Stanford Launches Short Online Course to Boost Understanding of Transgender Kids

 

In 2011, Stanford Medicine lecturer Maya Adam, MD, had just finished teaching her undergraduate course on critical issues in child health when a student approached her with some feedback. “I loved your class, but you are missing one issue,” the student said. “You need a lecture on transgender children’s health.”

Adam’s response was “You’re right … but I know so little about that.” Her own medical training had never mentioned transgender children; she was unsure what difficulties they faced. Adam soon realized this knowledge gap was common, not just among physicians but also among teachers and other professionals who work with kids.

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HOW (NOT) TO TEACH GENDER

 

Funnily enough, my students couldn’t care less about the words I use to describe myself, and I am fine with that. Christine used the language she knew to ascertain my gender identity; tomboy has always been a socially acceptable term for a boyish little girl. (As long as she grows out of it by high school.)

I offer up this story about Christine not to show how wonderful a teacher I was in that moment. In fact, I probably tried too hard. As for the theater director, there were many other times in my childhood when adults questioned my gender presentation. They made me feel abnormal, small, and invisible, which is another way of saying they did not see me—not as I saw myself, anyhow. I get mis-gendered every day, and I still feel abnormal, small, and invisible from time to time.

I offer up these stories to show how deeply painful one teacher’s words were. Preconceived notions of gender are like a thick fog that has always been there; we will only notice how much we weren’t seeing when it finally lifts. Those who defy gender roles may stick out like a sore thumb. As teachers, we may never know when we are making a student feel abnormal, small, or invisible.

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Tips To Calm An Anxious Child

” Imagine you are driving in the car. You look in the rearview mirror and see your child trying to shrink into her seat.

 

“What’s wrong?” you ask.

 

“I don’t want to go to the birthday party.”

 

“But you’ve been excited all week. There will be cake and games and a bounce house. You love all of those things,” you try to reason.

 

“But I can’t go. There will be lots of people there I don’t know. No one will play with me. My tummy hurts.”

 

Sound familiar? As a parent of an anxious child, you might regularly find yourself in situations where no matter what you try, what effort you make, what compassion you offer, or what love you exude, nothing seems to help quash the worry that is affecting your little one’s everyday interactions.

 

In my work with anxious children, I have found it tremendously beneficial for both parents and kids to have a toolkit full of coping skills from which to choose. As you know, every child is different and some of the tools described below will resonate more than others. When you pick one to work with, please try it at least two to three times before making a judgment on whether it suits your child and family.

Creative Decline

Dr. Peter Gray, professor at Boston College, brings us this article (with citations) on the impact of increasingly rigid classroom expectations.

“Creativity is nurtured by freedom and stifled by the continuous monitoring, evaluation, adult-direction, and pressure to conform that restrict children’s lives today.  In the real world few questions have one right answer, few problems have one right solution; that’s why creativity is crucial to success in the real world.  But more and more we are subjecting children to an educational system that assumes one right answer to every question and one correct solution to every problem, a system that punishes children (and their teachers too) for daring to try different routes.  We are also, as I documented in a previous essay, increasingly depriving children of free time outside of school to play, explore, be bored, overcome boredom, fail, overcome failure—that is, to do all that they must do in order to develop their full creative potential.”

Read the full article here.