Sex, Gender and How to Use Pronouns
This is a short lesson on how to understand gender and pronouns in English
Submitted by gordy1
April 28, 2023
Estimated time: ~30 minutes for the powerpoint the rest of the class would work well with a pronouns worksheet
This is a straightforward lesson on gender and how to explain it to students so they don't get confused with how the nuances are changing in some smaller communities in some western countries.There are directions under each slide. I would recommend speaking with your JTE and discussing the goals of learning pronouns; as the ALT you can clarify the situation so students who travel abroad do not get confused.
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I like the idea of introducing this topic, but there is a lot of incorrect information- what you're talking about with chromosomes is not gender, it's sex. There are also other sexes than male and female in the "Animal Kingdom". There's even more than two types of clothing sections (unisex, etc) and bathrooms?? My point is, I think this powerpoint is rather misleading.
When I read this powerpoint I just didn't know what to think. Why is it called a lesson on gender and then at the end you basically say - ask your parents? Just not clear what you are trying to say. Personally I would stay way away from this subject and just concentrate on English.
Yeah, I'd stick to English. Plus, people know the term 'LGBT' here. I hear my teachers mentioning it in the teacher's room. We have a trans kid at our school. We have drag queens in our city. It's kind of weird that you'd purposefully leave out the 'T' at the end of 'LGBT', among various other statements that I believe many people would disagree with. We aren't trained to teach this topic, but that's okay cause it's not our job.
I do think this is a somewhat necessary topic to atleast touch on, even insofar as teaching a foreign language's pronouns. But the handling and choice of words to use in this powerpoint does not really do any favours. Being foreign, students with LGBTQIA+ identities may look to us to be the people that finally are more socially accepting of them. Further pushing them to the margin with misunderstandings could have a huge impact on their mental health.
This activity is getting a lot of comments that I've held in the moderation queue because they don't follow the rule of containing either positive or productive feedback. I don't allow comments that just dunk on activities (and other activities get these comments too) because it coursens the discourse on the site and turns it into the normal mess you see elsewhere on the internet.
I'd request of anyone who disagrees with the content of this activity that you present your feedback in a way that the creator is likely to listen to it. I'll put comments on time-out rather than let comment sections descend into personal attacks.
I edited this powerpoint to be more accomodating after speaking with Jake. This is a website for resources and I wanted to share one.
@kusobaba - This is an English topic as pronouns are part of the language. I said ask your parents because ultimately they should decide what information their child should internalize.
@Htemple - I left out the T because it is a more complex term to explain and in the likelihood of questions I wanted to avoid further confusion and discussing the topic and instead focus on the English.
@altirasuto - sex is drawn from gender and it is the societal norm in Japan. I am unaware of multiple sexes in the animal kingdom. I believe there are other resources on this website that would fit closer to your viewpoints
(As of writing this comment I don't think the revised version of the powerpoint has been uploaded.) I have some concerns about the language used in this powerpoint, and the effect it could have on LGBTQ students in the classrooms. I feel it is misleading and harmful to tell students that their ONLY OPTIONS in English for singular pronouns are he/him and she/her. All that's needed is to say that some people don't identify as male or female, and use they/them pronouns. (1/2)
(2/2) Also, they/them pronouns are in the dictionary and are very common in many western countries, so I feel it is misleading to tell students that it is uncommon and not correct English. It IS an English topic, but it feels as though this powerpoint has veered away from the English portion. I would suggest keeping it simple and using inclusive language.
This is a link to MEXT policy on gender identity and how schools should be mindful. I suspect the reason to remove the discussed material from the site or at least drop an official warning is that it contracts the policy of most of our employers, the ministry of education and the BOEs. Using that material can get you in trouble regardless of your personal political or religious point of view.
Sometimes we need to remember our opinions are just our opinions the policies of our employer trumps them. In matters where our employers believe student welfare is involved it is a dangerously self-destructive choice to contravene that policy.
Amongst the recommendations are ‘teachers should avoid making heartless comments about gender identity’ and ‘teachers shouldn’t draw attention to students dealing with gender identity issues’. Now in my opinion this material appears to very strongly violate both those guidelines.
@UonumaRobert - sorry you feel that way mate. My goal wasn't to spread my opinion, just to give a resource to people. Whether anyone uses it or not is entirely up to them. Thank you for sharing the MEXT link, I think it is a good resource for people checking this out to have at their disposal.
Well thought out presentation. Interesting to see complaints written by other westerners on behalf of the Japanese under the veil of protecting them. I suggest anyone interested in discussing this topic within school speak to actual Japanese people on the matter and hear from them directly about it rather than taking advice from other western ALTs that want to speak for them.
@gordy1 clearly your goal was to spread your opinion. I’ve followed Jake’s discussion on the matter. You wanted your ‘point of view’ represented. And you’ve got it represented. Congrats. Hopefully anyone that sees your activity going forward will read the comments and consider how it might be harmful to some students from the current point of view of those who pay us.
i knew what the comment section was going to look like as soon as i read the title lol. I wouldnt use this in a classroom for the same reason i wouldnt hold a lesson on religion. no matter what you believe in, other people may strongly feel the opposite. it takes one kid telling their parents and your school could get a monster mom and i definitely wouldnt want that to happen because of one of my lessons. definitely use this at your own risk but personally, i wouldnt.
Others have brought this up but it is odd to finish the slide notes with "The slidewhow is to teach about pronouns not to give opinions on personal beliefs", when the rest of it was filled with your opinions. If it is just about pronouns why did you include a history lesson slide on feminism? It seems out of place.
On the English side of it I recommend... capitalizing the E in English on slide 4, also more consistency of terms such when introducing in slide 2, boys/males girls/females I think you should also add the terms men as well as women, then in slide 2 you say "Because males are faster and stronger than women" going with the idea of boys/girls, males/females, men/women you should change one of the terms in the sentence to match the correct counterpart.
Finally on the math side "In sports we have 2 categories: Mens and womens OR boys and girls." this is four categories as they can occur at the same time based off of gender/sex and age, but it is also incorrect as some events are not limited by sex/gender. For example The Tokyo "2020" Olympic Games had sports in which women and men competed together (mixed team snowboard cross, ski aerials, ski jumping, and short-track speed skating.). There are many types of categories that exist in sports.
(1/2) While I don't think this is a lesson I would use with my students, I appreciate the clear examples of how to use he/she in the context of English discussions. Japanese use a more complicated way of referring to themselves (and others), so it's a good idea to teach about how we do so in English. Many of these comments are baffling to me. Whether you agree with @gordy1 or not, he was at least responsible enough to end with "ask your parents."
Meanwhile, I've seen other lessons on this site that taught radical gender theory as if it was common sense.
As ALTs, our job is to introduce English to these students. We should be mindful that Japan is still a very conservative culture, and avoid broaching controversial topics with at least advising students to seek guidance from their authority figures.
Since some are giving advice to improve your ‘resource’ I guess I’ll offer a piece. You end it with the somewhat flippant suggestion that students should just ask their parents. The survey done by the ministry says about 60% of respondents aren’t out to their families. And it’s likely they have their reasons. If it’s truly your intention to be helpful and not harmful find the contact information for your prefectural office that gives professional guidance and add a link.
@gordy1 You've already complicated things by mentioning it at all. You included a science lesson and a history lesson as well. Seems wholly distracting from the English. I get the argument of context and all, but why bother when you say, "the parents are responsible"? As an aside, there's like a whole list of reptiles/amphibians who reproduce asexually, and a list of animals who actually change sex naturally or have both organs. It's interesting stuff and shouldn't be summarized so nonchalantly.
The focus is definitely not on the English as you say it is, and it's even more obvious when reading your notes at the bottom of the slides.
I agree that this seems very rooted in one person's personal views and all-in-all doesn't seem like a good topic for people in our position to be bringing up. Also, you are overlooking that they/them can be used in the singular when one doesn't know the gender of the person involved.
It seems like an easy way to get reprimanded by your BOE and negatively reflect on all ALTs. I'm especially concerned for new ALTs who are well-intentioned but might not know better and use this and land in hot water.
Even if you like this presentation, you must admit it's incrediably inappropriate for 99% of the classes ALTs find themselves in. I'm really not sure in what situation this would be appropriate, and it seems like it'll cause more issues than it'll solve.
In regards to the presentation, I think toilets and shopping aren't apt examples of binary in daily life as they are constructed to be binary rather than natural. Also there are gender neutral bathrooms and shops without two sections for clothing.
The claim that you are just providing this information as a resource and not to communicate political bias seems rather disingenuous, as the framing of information is highly relevant when considering the type of message you are sending. The extraneous information about biology, how the feminist movement has mostly met its goals, and the decision to not include the T in LGBT only seem to make sense when put in the context of making an essentialist argument about gender that excludes trans people.