Creating an Inner Sanctum
When many people think of "home" we think of a place where we feel safe and accepted. We have the freedom to be ourselves. There are others who can only wish that home was such a place. Nakkula p. 108 writes about the correlation between identity development and strong family support.
If kids cannot receive this support at home, it is essential that students have a place at school where they know that their thoughts and opinions are heard and valued. As teachers we can create an "inner sanctum" (p. 108), where our students can grow both emotionally and intellectually. I want my classroom to be a place where we can try to break down the so called"norms" of masculine and feminine behavior that society has deemed acceptable. Pastor, McCormick, and Fine (p.107) define and describe "homeplaces." These are places within the school where kids can feel safe to express their ideas and voice their frustrations. As teachers, we have all witnessed how effective this can be.
Through out the chapter, Nakkula writes about the expectations that society puts upon males and females and how schools themselves are gendered spaces. Skiba (p. 105), found that by high school, there are many more boys that are taking advanced math and science classes. I found this to be true in my own life as a student. When I was in college, there were many more males than females in the more advanced science classes. Only a few years ago I also experienced this when I was assisting a friend in a nearby public high school. I was helping out in an AP chemistry class. One of the guidance councilors came in to speak with the seniors that were in the class. He told them that an admissions officer from a certain college would be coming in to speak with any students who were interested in pre-med. I was pleased to see that most students raised their hands. The councilor then addressed only the girls and said that an advisor from a nursing school would also be coming soon. I couldn't believe what I was witnessing! After the councilor left, I made sure that all students knew that they were all welcome and capable of looking into pre-med or nursing whether they were male or female!
An interesting thing happened in my class this week while I was reading this chapter. I have been meeting after school with some of my students who are contributing to my comic book. My little group has become quite close to one another. It has been a wonderful thing to watch unfold. One of the boys is a very good artist. He once told me that he wanted to be a fashion designer. Last week I complimented him on his drawings for the lab that were were doing. I told him that he would turn out to be a great fashion designer one day. He told me that he had "turned his back on his dream." Apparently his father did not approve and he had destroyed all of his designs. His father did not think that this was a career for a man. I told him not to give up on his dream. The next week my little group was hard at work. He came up and showed me his comic. It was about a girl not giving up on her dream. I asked him if the girl represented him. He said that it was him. Nakkula (p. 115) expresses how important it is as educators it is our job "to promote learning through safe and enriching experiences." (p. 115) We can accomplish this by creating safespaces for our students. Nakkula also goes on to say that "It is the fight to help our students be fully present as learners, as classmates, as the people they see themselves to be."