What if…

  • by: Chaya Gorsetman and Amy Ament

Chaya R. Gorsetman, Ed.D is a Clinical Assistant Professor and supervisor of the Early Childhood Education Track at Stern College for Women of Yeshiva University. She served as the director and co-author of the JOFA Gender and Orthodoxy Curriculum Project, Bereshit: A New Beginning—A Differentiated Approach to Learning and Teaching, and is a Senior Mentor in The Lookstein Center’s ELAI program. Amy T. Ament mentors new teachers through the Jewish New Teacher Project and is a doctoral student at the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education at Yeshiva University. She co-authored Bereshit: A New Beginning—A Differentiated Approach to Learning and Teaching through JOFA Gender and Orthodoxy Curriculum Project.

Read the accompanying article, here.

  • boys did not hear the words “stop crying, you’re a big boy” when working through sad or frustrating emotions?
  • girls were allowed to “get dirty” and were encouraged to play with dirt and mud and sand?
  • boys were encouraged to play with dolls and strollers?
  • girls were encouraged to work in the block area (join the boys in collaborative efforts)?
  • in Jewish children’s books men and women clean, bake and prepare for Shabbat?
  • a children’s book about Sukkot showed a picture of the mother standing on a ladder?
  • we weren’t afraid to teach girls how to read the Torah (if only to enrich their understanding of text)?
  • girls had opportunities in the classroom to recite kiddush (women have a halakhic obligation regarding kiddush)
  • boys were allowed to light Shabbat candles in class (men have a halakhic obligation to light candles)
  • we considered the message we send when we use the nicknames “sweetie” and “buddy”?
  • fathers were invited to school to bake hallah with the children?
  • mothers were invited to schools to daven with the children?

Other questions for teachers to consider.

  • What impact do our words and actions have on our students? Are we even aware that our own underlying beliefs subconsciously influence how we speak to children? Do we consider the effect we have on girls’ and boys’ identities?
  • When we encounter gender issues in the classroom, do we recognize them as opportunities to create a more inclusive environment?
  • Are we quicker to label boys as ADHD than girls?
  • Do female teachers treat boys differently than girls?
  • Who gets called on more, boys or girls? Does it depend on subject (math, reading)? Are boys called on more because teachers want to reign in their behavior?
  • Are there differences in how we praise boys and girls? How we respond to incorrect answers?

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