Monday, June 15, 2015

SHEG sees the world... with blinders on.

It's been a while since I've done a Weinberg watch and SHEG has launched new world history resources.  And bonus, I'm teaching ancient world history next year so what better time to check in on SHEG and see what they are up to.  Unfortunately, the results are new sources, same story. 

I looked at the SHEG lesson plans for Hummurabi's Code.  Now most standard readings of the Code focus on a few key points.  1) It's the first written law code.  2) The Code had different punishments based on social status  3) The Code enshrined patriarchy as the law of the land.  When I say patriarchy I'm referring specifically to two features: the rule of fathers and attempts to guarantee inheritance through the male line.  Pretty much every textbook I've worked with has focused on these three features of the Code.  So how did SHEG do?  Well, they got one and two but completely missed on 3.  How badly did they miss on three?  Way badly.

First off, they include one quote about gender relations.  The first is about husbands and fathers being able to sell wives and children into slavery.  Clearly women and children are the property of fathers and husbands.  The second quote is this one:

If a man wishes to separate from his wife who has borne him no children, he shall give her the amount of her purchase money and the dowry which she brought from her father's house, and let her go.

The husband here has all the agency.  A man can separate from his wife (if she has failed to produce children and therefore is not good wife material) if he gives her back her purchase money and dowry and let's her go.  If we read the code more fully it becomes clear that the place she is going is to her father's house.  She is being return and the father gets his money back for his defective merchandise - the barren wife.  How did the folks at SHEG read this:  incredibly they teacher's guide tell's teachers that this quote indicates:  "that women had some rights."  This in the middle of a section of some forty rules (out of 282) about women, marriage, property, and inheritance. 

I don't know who is calling the shots at SHEG in terms of creating these lesson plans, but dear god, make them stop and get somebody who knows what they are doing in there?  This is actually worse than the textbooks that ignore the gender angle altogether. 


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Personal Learning Networks that are In Person

I had a three hour faculty meeting today that was empowering and energizing.  That's happened to me before exactly never times.  Among the topics discussed was the fact that we were going to be doing in-house personal learning networks using the instructional rounds model.  Given this article by Audrey Watters, I'm growing even more suspicious of on-line sites that promise to connect teachers to share curriculum.  (I'll still use twitter of course, I'm thinking of sites that encourage you to upload your lesson plans.) 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Guest post AP US History

I've been bogged down in finals and end of year stuff.  But I was charmed by this Facebook post from Maria Montoya who attended the AP US History reading and she gave me permission to repost here:

What I learned after 8 days of grading 893 (yes, I counted) AP US History questions: 1) I can sit quietly for 8 hours a day and work steadily without listening to music, checking Facebook, or being distracted; 2) Even among the most elite group of students (AP test-takes), there still exists immense achievement gaps in our country; 3) The high school history teachers I worked with this past week are among the most impressive group of people I have had the pleasure of hanging out with in a long time (especially the group from Jefferson County) as they are dedicated to teaching U.S history in the face of some rather daunting and unfair criticism.
If you can, then take a moment to thank your favorite high school history teacher or any teacher in general for the hard work they do. Thanks, Mona Lundy !

 Feel free to put your thanks in the comments.