Any good community organizer knows an effective protest requires two things: a bully to excoriate and a catchy slogan that resonates in the public mind.
Even though most protestors are “uncomplicated” people, don’t be deceived; staging an effective rally is not a simple task.
First, a bully must be identified. For progressives, a bully is anybody who disagrees with you politically, so there is no shortage of candidates. However, as Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” explains, it’s best to settle on one target to isolate and attack.
Next, protestors need to come up with a catchy slogan to shout at the designated bully. Most people don’t have the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s “gift” of reducing complex ideas into simplistic rhymes. This skill must be taught.
Which brings us to this week’s installment of the Indoctrination Fridays series: Gender doesn’t limit you – A research-based anti-bullying program for the early grades.
This charming six-part lesson plan is designed to stamp out (mostly) gender-based bullying from Pre-K all the way through 6th grade.
Most readers will agree that bullying is a problem and that teachers should talk to students about it in a thoughtful, reasonable manner.
But thought and reason are totally absent from the “Gender doesn’t limit you” lesson plans, which only provide children with a designated slogan to shout at suspected bullies.
Here’s an example from Lesson 4 – Biased Judgments:
To start the lesson, teachers are instructed to tell students that, “Sometimes one group of kids thinks that they are better at something than another group because of their gender.”
The teacher then tells students that whenever someone makes a highly offensive remark such as “boys are better at soccer than girls,” they should tell the offender, “Give it a rest. No group is best.”
Since repetition is crucial to the learning process, the plan provides teachers with four scenarios to read to students. After each one the class is instructed to shout, “Give it a rest. No group is best.”
Here’s one of the scenarios from Lesson 4:
(Teacher): “Paul and Vanessa are baking cookies together. Vanessa says that girls are better at baking than boys. What do we tell Vanessa? One, two, three GO!”
(Class): "Give it a rest, no group is best."
That’s the extent of the lesson. Identify a bully (doesn’t that Vanessa sound like a monster?), give the kids a slogan to shout, and practice with a few scenarios.
It’s like that for each lesson, although the quality of the slogans varies. Here’s a Cliff’s Notes version of the lesson plans:
For the “Peer Exclusion” lesson, kids are instructed that “not letting someone play with you just because of their gender is called bullying….” Applicable slogan: “You can’t say, ‘Boys/Girls can’t play.’”
For the “Role Exclusion” lesson, students are told that, “Boys and girls can have any job they want to, or do any activities that they want.” If some insensitive lout attempts to define gender roles in the children’s presence, they are to say, “Not true! Gender doesn’t limit you.”
And so it goes for six lessons. Some of the remaining slogans include “That's weird! Being boys and girls doesn't matter here" and “I disagree! Sexism is silly to me.”
As you can see, the quality of the sloganeering fades with each lesson.
You can also see the “lessons” aren’t designed to develop critical thought or meaningful classroom discussions. In fact, the researchers who designed these lessons brag that “teaching students catchphrases to interrupt gender bullying” is far more effective than “using literature to challenge gender stereotypes.”What this curriculum seems best designed for is to teach kids there’s a bully around every corner and the best way to handle him (and you just know it’s a “him”) is to shout clever slogans. Sure, the kids whose school careers are frittered away with such tripe might not be prepared to enter the competitive world of work or college. But rest assured, these kids will know what to do when a bully like Scott Walker or Chris Christie tries to take away their seat on the government’s gravy train. That’s right, these lesson plans will produce some wonderful union activists someday.
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