Monday, November 26, 2012

Putting Theory Into Practice -- Or, When the Bubble Bursts

In this stage of the game we all know our own brilliance and recognize the same in our peers. We’ve come to value ourselves for what we have to offer and our classmates for the additional insights they provide our already whirling minds. Some of us have geeked out at various SARS, developmental theorists, lesson plans, or yes, even that blasted biology coloring book. We have faced topics that invigorate and thrill us and some that churn our stomachs. As many of us round the bend to obtaining our MEd, I ponder what this experience is going to look like, outside a classroom. How I am going to be able to practically apply the concepts we have learned, discussed, and hopefully mastered. If I will do right by all of you I’ve shared this extraordinary experience with.

Collectively, we have a wealth of superb ideas as to how to keep our field invigorating and fresh and exciting. We ask a lot of ourselves in regards to considerations we must make before teaching. Look at this blog alone: media and technology, resources, language challenges, political climate concerns, discomfort within populations, inclusivity and disclosure. I am not afraid to say that in class these are phenomenal to discuss, in terms of practical application they may look more like a mountain to climb. We try our best to anticipate how we may act, feel or respond in given situations, but there is no way to be prepared for every last thing. However, I have to note that it’s the unexpected happening that may hold the most benefits for us as educators, especially in this field.

Personally, I have had the pleasure of a life changing moment (or many) in this program, but there’s one that guides me, even when trying to articulate this post to all of you. Many of you know that coming into this program there are certain topics that I knew I needed more knowledge in, transgenderism and transgender issues being at the forefront. Nothing could have prepared me for the day I walked down a long hall and was fabulously awe struck by a room full of beautiful transgender individuals. To this day, I am slightly embarrassed to say I have no idea what my face looked like. I know my heart swelled with delight and enthusiasm, but I’m certain no one could know that just by looking. No amount of reading or studying prepared me for my own reaction.

While this post may wander, please understand that my message is clear. Every concept, whether it fascinates or infuriates us, is likely to be someone’s lived experience. In all our preparations and considerations, please take this as your friendly reminder to interpret information differently if it is coming from a person rather than a text book.

While many of us have some teaching experience, I don’t know of anyone who can say they’ve faced it all.  I’d love my contribution to this blog to be a thread where we share what still makes us nervous, what we might still be uncertain about, or what we straight up hope never to come across. While I hope to regard you all as resources for many years to come, lets also make the best of each other while we are here in this common space.
Ready? I’ll start.
What makes me nervous - THIS becoming mainstream thought amongst anyone, particularly young people, and seeking to eradicate gains made by feminist movements.
What I am still uncertain about - If I can be of any use in THIS area of sexuality education.
What I straight up hope never to come across - Perhaps obviously, THESE beliefs, especially if staunchly held by young people in a classroom setting.


  1. Wonderful post Lindsey! I want to thank you for being so honest, vulnerable, and introspective. It really can feel daunting when we are discussing all the factors that go into effective education and how we are going to put these ideas/theories realistically into practice. Every time there is a new angle to consider or a new layer to delve into I want to shy away from it at first because it just feels like there's already so much on our educator plates, but then I realized that we can't do it all, all the time, and that put my mind slightly at ease. Now I'm not saying that we can't synthesize all these fantastic methods and theories and create a unique product for each population we work with, but we can't get too wrapped up in hitting everything every time we work with a new group. I feel that this great foundation, mixed with teaching experience/time, and an expertise in each of our respective mini-fields will set us up for fulfilling and effective careers in sex ed.

    Before I get too optimistic and/or sappy I'll answer the prompts:
    What makes me nervous-much the same as Lindsey said, sexism/racism/classism/all the isms and pretty much everything comes along with not living in, or really making a concerted effort towards becoming, an egalitarian society. This makes me very nervous, and not just for the future of sex education.

    What I am still uncertain about-how to create a go-to mini toolkit of all these underpinnings and strategies to aid me in growing as a teacher after I am no longer in the classroom learning about how to become one (aka I am uncertain about how to answer Lindsey's questions about practical application in a more concrete way)

    What I straight up hope never to come across-people who are hateful and/or don't even want to have a discussion about topics that they disagree with

  2. What's so wrong with a "Boy Meets World" marathon every now and again? Hello, Winter Break...

    I think what makes me the most nervous is the pressure I feel, as Lindsey said in her post, to do right by all of the people with whom I've shared this experience, as well as the people who are training me to go out there and do professional work that is supported by fact and strong theory. There's so much to know and remember, and so many issues to keep in mind, and such a strong need to be able to justify everything we do and say--but I'm just a person who doesn't always remember to cross all my "T"s and dot all my "I"s. But I'm heartened by knowing that mistakes are what help me learn, if I can remember to use those moments. And knowing that, really, the true learning happens when we're out of school. All this stuff we're doing now, that's just to ensure some basic level of competence. And I'm especially heartened by the theme of "good" development from 643, that as long as the good outweighs the bad and I strive for the good, it'll be okay--which I think applies here as well.

    What I'm still uncertain about is how I will react when I come across those people who are hateful and/or refuse to have a discussion about topics with which they disagree. What is my place as an educator in those circumstances? I suppose it depends on the particular context, and I'll have to be okay with making mistakes.

    What I straight up hope never to come across is the above, same as Bryce. And more specifically, those people as coworkers or my higher-ups. I don't get energy from the challenge of working with Sue Sylvester. 'Cause they don't forgive mistakes.

  3. I feel the same way about taking advantage of each other as much and as often as we can. Actually, what makes me most nervous is being out there alone in front of a room of people that are looking to me to be the expert on everything without my phone handy to text that happens to be an expert in to help me through an awkward moment. I appreciate that Josh reminded me of the “good” development. It calms my nerves, and reaffirms my concern. Anyway, I guess my point is… even after graduation many of you won’t be rid of me. : )

    I am still uncertain if I actually want to be an educator. My work experience and primary goals have always been more related to clinical work, but I find that I’m more and more interested in education. I have actually found a good niche for myself with my community partner project where I am planning to educate mental health professional about treatment for transgender clients in and inpatient psychiatric hospital. However, I’m still not sure if I like education because I like the Widener program and my cohort or if I really could be happy with a career in education. I suppose I just have to wait for time to tell on this one. Like Bryce was saying, you sort of have to mix experiences with education to end with something effective.

    As others have said, I straight up never hope to come across people that are hateful or unwilling to expand their perceptions of topics in sexuality. I agree with Josh that it would be particularly hard with “higher-ups” but I also think it would be hard to do if you were outnumbered. For example, If I found myself teaching a trans-sensitivity workshop to an entire room full of heteronormative, transphobic people with no intention of considering new ideas or gender nonconformity in any way. TERRIFYING.

    (Thanks for creating a space for us to talk about our fears. With two jobs, a full course load, and starting practicum, its nice to have a place to be a little vulnerable.)

  4. I enjoyed your post Lindsey,
    I think of the old saying that you can't be young and wise and since must of us are "young" in the sense that most of us are starting out on our path towards the careers we want to have it makes sense to me that we have a lot of nervousness about not holding knowledge regarding potential populations. Experience, whether good or bad, is what makes a person a better educator. I think that, although we may not know every question, the individuals in this program know exponentially more than most individuals in the world regarding sexuality. We also have many tools to increase our knowledge that others do not. We know how to approach a new topic and approach it from different angles and figure out the relevant information that will benefit our students. These are the skills that are so beneficial which makes me confident, that when presented with groups that make me nervous, I will be able to succed in educating these new populations.

    What Makes me nervous- Becoming complacent in my work as an edcuator or becoming stagnant in my desire for knowledge about human sexualiyt and new sexual topics

    What I am uncertain about- Governmental policies at all levels of government that will take away sexual rights and control over sexual health

    I hope to never come across- This was tough because the population I do not want to come across are rape victim blamers or rape apoogists, but at the same time I believe that evey sex educator must confront this group of men in order to reduce sexual violence