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Bias In The Classroom (Or Mixed Messages) This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   According to Webster's Dictionary, bias is any type of prejudice. Recently, we had a brush with gender bias in our literature class. This incident got us wondering; why is there so little about women in history and literature books?

Apparently we aren't the only people wondering about this. Researchers at Wellesley College conducted a study last fall on bias in school textbooks. This study showed that men and boys were the subjects of reading materials ten percent more frequently than women and girls. Another idea for you to think over is that females were used nineteen percent more in photographs and illustrations. It makes these two teenage girls wonder about the idealism of today's culture.

If our classroom is typical, you can clearly see the bias. So far this year, we have read ten novels and short stories. Not one of these has dealt with a female lead or central character. Of the women we did read about (as less important characters, of course), we saw a woman who did nothing but cry because she was cold (Mercedes of The Call of the Wild), a young woman of great beauty who had the mental capacities of a very small child (Weena of The Time Machine), and an older woman whose son was ashamed of her because she wasn't as "good" as his friends' mothers (Mrs. Wojack of The Torn Invitation). These are the only females we have to look up to and emulate? When we confronted our teacher (who happens to be male), he informed us that we're going to read two or three books later this year with females as lead characters. Fine, but what's two or three out of twelve or thirteen? That's basically nothing and only serves to further prove our point. Also, we've noticed that a lot of the women who figure largely in history were martyrs, like Joan of Arc and Anne Frank. Does a woman have to die for the sake of a principle to make it into history books ? Is that what it takes for a female to leave her mark? We certainly hope not.

Our teacher told us we could bring in suggestions and he'd consider them. So we compiled the following list for some enlightened reading:

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt; Deenie by Judy Blume; Celine by Brock Cole; Prairie Songs by Pam Conrad; The Cat Ate My Gymsuit by Paula Danzinger; The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank;

Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George; The Story of Helen Keller by Lorena A. Hickok; They Led the Way by Johanna Johnston; Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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lulucpac said...
Dec. 5, 2011 at 9:06 pm
You should put actual bias reports done by your children on the website so that people can truly understans when you say: bias. Thanks!
 
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