school’s out: how our education is failing the feminist movement
I always used to groan about how pointless high school seemed. I spent countless hours analysing what the red room meant in Jane Eyre and learning maths that I still haven’t used in everyday life. But there was something we didn’t learn, that I’d only heard briefly used and out of context until university, that would have benefited everyone so much more than quadratic functions. The feminist movement.
Until taking a human rights class at uni, feminism meant bra-burning man haters who couldn’t take a joke and the feminist movement was something the mum from Mary Poppins sang a song about. I was taught about smoking and sex in primary school, but I turned 18 thinking cat-calling was meant to be taken as a compliment.
Such a large, important and ongoing movement was ignored in place of other issues.
The year 10 history curriculum for Victorian students states that it will focus the year on ‘the history of the modern world and Australia from 1918 to the present.’
The course works off of ‘key concepts, including evidence, continuity and change, cause and effect, perspectives, empathy, significance and contestability,’ according to the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority.
These key concepts seem to beg focus to be placed on important movements such as the civil rights and the feminist movement. The civil rights movement is briefly covered in some schools, based only on the fact that To Kill a Mockingbird is a popular literature choice, but nothing from the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority safeguards students learning the movement in particular.
In defense of the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, the study of World Wars one and two and the Vietnam War are important aspects of the modern world that warrant a whole year’s worth of teaching. But I’m sure that at some point in thirteen years of schooling, there is room to teach – at least an introduction – to a movement that continues to liberate and protect more than half of the population.
Ignoring the feminist movement in education is an insult to all those who worked and suffered for their rights in the past. In the present, it makes it difficult for men and women to realise the rights they have, especially regarding issues such as sexual harassment and domestic abuse, and it stunts our future growth in eliminating sexism, sexual violence and misconceptions about feminism.
As the cliché says, children are our future. If we hope to continue the immense amount of change those before us brought about, we need to start educating kids on gender equality, both in how far we have come and how far we can yet go.
After all, surely a movement that did and continues to bring about so much positive change and impacts everyone on an almost daily basis should be as important as quadratics.