver's ed as an analogy around the 27 minute mark. It takes a lot of work to learn how to safely drive! Sex ed, he says, is mainly about biology..."It's sort of like imagining that you can teach people to drive by talking to them about spark plugs, it's not particularly helpful!" He also talks about the importance of offering comprehensive sex education, one that empowers young people to talk about sex and to express themselves. And we need safer sexual environments. Back to the driving analogy--like he says, speed bumps help people drive safely!

There's much more in the interview, this is just a glimpse into it, I encourage listening to all of it!

Friday, January 17, 2020

First Day Jitters

20  years teaching and I still get nervous on the first day. That means I still care and I'm still shy. It takes a while to get my teaching voice in shape and to relax and show my personality. I pass out the syllabus on the first day and all that regular jazz and I normally have a set plan with notes and bullet points but on the first day of my Social Stratification class next week I'm going to try to be loose and get right into a conversation with students. Before introducing the subject matter I think I'll ask them to give their thoughts and rough definitions of social class and ask them what they think and know about inequality. And ask them what they see in media (all media, including social media) that informs their views about social class and inequality. I think that will start the course on a good note and establish an environment where we talk and listen to each other. Sure I'll cover the assignments and expectations for the course and other professor stuff a professor does but I think the really important thing is to get them talking and thinking on day 1. I think sometimes we look for fun "icebreakers" but if you think about it, when students are talking and listening to each other the ice is being broken.