Radiation Level: 332 Electoral Votes
Listening To: Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours by Stevie Wonder
Thursday I went to teach my science classes. I walked in at 3pm on the button, having barely made it past the construction on Overland, and greeted my 12 boys and one girl, Darci.
All the boys sat in the first few rows, smiling, throwing things, wrestling. Darci always sits alone, in the back. All the other girls are taking a class on fashion design, and I can’t say I blame them. I would have done the same at their age. But not Darci.
Darci is a thoughtful, often serious girl but grins widely when she answers questions correctly. Today, though, alone in the back of the room, she was crying.
When I asked her what was wrong, she said, “No matter what, they always make fun of me,” pointing to the group of wily boys.
The boys got quiet, guilty looks on their faces. I don’t tolerate bullying, and when it’s a group of boys ganging up on a girl, it really makes me angry. But I also don’t want to coddle my female students. It IS hard for women and they DO need to be tougher, especially if they want to succeed in a male-dominated environment such as science.
I said, “Darci, come here,” and I took her just outside the classroom. I brushed one of her blonde curls behind her ear as tears ran down her face. I said, “Boys like to tease each other. It’s just what they do.” She looked up at me, knowing this was true, wishing it wasn’t.
I crouched down to her eye level and said, “You deserve to be in this class, just as much as they do. You are just as smart, just as capable as they are, so don’t ever let them make you feel that you’re not.” The second-grader nodded, wiping her tears away. “If they ever say anything mean to you, you just tell them “forget you!”
I felt her pain. All the challenges she’ll face as a girl, because she’s a girl, flashed before my eyes. I didn’t have the heart to tell her how hard it’s really going to be. But something in me told me Darci was going to do okay.
We walked back into the classroom and I looked at my students and said, “When we’re in this room, we are scientists. Scientists MUST work together as a team. Do you think we could have ever made it to the moon or put a rover on Mars without working together?”
The boys understood this. Will it keep them from taunting Darci? Probably not. But the idea of being part of something bigger than themselves — for science — did appeal to them. I don’t want my boys to simply tolerate girls. Girls are necessary, important, particularly in science.
I said, “On the count of three, we’ll all yell teamwork: one, two, three!
And we all yelled teamwork. Darci smiled. Balance created/restored. Learning is good.