Teaching future feminists

I have had the privilege in the last week listen to intelligent and passionate speakers debating a wide range of issues at the HowTheLightGetsIn festival in Hay-on-Wye. On Monday these included two debates about feminism: one focused on the diverse approaches taken by different feminist activists, and the other specifically about the gender biases in science, historically and today.

I also attended other debates about equality, “meritocracy” and free speech, among others. These were all fascinating conversations that I felt lucky to be a part of. I was able to ask questions at the end of these debates, and on several occasions to speak with the debaters face to face immediately following the events.

I also had the further privilege in the previous week of interviewing candidates for Deputy Head of Science roles in the department where I begin my first Head of Science post in September.

It occurred to me today that the situation in which I find myself puts me in a perfect position to pursue the goals I see as vitally important in science education when I begin my new job in September. To explain why requires a little more context regarding the department I will be leading.

The previous head of department has gained a promotion to SLT which includes overall responsibility for the wellbeing and academic progress of the most vulnerable students. Another member of the science team has also gained a new post, also related to the most vulnerable learners in the school. Both of these staff members are women.

I will therefore be leading a talented team of teachers (I know this to be true having met most of them on my two visits to the school to date) that includes two intelligent and motivated teachers with a specific interest in “closing the gap” in educational achievement between those with and without the benefits of strong family support networks, financial security and a stable home life. When I joined the dots in my mind today I felt a rush of excitement at the thought of putting into action strategies that will promote the twin goals of feminism and equality of opportunity.

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During a conversation with the candidates we were interviewing last week I was asked the question, “What is your vision for the science department?” The ideals outlined here, along with my passion for utilising our fast developing understanding of the science of learning, are coming together in a coherent answer to this question. This answer will form the basis of a future blog post.

Watch this space for further elucidation of my vision, and for more detailed discussions of some of the debates I enjoyed over the bank holiday weekend!

As always, feedback is welcome and I hope to continue the ongoing conversations around closing the gaps in science education on Twitter.

@PrestonScience

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