For a long time, I wanted to do something in my classes that not only inspired the girls but also taught the boys that girls are to be respected. This is how “Woman of the Week” started in my class. I have a wall dedicated to “WoW” (Woman of the Week) and I try to vary up the woman we learn about.
I first started out by using the amazing Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls books (best investment ever) but now I choose the woman depending on who is in the news or I try to relate it to what we are learning in class.
I would like to share an extract from the Preface of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls Volume 1:
It is important that girls understand the obstacles that lie in front of them. It is just as important that they know these obstacles are not insurmountable. That not only can they find a way to overcome them, but that they can remove these obstacles for those who will come after them, just like these great women did.
Now one thing my boys love to ask me is why we don’t have “Man of the Week”, or why do they have to learn about different women?
For the “MoW” question I answer that “no matter the importance of their discoveries, the audacity of their adventures, the width of their genius- they (women) were constantly belittled, forgotten, in some cases almost erased from history. ” They weren’t sure what I meant at the time but the more stories we have done the more they are starting to understand and see the truth in the statement.
For the “why” question, I explain to them that it’s important they see what women are able to accomplish things too and that women can be just as kick-ass awesome as men. It is crucial that they learn to identify and empathize also with female heroes! Korea is slowly but surely changing but it still has some patriarchal and misogynistic tendencies that linger. For this reason, I want my boys to see women as more than just mothers, sisters or daughters.
I have compiled a list of all the women I have done (at the end of the post). If you click on their name you will go to a new page with information on the lessons I have done along with any of the resources I have used.
I would like to encourage you to start something similar in your own classroom, or at home. It is never too early or too late to start with something like this.
I would like to leave you with the last paragraph of the Preface of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls Volume 1 as this is what I hope you get from this blog too:
May these brave pioneers inspire you. May their portraits impress upon our daughters the solid belief that beauty manifests itself in all shapes and colours, and at all ages. May each reader know the greatest success is to live a life full of passion, curiosity, and generosity. May we all remember every day that we have the right to be happy and to explore wildely. Now that you’re holding this book, all we can feel is hope and enthusiasm for the world we’re building together. A world where gender will not define how big you can dream, how far you can go. A world where each of us will be able to say with confidence: “I am free.”
Thank you for being part of this journey.
- Images and resources I use
- Rosa Parks
- Harriet Tubman (Former slave turned underground railroad conductor)
- Virginia Hall (WW2 Bad-ass Spy)
- Agatha Christie (Writer)
- Rosalind Franklin (DNA Scientist)
- Bette Nesmith Graham (invented whiteout)
- Andrée Peel
- Leymah Gbowee
- Ashima Shiraishi
- Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson
- Marie Severin
- Audrey Hepburn
- Mikaila Ulmer