Drama Kids Rule! A Standing Ovation For High School Drama Programs

globe

Totus mundus agit histrionem.”

When translated, the above Latin quote means “All the World’s a Stage” which is the motto of the Globe Theatre owned chiefly by William Shakespeare and the King’s Men. It is also a famous line from a most famous speech by Jacques from As You Like It.

This past month, I enjoyed another fantastic performance by my high school’s drama department for their spring musical play and am again convinced that by allowing for students to pursue interests in the arts is as worthwhile an endeavor as any in our public schools.

Actually, I not only enjoyed it, I got to be part of it.

Hairspray might be one of the hardest musicals to produce. The singing. The sets to be built. The choreography. The timing. The music. The orchestra pit.

There is a bit role for a principal to send Tracy Turnblad to detention for an infraction. For each of the three performances, that role was played by various faculty members. I got to perform it on opening night because that was the only night I had available.

hairspray

That whole outfit is mine. The wig, the glasses, the blazer – all mine.

When I as a teacher am asked to be a part of something that students deem important to them, then it is not another “duty;” it is an honor. When I look back on my career as a teacher, moments like these are the ones that will provide the best of memories.

And I got to be backstage watching these incredible young adults do something they are passionate about. They were a team. They pulled for each other.

The best part was that my own daughter was helping backstage as well.

What if people in Raleigh could have seen that.

If you have read many of my posts and op-eds, it is not uncommon for me to make parallels between what is performed on screen or stage to real life as art tends to imitate life in wickedly realistic ways. Add to that the fact that many of us (myself included) have a lot of drama in our lives.

But more importantly, there is so much evidence and research that the fine arts enhance any student’s ability to improve in all academic areas. Theater, music, visual arts, and dance help students expand themselves and develop self-esteem, confidence, creativity, and self-expression.

And there are some fantastic drama productions where I teach. There are fantastic productions in many high schools across this state because drama is a necessary investment for any high school. For that matter, it is a necessity for elementary and middle schools.

We’re not only just talking about multi-sensory intelligence, creating presence, understanding audience, and collaboratively producing. We’re talking about expression and allowing students to follow their curiosity.

How can you not see the importance of drama when a musical like Hamilton takes the world by storm and at the same time makes political and social statements? How can you not see the importance of drama when you could literally “binge watch” hundreds of shows that have critical acclaim and never get through all of them in a lifetime? How can you not appreciate the role that drama has in our schools when you realize that the movie you just saw not only moved you emotionally but etched itself into your psyche?

How can you not appreciate the very talents that God has given people if there are not ways for those talents to be found, explored, developed, and nurtured early in life?

And considering what all has happened in the last two years here in our country and in our world, many of us will look to the stage of a theater or the screen to gain perspective on what has happened on the stage of life.

The Greeks looked to their playwrights for guidance and angles.  The Elizabethans loved their theater.

So do we.

Support high school drama efforts. They have been supporting you for years.

drama

Why Shakespeare Matters To People Who Don’t Think Shakespeare Matters

The following is courtesy of the venerable Bill Bryson in his book Shakespeare: The World as Stage. I share it in the beginning of the school year with my students in my Shakespeare 101 elective class. Some think it rather trivial, but as the class progresses, many begin to see that the scope of Shakespeare’s work is rather incredible.

shakespeare

  • Left 1 million words of text
  • Never signed his name the same way twice
  • 38 (some say 39) plays Shakespeare
  • 154 sonnets
  • 138,198 commas
  • 26794 colons
  • 15,785 question marks
  • 884, 647 words
  • 31,959 speeches
  • 118, 406 lines
  • 7000 works on Shakespeare alone in Library of Congress – it would take 20 continuous years of reading to finish
  • 1100 films
  • His average play was 2,700 lines – 2.5 hours
  • Comedy of Errors is shortest at 1800 lines
  • Hamlet is longest at 4000 plus lines
  • 70% of his plays are blank verse
  • 5% of plays arerhymed meter
  • 25% are prose
  • There are anatopisms (look it up) and anachronisms and horrible geography
  • 29,066 different words used in his works – 20,000 if you remove different forms (average person knows 50k words with all of the new nouns)
  • Coined 2,035 words (suffixes, prefixes) – over 1700 exclusive words

And then I share with them the theories that the man known as William Shakespeare may not have actually been the person who wrote the plays. Considering that only 14 words exist in his own hand and a will (no pun intended) that bequeaths to his wife the second best bed of the household, there is not much concrete evidence to ensure that the Bard is who we think is a man from Stratford-Upon-the river Avon is the writer of the world’s most well-known plays.

People like Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud, and modern “Oxfordians” have offered theories that Shakespeare’s work is actually the product of one Edward deVere, the Earl of Oxford. It is a story shown in the rather recent movie Anonymous, which is entertaining and does provide some insight into Elizabethan culture. I show that movie to the Shakespeare class for perspective.

Others theorize that maybe Christopher Marlowe wrote Shakespeare’s plays after his “murder” or that Francis Bacon wrote them in between his philosophical excursions.

But a fairly recent article from The Guardian may just have set this whole thing to rest and let The Bard be The Bard.

It is entitled “How ‘Sherlock of the library’ cracked the case of Shakespeare’s identity.”  Here is the link – https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2017/jan/08/sherlock-holmes-of-the-library-cracks-shakespeare-identity.

For those of you who are Shakespeare enthusiasts, it is worth the read because it is worth the read. If you’ve read some James Shapiro or Stephen Greenblatt or Harold Bloom or even some Bill Bryson in addition to actual Shakespeare, then you can understand that there is a fascination with knowing a connection with the man and the creations for the stage.

But for those of you who do not like Shakespeare, then this article is just as important if not more. Because it shows us something that we all need to know.

Everyone has possibilities.

How can a country boy with an eight-grade education literally come to London and become the greatest writer the English speaking world would come to know? There are those who refused to believe that someone who could have not been of high breeding or have attended the best university (or even graduated high school) could go on and do great things in spite of those challenges.

Apparently Shakespeare did.

We need to know that there can be leaders, pioneers, inventors, voices, revolutionaries, and artists whose backgrounds defy the very logic of society and help us define how we see ourselves.

Literature is filled with them.

And the lists of people who write literature is filled with them as well.

Plus, I like country kids who revere books and words and dream fairly big.

Mark Jewell – Congratulations to the Leader We Need

NCAE

At the NCAE state convention this past weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting some people for the first time face to face although I have “known” them for quite a while.

Public school advocacy has helped me link with some of the best people, individuals whose passion for students is only matched by a selfless sense of service.

I got to finally meet Mark Jewell face to face at last week’s convention. There weren’t pleasantries or small talk. No need for that because Mark and I had known each other for a while. Once you see Mark, you do not have to review how you know each other. When you see Mark, it is the continuation of a friendship instantly forged beforehand.

Every email I have ever sent him was replied to. Every question I had about my rights and privileges of being in NCAE he answered. Every op-ed I wrote, he read. Any advice I needed as an advocate, he sagely gave. Any encouragement I needed, he gave without being asked.

Mark Jewell was vice-president for two terms serving with Rodney Ellis. In 2016, he was elected president of NCAE. His six years of service have come at the most critical time in our state’s battle for public education. Mark has been there the whole time, leading and doing what great leaders do: removing obstacles.

Endless trips around the state to visit local regions and chapters, serving on panels in discussions, engaging policy makers about issues is all for the benefit of public schools. He fights battles so that we as teachers can do our jobs better.

Today, it was announced that Mark will serve another term as president of NCAE.

2018 is another crucial election year.

I am very grateful that Mark Jewell will be there for us.

 

Welcome to West, Coach West

I really look forward to next season that much more.

Today it was reported that Howard West will become the next boys basketball coach for the Titans. From Jay Spivey of the Winston-Salem Journal:

Howard West is back in the Central Piedmont Conference. West was named the new boys basketball coach at West Forsyth, Athletics Director Mike Pennington confirmed Thursday afternoon.

“I coached basketball 26 years, and Howard West was the best coach that I ever coached against,” Pennington said. “And I think he’s one of the top coaches in the history of our state in high school basketball.

“I’m thrilled that he will be coaching our kids next year.”

 

West, 71, owner of the third-most coaching wins in North Carolina high school basketball history with a record of 801-368, was the head coach at Forsyth Country Day for the past five seasons (http://www.journalnow.com/sports/prepzone/howard-west-is-named-new-boys-basketball-coach-at-west/article_d85c75b4-ca34-544c-b5a8-fae0e5ac830e.html).

But it is a quote by Coach West about West Forsyth that spoke loudest. He said,

“It’s a great school. Academically, they’re a great school. That community supports them out there, so it’s definitely a job many people should’ve gone after if they didn’t.”

Welcome to West, Coach West.

wflogo

 

 

 

An Open Letter From a Veteran North Carolina Teacher to Young Teachers – You Are Vital

letter writing

Dear Fellow Educator,

I first want to tell you that I admire what you have chosen to do as a career. Teaching in today’s public schools is not easy. I know as I am in my 20th year of teaching. I still love my job. I still love being with the students. Outside of my family, this profession has fulfilled me like no other. I firmly believe my students would concur if asked.

And it has kept me young at heart and sharp in mind.

One of the main reasons I have adored public school teaching is I had great veteran teachers who mentored me and engaged with me, and who cared about how I progressed as an individual and professional.

But I worry about the future of our profession in North Carolina sometimes. I am afraid that we will not have as many veteran teachers in the future as we do now. That’s why I want to try and convince you to stay in the profession.

You are needed. You are vital. You can be agents of change and staunch advocates for schools and students. You can improve the profession and secure the very items that will strengthen our profession. You are beginning your career at one of the most crucial times where educational reform is at a fever pitch and schools are under constant scrutiny.

Teaching is that one “occupation” that everybody has some sort of stake in. If you are not a student, former student, parent of a student, employer of former students, then you are at least paying taxes to help support public schools. People who invest in any way, shape, or form are stakeholders and many will go out of their way to tell you what is right or wrong about our schools.

Teaching might be the most openly exposed, yet most misunderstood profession. With changes in curriculum, standards, evaluations, graduation requirements, salaries, policies, resources, laws, and personnel, it is arduous for even us veteran teachers to keep pace. Public education takes the largest part of our state budget; it probably takes up the most debate time and committee meetings in the General Assembly.

Class sizes are larger. High-stakes testing quantifies everything. Data gets crunched by outside entities. There are meetings with parents and administrators. There is the planning and grading and the revising of differentiated lesson plans.

And then there are our students, the very reasons why we do what we do. Their needs are upmost in our priorities.

Those needs are many: academic, mental, psychological, emotional, and physical. Those needs force us to “wear many hats.” Those needs force us to always learn how to best serve our students in conditions that could never be measured by standardized assessments.

When I became a teacher, my venerable uncle gave me some of his usual sage advice. A retired English teacher, he still is revered by former students. It was he who became the model for what I still strive to do in classroom. He told me when I began teaching to give it three years.

The first year would be a whirlwind simply trying to learn how to plan, execute, and instruct students. The second year would be a paper maelstrom because I was still trying to learn how to be a part of a school community and understand the inner workings of the school. The third year my immune system would get to the point where I wouldn’t catch every malady that students had and I would have familiarity with the job as a whole. My third year would be where I could see the profession holistically.

But the one thing he always stressed: enjoy the students. When the door closes for class, you can help some amazing things happen.

Students are what have kept me in this profession. With all of the flux that occurs in education, the criticism that schools receive, and the constant need for resources and support, students have been the constant and consistent foundation in my career.

Yes, the faces change from year to year, but they never disappear. Many will always want to stay in contact. All will have made an impression on you and you will impact them. If students always remain the center of what you do as an educator, those other stressors can be dealt with in proactive ways.

Having younger teachers energizes a school building. You bring in new ideas, contagious energy, and constant reminders of why we do what we do. You come in with new uses for technology and new pedagogical approaches. And it is up to us veterans to be useful mentors, good sounding boards, and constructive critics.

It is also a veteran teacher’s job to show you how to advocate for students and schools. It is that advocacy that helps keep students the focus of what we do and when we keep the focus on students we tend to stay in the profession longer, and when teachers stay in the profession longer it ensures that when new teachers come into the profession there will always be veterans there to help them and learn from them.

When I started teaching in North Carolina we had due-process rights, a salary schedule, and graduate degree pay increases. We had state-funded professional development and fewer standardized tests. We had a General Assembly that did a better job at fully-funding public schools. We had more time for each student to help “personalize” instruction.

Unfortunately, many of those conditions no longer exist. But they can again if you fight for them.

Advocating for students and schools means that you advocate for the teaching profession because schools do not work well without empowered teachers. Students need strong teachers who are supported for what they do; therefore, the more you advocate for the teaching profession, the more you are advocating for students and schools. It could mean that you make sure to vote in elections. It could mean that you join a professional organization like NCAE. It could mean that you write op-eds, visit legislators, or become involved with teacher groups. It could mean doing all of these.

Many in Raleigh will tell you that your average pay has increased as a beginning teacher an incredible amount. But if you really look at the overall picture, the removal of due-process, the removal of graduate degree pay increases, the recent mandate to keep new teachers from having state supported insurance when they retire, the stunted salary schedule, and all of the other measures enacted by the current NCGA, you will see why there are fewer teacher candidates in our colleges and universities.

But you are here, and I want you to stay. Your students, schools, communities, and fellow educators want you to stay, grow, and advocate. I want you to become a better veteran teacher than I am today who is willing and ready to help any new teacher get better at what he / she does which is help students. I want you to feel empowered to take action. I want you to be able to speak up for your profession, even if it means confiding only in trusted colleagues.

I will promise you this: if students see you advocating for them and their school, they will move mountains for you because when you keep students at the center of what you do, they will notice and act in kind.

And students are the reason we are here.

Big Win on the Road – Overcoming Adversity and Playing For Team

soccer 2

If you know anything about sports here in the Triad area, then you understand the high level of competition within the high school realm. Traditionally soccer games between the ladies of West Forsyth and East Forsyth are more than competitive – they are glimpses of potential playoff games.

While I am certainly biased toward my Titans, I know the tradition and strength of the East program. Their coach is of the highest caliber and I had the privilege of teaching with him to begin my career.

I imagine it may be hard to explain, but have you ever seen a game in which there was a winning team, but the other team didn’t really lose? Watch one of the games between East and West. It is a rivalry in which both teams come out better.

What is most heartening as a West fan is that this team has had to be shuffled around on the field in response to injuries. And what marks a great team is seeing how these young ladies have been more than willing to switch positions in order to make the team stronger.

When teammates prioritize team over stats, then great things happen – like winning a conference opener on the road against a very strong team.

Looking forward to a home match tomorrow.

Go Titans.

soccer 2

 

Our Schools Should Be The Most Colorful of Places

Schools should be places that should show some of the greatest amounts of color.

Imagine if you as a teacher had to visually represent the wide array of talents, learning styles, abilities, skills, interests, and intangibles that each student displayed just inside of your classroom in a given period. For many teachers, that is a lot of students.

Extend that to representing all of the students a teacher comes into contact with in the school setting outside of the classroom. Remember, there are schools in this state with over three thousand high-schoolers.

Imagine the amount of color that would be needed. One could use the widest palette of color and it still would not encompass the width and breadth of what I would want to convey. But it is a start.

pallette

And yet, that would not be the same palette that those who quantifiably measure schools would use. How schools and students are measured on a state level rarely takes into account that so much more defines the intellectual and social terrain of a school, its students, and its culture than a standardized test can measure. Why? Because there really is not such a person as a “standardized” student.

Measuring schools in quantified manners through surreptitious algorithms and standardized tests limits in what ways the public can see how successful our schools really are. It mutes the colors significantly.

In fact, it seems as if Raleigh wants to make sure that the only palette we can use to define the “color” of our schools is limited to a few options.

gray pallette

When schools are measured in terms of “pass / fail” or with “proficiency” instead of “growth” or with bottom lines instead of processes, then there is no room for color, just shades of gray.

Each student brings so much to a classroom. They each have presence and gifts. They bring in an expertise of their lives. They bring color. Experienced teachers understand that because they look at students as individuals who are the sum of their experiences, backgrounds, work ethic, and self-worth. They see the colors and they look for more to add to the palette.

And imagine what could be accomplished when the vision of a teacher is supported by the very resources to make those colors appear on a dynamic, organic canvas that is the educational experience. What if each teacher could have this at his or her disposal?

1115_art_supplies_1200

Yet the reality with underfunded public schools is that teachers do not have enough at their disposal. Textbooks are outdated, professional development funds are nonexistent; per –pupil expenditures are still low; teacher salaries are grossly misrepresented. It’s as if what teachers only supplied to them is this:

palette empty

Too many times teachers must pay from their own pockets for the supplies to fund basic needs and enrich educational experiences. It’s like that they have to not only buy the paints and the brushes, but the very easels as well.

That should never be the case in North Carolina or anywhere that is supposed to offer a good sound basic public education.

Interestingly enough, the word “color” not only deals with something visual, but extends to other senses like sound.

The word “color” on Merriam-Webster.com has fifteen definitions for its use as a noun.

  • The sky can appear a certain color because of the “hue, lightness, and saturation.”
  • There is a certain color to his cheeks based on his “complexion.”
  • Chopin’s prose shows a lot of “local color” in that it uses “a variety of effects of language.”
  • Some people associate themselves with certain groups by wearing the “colors” of a group.
  • A musical instrument can emit a “colorful” sound.
  • We need more “persons of color” as teachers in our public schools here in North Carolina and should as a state encourage more ethnic, racial, and gender diversity in our teacher force.

“Color” is a big, vibrant, vivid, lively, energetic word.

Yes, schools should be immensely colorful.

“Lord, What Fools These Mortals Be” – What Shakespeare Teaches Us About Education Reform

400 years since he died. Four centuries. Multiple generations. New countries discovered.

And we still read his work and revere it as a mirror of human nature.

shakespeare

There is a bit of a revival taking place in some schools involving Shakespeare. The Common Core asks that student in each grade level come engage with Shakespeare in their English/Language Arts classes. Many high schools in North Carolina teach a Shakespeare elective (which is very popular in my own school).

But why does he still resonate with new generations? Simple. Shakespeare literally provides us with a blueprint for the human condition and the nature of men and women.

And I think the Bard would have much to say about our treatment of public education here in North Carolina, whose own capital was named for a man who was favored one time by the very woman who patronized Shakespeare.

In fact, he already has made statements very relevant to our state and, frankly, the entire nation.

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

Cassius, he of the “lean and hungry” look, says this to Brutus in Julius Caesar. And while many may know that this gives rise to the title of the John Green book, it makes reference to the Elizabethan tendency to look at astrology and numerology for guidance.

It also talks of taking responsibility for your actions and how those actions may affect others.

Consider the effects of “re-forms” initiated by business groups, billionaires, and legislators like unregulated charter schools and vouchers that have siphoned public monies from the very students who rely upon traditional public schools. When will they learn that these initiatives do not work and have never worked? Will they take responsibility for their failures or blame the stars?

“Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” 

These lines are from Twelfth Night spoken by Malvolio while reading a letter meant as a practical joke to feed his narcissism and fragile ego. However, there is so much truth in these words.

Think about how we as a society define “greatness,” yet remember that each person is free to interpret “greatness” in his/her own way. But the operative word in this quote is “achieve.” And there is no limit to what a student can achieve if our schools are properly funded and our teachers are supported by government officials. And just imagine how greatness would be defined.

“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” 

The Countess in All’s Well That Ends Well says this to her son. If only our legislators and lawmakers all took this to heart. It would seem appropriate to also include Polonius’s words to his son Laertes in Hamlet, “To thine own self be true.” But Polonius’s motives throughout the play show that he really is nothing more than a government official bent on maintaining power and bending precedent.

“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.” 

This is said by Touchstone, the court jester in the Arden Woods in As You Like It. What’s appropriate here is that it is the fool talking about a fool. It would be refreshing to think that those in power would even admit that their actions could actually be foolish and hurtful.

So many in Raleigh have been so dead set on their “solutions” (think Innovative School District) that they foolishly ignore what history has taught us.

“We know what we are, but not what we may be.”

As Ophelia’s madness starts to set in during the last part of Hamlet, she says this poignant quote to Claudius, who as a man in power has literally kept others from realizing their potential. Claudius is so busy with the past and the immediate present that he does not realize that he is sacrificing the future for all in his kingdom.

Sound familiar?

“If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”

This is from Shylock’s astounding monologue from Merchant of Venice as he explains that he as a Jew is discriminated against and that as a human he not treated as equally as others.

Considering that we have private schools which take Opportunity Grant monies and have admissions policies that do not allow for equal opportunity and that we also have a law on the books called HB2, Shylock’s words are still so applicable.

“Go wisely and slowly. Those who rush stumble and fall.”

Friar Laurence, a man of great intentions doomed by the fact that he is in a tragic play (Romeo & Juliet), says this to Romeo trying to teach him that rushing into actions without proper vetting can lead to mistakes and irreparable damage.

Again, sound familiar?

“Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.”

A character named Saye “says” this in Henry VI, Part 2 which is not read by many people but was a popular play of Shakespeare’s while he lived.

Think about how much could have been saved if our lawmakers really researched their “re-forming” efforts before rashly enacting them.

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

If you read Romeo & Juliet closely, you will see that Juliet is the intellectual one of the two. And she is right with this quote on so many levels. Calling NC’s “Opportunity Grants” as a road to provide quality education doesn’t change the fact that they are weak vouchers. Calling charter schools “public schools” doesn’t change that fact that they act under a different set of rules than traditional schools. Calling the new Innovative School District a means to fix failing schools doesn’t change the fact that it is a movement to privatize public education.

That “rose” still smells.

“Lord, what fools these mortals be.”

Robin Goodfellow, otherwise known as Puck, the henchman for the king of the fairies (Oberon), makes this poignant observation while watching the hilarious circus of humans in the forest during Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Makes you wonder how we will see these reform efforts and their effects when all of this is said and done.

But if you really understand Shakespeare, you know that his plays were so accessible to all Elizabethan people, especially those in the working classes and those who were not given opportunities to receive schooling. He spoke to all people.

Quality public schooling should be as accessible as Shakespeare was and still is.

Doughnuts for State Superintendent Mark Johnson

When I first stated teaching, I was at a school in the Winston-Salem / Forsyth County School System.

Winston-Salem is the home of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, and I used their doughnuts for fundraising (“Fun”raising). In fact, the club I sponsored was able to raise quite a bit of dough (pun intended).

Odd that a company that will help raise funds with a “Challenge”  every year for charity that also helps schools raise funds for things that the state does not help fund is the same one that our State Superintendent is “allying” himself with to make teachers do a slanted survey in schools that he does not even fight for?

Now, that’s irony.

At least allow me to decorate the doughnuts that Johnson will be eating and possibly vomiting back up when he does the “Krispy Kreme Challenge.”

Doughnuts

I’m thinking blue icing.

A Letter to My Daughter – “Your Dad Is a Feminist”

McK,

First, I want to let you know that you are the most important woman in my life. Always will be.

Maybe society dictates that I should say your mother is the most important woman in my life, but she and I look at you and Malcolm as the most important woman and man in our lives. You two are our children and what a privilege it has been and will continue to be your parents.

Secondly, I want you to know that your father is a feminist, a rather unabashed one at that.

Now, before you think that others may scream that this is an unmanly stance to adopt, I want to make sure you understand what I mean by “feminist.” I mean that I believe that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities in our world.

In fact, to tell you the truth, I come by it rather naturally.

I was raised by two women (your grandmother and great-grandmother) after a divorce who were presented with obstacles because of their gender and the roles that they were “supposed” to play in society. They took me to all of my ball games and practices. They sent me to school. They taught me how to treat people.

I watched how my aunt and uncle raised two strong daughters.  You call them your “aunts” and they are both tough, independent, and resilient.

I am married to the strongest woman I know, your mother. I have learned more from her about how to treat other people than anyone. And she is the daughter of another strong woman.

They all have debunked gender myths and taught me that being a feminist is right and just and something that a strong man can and should be, especially if he is the father of a young lady in this world who is coming into her own and has the intelligence and the ability to see the world for what it is and fight for what she sees as important.

I want you to know that there are a lot of people who do not think this way. When you go off to college and into adulthood, you will run into men (young and old) who do not value women in the same way that others do.

The case of Brock Turner comes to mind often. He is the ex-Stanford swimmer who constantly serves as a reminder that entitlement can trump decency (pun intended).

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/03/31/all-american-swimmer-found-guilty-of-sexually-assaulting-unconscious-woman-on-stanford-campus/

Even the judge in the case who only sentenced this rapist to a six month maximum sentence perpetuates the reality that people in power do not always have the best interests in mind for all people involved.

I can only hope that I as a father have set at least some sort of precedent on how you as a woman should expect to be treated by a man. And I hope that you talk to your mother about this. She knows, and because you are the most important woman in her life, she will tell you the truth and give you honest answers to questions you have every right to ask.

I promise you that I will try and do the same – honest answers to tough questions because we taught you to ask tough questions.

And please remember that there is a reason that I teach certain works of literature the way that I do. That’s because I want the young ladies in my class to realize that women have always been agents of change; they have been the constant, the backbone, the foundation for so many stories in a male-dominated society. In fact, I argue that some of our greatest male writers were feminists in their own right.

  • Think of Shakespeare’s Rosalind, Viola, Portia, and Imogen.
  • Think of Chaucer’s Wife of Bath.
  • Think of Hawthorne’s Hester Prynne.
  • Think of Homer’s Penelope.
  • Think of Tolkien’s Eowyn.

The list goes on.

Now think of the #MeToo Movement. The Marches for Women. And look how many women are running for public office .

There are so many things that I want you to have, not least are a sense of self and self-worth. You do not have to accept being objectified or looked down upon because you are a woman.

And there are many other men who feel the way I do and gladly call themselves a feminist.