Bad banter: the gendered language of students

Bad banter: the gendered language of students

The first resource we’d like to discuss this year is an opinion piece published in The Age this January: ‘Young men learn boundaries in well-prepared schools’. Written by secondary school teacher Emily Hehir, it discusses the gender discrimination she has experienced from male students, and the wider social implications of such behaviour. It raises pertinent questions about respect and authority by describing situations that will be familiar to both teachers and students.

The activities and guiding questions in the download below include exercises in language and argument analysis, inspiration for Context writing and the foundation for Year 10 activities exploring the intersection between gender bias, language and power. If it is used as the basis for a language analysis task, this piece is likely to generate vigorous debate and, in turn, offer a timely chance to remind your class that the purpose of a language analysis essay is to not engage with a writer’s argument, but to analyse their language use. More than just an exercise in building those important analytical skills, the article provides an interesting springboard for discussions about mutual understanding and respect between teachers and students in all school settings.

Scroll down for a concise content breakdown that will help you to assess if this resource is right for your school context or class, and for a free downloadable PDF of activities, guiding questions and writing tasks for you to use as inspiration or a starting point. (If you’re an early-career teacher or new to your school, however, taking this article into class immediately may be a bit of a risk, so perhaps wait a few weeks to see how the climate develops first.)

Best wishes and happy teaching!

Sandra Duncanson
Senior Editor

The resource

Young men learn boundaries in well-prepared schools’, by Emily Hehir, The Age, 7 January 2016.
Form: Opinion piece
Length: 1000 words (approx.)
Author information: Emily Hehir is a Victorian secondary school teacher.

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Download includes content for:

  • Year 12: Context, Whose reality?
  • Years 11 and 12: Argument and language analysis
  • Year 10: 
    • Understand how language can have inclusive and exclusive social effects and can empower and disempower people (ACELA1564)
    • Evaluate the impact on audiences of different choices in the representation of still and moving images (ACELA1572)
    • Analyse and evaluate how people, cultures, places, events, objects and concepts are represented in texts, including media texts, through language, structural and/or visual choices (ACELY1749)
    • Identify and analyse implicit or explicit values, beliefs and assumptions in texts and how these are influenced by purposes and likely audiences (ACELY1752).

Suitability and relevance

Central ideas

  • Young female teachers experience discrimination and harassment from male students (including inappropriate comments, sexual objectification and disrespect), which diminishes their authority and confidence
  • Women who complain about such behaviours are not overreacting
  • Teachers need support to combat gender discrimination as a path to building greater gender respect in society.

Cross references: ‘Know where the line is’ strategy by Elizabeth Broderick (former Sexual Discrimination Commissioner); cricketer Chris Gayle’s comments to a female sports reporter; personal anecdotes from the writer’s teaching career

Visual components: photograph: classroom, co-ed, junior secondary with female teacher; cartoon: female teacher, board with ABC equivalents in binary code

Content warnings: references to sexual objectification of teachers by students, one quoted use of the word ‘bitch’

Additional elements: comments section following the article

Additional resources

Last updated: 2 February 2016
© Insight Publications 2016

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