Monday, April 25, 2016

No "safe spaces" for men?

Feminists are very righteous about providing "safe spaces" for women only and lots of universities now have such places.  But if we can have women-only places why not men-only places?

The motivation for such unjust arrangements is truly weird.  They want women to get closer to men because that will reduce sexual harassment?  How improbable can you get?

It's just feminist hate.  They want to take away from men a facility they enjoy.  Freud would probably call it "penis envy"

HARVARD SEEMS poised to take a major step toward cracking down on sexual assaults on its undergraduate campus by forcing its all-male social clubs to admit women. That’s a big deal at the tradition-bound Ivy League school, and the fact that Harvard is taking action now is as strong a sign as any that the nationwide push to reduce campus sexual assaults is translating into substantive improvement at even the most change-resistant of colleges.

Fraternities may not be a problem at every college, but their equivalent institutions at Harvard certainly are. The college’s so-called “final clubs,” which are mainstays of campus social life but generally admit only men as members, have been an embarrassment for decades. Now a campus task force has confirmed that they aggravate unhealthy gender dynamics, and contribute to an atmosphere that makes sexual assault more likely.

The fact that Harvard is finally addressing a problem that has existed since the college went co-ed — and which its administrators once claimed they had no power to change, because the college does not control the clubs — is visible proof that the Obama administration’s demands that colleges do more to uproot sexual assault is forcing them to confront sacred cows. The final clubs have alumni, and the alumni have money, but Harvard is acting anyway.

The college’s dean, Rakesh Khurana, is reportedly considering disciplining students who join the clubs, which has produced a panicked reaction from their defenders. Club members say that students should have the right to free association, but free association at a private college doesn’t entail a right to participate in organizations that have been shown to endanger classmates.

It helps that the organizations — exclusionary clubs dressed up as pillars of tradition — have shown themselves to be deeply unsympathetic. That much was clear when Harpoon beer president Charles M. Storey, an alumnus of one of the clubs, waded into the controversy with a tin-eared defense of excluding women. If clubs were forced to admit women, he said, it might actually increase the odds of sexual assault — logic that would seem to suggest that women should have to lose opportunities simply because some men can’t restrain themselves. Though he quickly apologized, Storey damaged his own reputation, that of his club, and that of his company.

Storey’s not the first Harvard graduate to suffer from his association with the final clubs; recall how Governor Deval Patrick had to face questions about his membership in a different club after it proved an embarrassment during the 2006 campaign. It would be nice if the social and professional consequences of belonging to such backwards groups made enough Harvard men think twice about joining them so that they faded away on their own.

Until then, though, the college has a responsibility to do everything it can to force them to integrate — or disappear. Harvard isn’t the first to confront the problem posed by all-male groups on campus, and it shouldn’t be the last.


Home schooling can be a lot of work

Probably not for most single mothers

Every morning, as Sara Hanley drops off her three children at the gates of their village primary school in Oxfordshire, she performs the same ritual.

A loving kiss for each of them - Lucy, 11, Max, nine, and Korben, six - a quick wave goodbye and then, as she turns on her heel, she exhales a deep sigh of relief. Many parents do the same, but Sara has more reason than most to be thankful to see the school gates closing behind her brood.

In July 2014, like many middle-class mothers, she made the fateful decision to remove her children from school and educate them herself at home. It was a bold and drastic - some might even say foolhardy - decision, yet it's one many desperate parents will be seriously contemplating this week as thousands of children across the country miss out on their preferred school places.

Many will opt out due to perceived falling educational standards or concerns about bullying.

Yet whatever the motivation, home-educating is something that Sara, an articulate, capable and highly motivated 31-year-old, would advise parents to think very carefully about.

It was, she says, a decision that put her under enormous strain and pushed her relationship with her children to the brink.

Confined to the kitchen table at their three- bedroom home, day after day, trying to motivate three bored and bickering youngsters, all of them were soon struggling - the children, academically and socially (they missed their friends), while Sara started comfort eating through stress and gained two stone in weight. She was left 'a shell of my former self, with no bounce or sparkle'.

Sara, who is separated from her children's father, shudders as she remembers those difficult days. 'I was under no illusions that home educating would be extremely challenging, but I wasn't prepared for just how punishing being teacher, as well as Mummy, would be. It sapped everything from me.'

Her decision to home school wasn't a knee-jerk one. After Lucy was bullied, she began to consider her options. After months of research, plus the approval of her husband, she decided to take the plunge.

'I wanted to give them a more relaxed, natural and playful education, rather than condemning them to the national curriculum obsession with exams from a young age,' she says.

Not surprisingly, some of her friends thought she was bonkers. 'Some reeled off the reasons why I would fail. Another told me 'Your children will grow up to hate you', which I found very upsetting.'

Undeterred, shortly before the end of the 2014 summer term, her children bid farewell to their primary school.

Sara threw herself into it. She admits she 'lived and breathed home schooling'. And an education welfare officer who visited her at home was 'impressed' with the lesson plans she had in place.

Initially, it was the idyllic experience Sara hoped for. On warm days they'd explore local woodland with her children and there were memorable trips to educational and science centres.

'But I quickly discovered that it's impossible to continually repeat days like that due to the cost. The daily need for enthusiasm and ideas began to wear me down,' she says.

'I'd spend evenings marking their work and planning the next day's lessons or activities, which was exhausting. With three young children, I didn't have a bountiful social life anyway, but being a home schooler certainly didn't help matters.

I gained weight and stopped taking pride in my appearance. The most stressful moments were when the children's father would come home from work - we were still together at the time - and pick holes in everything.

If the house was untidy because I'd been teaching the children at home that day, he'd complain. But if it was immaculate, he'd question whether I'd done anything with them.

'Frequently, one child would be interested and two would be bored. The age difference between them was an issue, too, as it was very difficult to tailor the lessons to suit all their needs.'

Sara describes her own eight GCSEs and an art and design qualification as 'basic'. 'I suffered from terrible self-doubt, too - were the things I was teaching them even correct? They'd ask me questions and I'd have to Google the answers.

'I realised what skill being a professional teacher requires and how much time goes into it.'

By early 2015, Lucy was falling behind in maths and spelling, Max desperately missed his school friends and squabbled with Korben constantly.

'I began to worry what the hell I'd do when Lucy needed to study for her GCSEs, which home-educated children sit by registering directly with the local examining board.'

Eventually, Sara admitted defeat, in part because she needed to work more hours as a private nanny to contribute to the family coffers - and she says she will be forever grateful to her children's old school for managing to squeeze her children in again when she pleaded for their help last May.

All three are thriving. As is Sara.

Yet, the recent figures show there has been a 65 per cent increase in home-educated children in the past six years, with 37,000 taught by their parents.

There is no legal obligation for parents to send their children to school, but it is their responsibility to ensure they get a 'suitable education' at home should they opt out.

While a significant number choose to go it alone due to factors such as bullying, research shows more than 3 per cent of home-educating parents do so because they couldn't get their child into their preferred school.

Home education expert Dr Helen Lees, of Newman University, Birmingham, warns: 'It is not a quick fix and it takes time for a family to 'grow into' as it's a vastly different educational world.

'Typically, home education will fail if the parents are not well enough informed, don't connect with other home educators and their children, and don't get out to libraries, museums and sports centres.'

Despite the stress of it all, Sara says there were a few positives from the experience - most importantly that her daughter's problems with bullying came to an end. But the long-term effects of the lost year still reverberate among the children.

'While Lucy has made some lovely new friends, she is still behind in several subjects, including maths,' says Sara.

'Max can be lazy, but hates the idea of ever being home educated again because he was so bored and missed his friends dreadfully, so he applies himself at school. Korben has blossomed into a smart little boy who's excelling in maths.

'I have a new respect for teachers and the skill and time it takes to deliver effective lessons.'


British teachers are accused of brainwashing children with politically correct lessons on attitudes to homosexuality --  with union chiefs warning it is leading to 'difficult situations' in schools

Parents are sending angry messages to teachers online accusing them of 'brainwashing' their children with discussion of homosexuality, it has been claimed.

The National Association of Head Teachers said its members have received 'unacceptable emails and posts on social media' after talking about the topic in class.

The union, which represents 28,500 school leaders, said it welcomed 'legitimate' objections but warned some parents had taken it too far by going on Facebook and Twitter.

Many parents still object to their children taking part in some aspects of sex and relationships education until they reach a certain age.

It came as teachers renewed their call to make personal, social, health and economics education (PSHE) compulsory in schools.

Headteachers argue the move would protect them from threats from parents who object to being taught what they deem as 'controversial' topics at school.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT, said: 'We don't think you need to make it statutory to make teachers do it, you need to make it statutory to protect teachers when they do it, otherwise they're vulnerable to accusations that they are pursuing a personal agenda.

'We've seen really difficult situations where parents who disagree with the philosophies that are being promoted saying 'you're doing this, you're brainwashing our children'.'

He said parents are accusing teachers of teaching 'controversial' topics to their children and parents are threatening to withdraw pupils from lessons as a result.

He said: 'If you deal with topics related to homosexuality in a lesson, and a parent from whatever background might disagree with that and say 'I don't want my children taught about these issues'.  'They have accused schools and teachers of doing that sort of thing.

'These are controversial topics which our society doesn't wholly agree on and teachers have to be quite brave sometimes in doing that and we should have their back when they do that and don't leave them to have challenges.'

Mr Hobby said that apart from aggressive threats, parents are emailing teachers to pressure them to stop teaching certain topics in sexual education classes.

He said: 'Children learn best when there's a strong bond between the home and the school. This bond can sometimes be strained, particularly when schools want to educate children on contentious issues.

'Technology has allowed these objections to be expressed in many new ways, including emails and social media.

'Legitimate objections from parents are fair enough and easily addressed but the strength of feeling sometimes means school leaders have to deal with unacceptable emails and posts on social media.'


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