Tuesday, October 17, 2006

How women and men interact is important. And I don't mean that feminist theory is important--even though it is. I mean that the ways actual people treat each other matters, and that how women and men treat each other is an interesting thing to write about and make art about. This is very obvious.

I was subtly accused in class the other day of only being able to remember the men's names. I freaked out for a moment because I thought it was true, but this morning I realized that I also learned the names of many of the women quickly--the ones who spoke a lot during the first few weeks of class. If you spoke a lot during the first several weeks of class, or came to my office, then I learned your name quickly. But I am very very bad with names. And dates. And numbers. I have to write everything down. I usually need a combined visual and aural queue to remember something. Repetition and memorization rarely work for me. I need something to associate whatever I'm trying to remember with. Speech. Gesture. Something. But now I'll remember.

The class is going very well. I already know what I will do differently if I get to teach it again in this context, but overall I'm very pleased. The class is an intelligent group of students who get along well with each other and pay attention.


Jessica Smith said...

i can usually only remember my female students' names. there is such a cultural emphasis, it seems to me, on boys looking alike. similar haircuts, shapeless Old Navy clothing... and short uninteresting boy-names. it is easier for me to remember Aimie with her awesome pink ballet flats, etc. than Dan with his baseball cap and free t-shirt. i learn names quickly, but the boys come slowest.

K. Lorraine Graham said...

I'm probably more verbal than visual, but I just need something associative to help me remember. Something you said, a hobby, cool shoes (now that I think of it, I did learn the names of the women who have more distinct styles), etc. I often will remember in very specific detail what a student wrote about for the last two papers, or the fact that their family lives in Missouri, etc, but not...their...name. I need a new technique. What if I had 50+ students in a class that is supposed to be discussion-based, like Mark?

I met another teacher in the department who says that she takes pictures of all the students on the first day of class, and then makes flash cards with their names. Maybe I should do this. Maybe this would help me develop my ability to pay attention to visual details. Usually sight is an over developed sense, though, so I don't know.

I think this is on my mind especially because as an undergraduate, I was not of the women wearing unique clothes (jeans and sweater or sweats if I was coming from dance class), and in many contexts I didn't speak much, either.

Jessica Smith said...

UVA has an interesting-- if somewhat problematic (privacy issues?)-- practice of appending student photographs to class lists. So when I print out my roster, it comes along with their little student ID pics. This meant that I knew many of my students' names before having ever met them. I must say, that really really helps.

Another thing that I find useful, though it's completely silly and makes the kids uncomfortable, is having them draw pictures of themselves on the first day of class. they don't have to be artistically talented, but they can't just draw a stick figure. knowing that i'm the only person that will see these alleviates their anxieties about their artistic talents, which somehow almost all of them always have (when were kids told they "couldn't draw"?)

then you get fun diagrams explaining the pictures, like, "i always wear my hair up" or "i'm always loaded down with bags because i come straight from dance" or whatever.

then you've also violated them a little--making them trust you enough to draw pictures of themselves, which they don't want to do--which makes them trust you a little.