The last and the most crucial session of the two day gender training program with the teachers of rural government school, Noashera had one single objective – to give them a language, to equip them with the tools with which they can co-create safe and gender inclusive class rooms for the students.
The session began with a small video where it shows how teacher leaves the hierarchical status and builds a classroom where voice of each student is heard, the class which was termed rowdy becomes a support system for one another, motivating each other to push their limits instead of pulling them down. This was followed by mind mapping around the teaching aids which can be used to engage the students for sexuality education – flash cards, models, pictures, charts, abacus, storytelling, audio visual to name few.
It’s not always easy for a teacher to take out an extra class for sexuality education, so discussed as to how one can use their subject knowledge to talk about taboo-ed issues, some of the very interesting options were-
“With English, drama, debates, slogans and references from the stories can be used”
“Being a Mathematics teacher, I can talk about choice of subjects and gender- supporting them to break fixed mindsets and help them to work on improving their aptitude. Also numbers and integers can be used to talk about gender discrimination”
“I have assembly responsibility, so there we can provide equitable responsibility to boys and girls so that the discrimination which is visible there can be eradicated”
“In social sciences, we can talk about history of strong willed women who broke gender stereotypes and are an example for the society”
“Being a science teacher, we would use models, and with open mind teach in details reproduction system along with the building understanding on gender”
In the next part of the session, we shared the tools that we use during our sessions with adolescents which included various mind mapping tools, videos, stories, group discussion points etc.
Now each teacher was given 30 minutes to prepare a 10 minute session for their class, few of them were asked to volunteer to present their session.
One of the teacher, explained “Menstruation and taboos”- it was interesting to see that he used charts and film to explain periods, menstrual cycle and the myths associated with it. The other participants asked lot of questions around it which were also answered.
One of the other female teacher conducted a session on “Puberty” and “Child sexual abuse”- it was very impressive as she weaved a story and step by step explained the body changes and the emotional changes that come along it, and what all societal pressures one go through it.
Another teacher used presentation to explain gender differences and how anyone be it boy or a girl can challenge gender norms by giving examples.
So, since there were 30 teachers, with time limitations it was not possible that all 30 participants could present their sessions- but I would love to share few very innovative and creative designs-
One of the teachers had used concept of rational and irrational numbers to explain Peer pressure, someone used art to explain Child sexual abuse, someone used presentation to explain puberty and body changes, one of them created a design to prevent child sexual abuse- I was astounded by the creativity and innovative ways by which teachers have prepared their session, I couldn’t even imagine how much interest this would generate among the students. With this, I had this wish that I could have had such teachers but I was also happy that we could facilitate them to make such sessions which would be immensely helpful for the adolescents.
“You have immense energy, how I wish our teachers had half energy as much as you, the school would have been much better. But please continue doing this work. I am highly inspired and I would make sure my classes and students are more informed and responsible students”
"I am coming from Gurudwara, i had to give speech there, so for 15 minutes i engaged with the people on gender discrimination. You won't believe men and women were sitting together unlike other situations where they sit in different rows"
"I was deeply intimidated by yesterday's conversation, after the workshop i directly spoke to my wife and daughter about child sexual abuse and also about gender. So what if she is young she should be aware and independent to combat any situation"
Nothing could have been a better closure for me. As a student, I remember struggling to have conversations with teacher, but never got courage because they were so strict and went by discipline with no scope for asking questions related to subjects forget about sharing problems. I think this is one step towards breaking that structure which is shielded by the wall of discipline to facilitate conversations between teachers and students.