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.

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How does the mind affect health?

It is clear that we need our lives to have a purpose, to feel that our actions form part of something bigger than ourselves.

When Julia, a passionate and committed teacher, was forced to take extended leave from work, she had to find activities to fill the gap and to provide meaning to her day to day existence. Going from such an intrinsically fulfilling and gregarious job to a quieter, slower, less social existence would have come as a severe shock. It would have been easy for Julia to slip into a cycle of anxiety and stress leading to isolation and depression.

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