I received a question this week from a male teacher in a gendered dilemma. I am equally stumped by the scenario. Perhaps the situation is easier for you to untangle. In an effort to protect the student’s identity, we will give the teacher a pseudonym—Mr. Y (for Y Chromosome).
A junior approached Mr. Y and asked to be signed up to his Advanced Placement (AP) class. The first thing he noticed was her bulging belly. She was indeed pregnant. Being a father, Mr. Y asked her when she is due, and she said “Before school ends, but I’ll have all my work turned in.” He then began asking her about her GPA, extra curricular activities, etc. Mr. Y said he does this with all his AP hopefuls, explaining that he needs to get a picture of whether this (or any) student is up for the rigor. (He referenced the post/video about the dark side of AP classes–Advanced Pressure.)
She is a “C” student and has a “D” this year in a class, with comments, saying she has missed assignments and poor test grades. When he asked her why she had a “D” in a class two quarters straight, she said, “I don’t get that class.”
So, Mr. Y begins thinking,
“She is not taking ownership of the ‘D.’ Why didn’t she get help after school if she doesn’t get the class? If she’s an average student (and in one class below average) without taking any AP classes, how is she going to handle the rigor of a college class? I can see if she was an ‘A’ student pre-pregnancy, but she isn’t. It’s hard for advanced students to do well in Advanced Placement classes. [See the link on “Advanced Pressure” as context if you haven’t already.] Additionally, she will have a baby. She’ll be a senior, with senioritis. I do not think it will be a great fit. When she has this baby, she’s not going to be thinking about class and even if she is, she will be torn. “ The guidance counselors at the school are having staffing issues this year and have “not given her any” guidance. He asks, “What should I do? Am I a sexist or a realist?”
I am typically quick on my feet, but this one caught me off guard because on one hand, he may be looking out for her best interest; then the echoes of all the assigned feminist readings in graduate school began to haunt me and I wondered if (on the other hand) it is paternalistic for a man to “help” a pregnant girl decide what is best for her for her future. If he dissuades her, will he be perpetuating some form of male domination? I somehow felt incompetent to answer his question. I need to get back to him, but before I do, can you help us Ys out?
What’s a man to do a week before Women’s History Month?