Can we stop Karen?

Photo by Olga Lioncat on Pexels.com

If I see one more video or post with the title “‘Karen’ does _____”, I might go crazy. Don’t get me wrong, bad public behavior occasionally needs to be called out, but “Karen” is not the way. “Karen” and its variations are sexist and controlling.

In case you’ve not been paying attention to trends, “Karen” is a title placed on people (usually white women of middle age) who behave badly in public space. The title is accompanied by a photo or video and shared on social media and sometimes junk “news” websites. There is no standard for what makes a person a “Karen” beyond bad public behavior.

The main problem with “Karen” is that it targets women in public space. Women are already judged, harassed, belittled in public space through catcalling, stalking, etc… To be woman and in public is dangerous to our health and safety. Adding an element of public shaming, which is what “Karen” is, just makes it even more dangerous.

Additionally, social media makes it easy to share images and video in virtual form (Twitter has a popular Karen hashtag). These women don’t give permission to have their picture taken, but it’s taken and shared nonetheless. This act could violate state law, or at the very least the sense of common good which teaches to respect another persons body and image.

“Karen” targets WOMEN. Louder for those in the back: “KAREN” TARGETS WOMEN. You can make the claim that there is a male equivalent, but there is not. Men aren’t being called out in the media (or social media). WOMEN are.

Additionally, there is a low bar for what behavior is acceptable in public. One person was shamed for wanting mustard and mayo on her fries. Seriously?!? Yes, how dare she want condiments on her fries. Or maybe the problem was that she was eating in the first place. Another was shamed for looking at pictures on her phone at a concert. When people start to police and “Karen” (or share in a permanent way) others behavior, we start to devolve as a society. We need to feel safe and able to exist in public space… it is after all- PUBLIC.

So, please stop “Karen”. It’s not safe and sexist. Will we make the Karens wear scarlet letters next?

The Bunny Chronicles

A small, but long-term project that I’ve undertaken is the story of Baby Bunny. I want to write and draw stories about Bunny as he goes on his adventures. Thus, the creation of The Bunny Chronicles.

Bunny becomes an astronaut

Why?

I like to write and draw. I will openly admit, I am not the greatest at drawing. But these activities are fun for me. Also, The Bunny Chronicles is a way to create a connection with my son, whom we call “Bunny” in public and before birth.

There are a lot of stories out there aimed at children of all ages. Some stories are great, some are good, and a lot are bad. I take issue with the message or language presented in some of these stories– most recently “Never Touch a Dragon”.

In the book, these poor dragons are abandoned, sold, etc.. for being natural (they are dragons, and that’s okay). Instead of subtly teaching about consent (as “Never Touch a Shark” does), the book teaches bad morals.

I want Bunny to know what is okay and what is not. I, also, want to entertain Bunny. I want Bunny to believe anything is possible through cooperation and inquisitiveness. I want Bunny to become a strong, considerate human being.

What’s the plan?

I like to plan, though they often go awry. As of now, I plan to upload more portions of The Bunny Chronicles every two months.

Teaching: College vs. High School

Having taught in both the college and high school settings, I thought I would share some insight on the major differences. I’ve talked to people who don’t understand the differences between the settings as they have only worked in one or the other.

First, teaching in the college setting is comparable to a loose handshake. Friendly, community-focused (getting to know those around you), collaborative. You exist to build a sense of belonging within the community at large– through research, service work, or excellent teaching.

Colleges provide all the resources you could possibly want or envision to support your goals. If you can justify the expense with data or student need, you will probably receive your request. You may have to wait until next budget year, but you will get what you need to teach, research, serve, etc…

Of course, there are still standards you must meet in the design and teaching of your courses. But the standards are often vague, and how you meet them is up to you (the content expert).

Finally, in the college setting my salary was $52,000 per year (non-tenure track instructor).

High School

High school is having nothing and losing hope quickly. There is a lot of burnout and turnover for teachers. In the high school setting, this national trend makes sense. I am expected to spin gold from straw.

One major lack is in the positive attitude of students and teachers alike. Beginning elementary students are happy and excited to go to school. My nephew would smile when talking about the upcoming school year. By high school, students are burnout or tired. Most don’t want to be here. If they do want to be here, it’s not for the purpose of learning. They want to see their friends, get away from home… always something else. Something happens between their educational start and high school… something not so great.

I lack resources to be a more effective teacher. I have a SmartBoard in my room but can’t use it for lack of a cord (that somehow will cost $1000!?!). Copy paper is kept locked in the head teacher’s room, and I must disrupt her class to ask for it if the copy machine runs out. These barriers become exhaustive to navigate and expensive.

I’ve written about it before, but teachers are expected to meet these costs and they add up. I know there exists better, more efficient ways to meet my teaching goals, but can’t access or afford them.

We are also fighting social trends that actively harm our environment and teaching. Specifically, TikTok trends encourage stealing/vandalism of teacher bought materials (computer gear) or the physical space itself. The bathrooms are constantly being locked and repaired due to TikTok vandalism.

In high school, standards (and teaching to them) are KING. We are given weekly lesson plans to follow; deviation is discouraged. We are not to act as content experts. I could walk into the social studies class and probably still know what I was expected to teach.

Another interesting trend, there is no or very little homework assigned to students, even to Juniors and Seniors. Students are not learning time management, self-management, or study skills as they are not explicitly taught. There is no time given the strict lessons provided to teachers (or testing time).

In the high school setting, my salary is $46,000 per year.

The Harm of “Service” in Education

Teaching requires service and sacrifice. If you’re in the field of education, especially if you are a teacher, you will at some point be thanked for your sacrifice. It is always said with a sad, but we’ll meaning smile– one that seems to say “better you than me”. People, within and outside the field, don’t understand the harm this language poses to those in the profession.

There is a harm of “service/sacrifice” language tied to discussions of professions, especially female dominated professions like teaching. Sacrifice language devalues the scope and effort put into work that should rightfully be compensated. When tied to a female dominated profession, such language becomes another mechanism to fight against for equal or better pay.

(And yes, the gender wage gap is a thing. A well-documented thing).

Additionally, the language increases a sense of obligation or duty placed on the employee. “Thank you for your service” implies that you do the work, and will continue to do so. You can’t say no.

But the (often significant) time involved in this service doesn’t help your career. Service is often not a component for evaluation or promotion at many levels of education.

Higher education is the notable exception. While colleges/universities have service as a tenure component, the scope of the required service is not explained. And not all jobs are created equal. Certain jobs/duties carry hidden prestige, while others are just time eaters.

However, you can’t say no. Refusing service, even time-consuming service, means you will not be offered service or duties later. You are viewed as a non-team player.

But we must make a stand against unpaid, unrecognized work.

Just say no to service. We deserve to be paid.

Top 10 Teaching Resources

Let’s face it: there are way too many English, writing, and literature resources out there! (Of which, this may be one– humor, yo!). I’ve made a list here of resources that I use for English news, writing hints, and literature tips.

These are the best resources.

1


Purdue OWL

English is a living language– that means it changes. Purdue OWL is the best website for citation style help (both MLA and APA). There is other information as well, but the citation guide is strongest.

2


Crash Course

This video series on YouTube has the best basic information on a variety of topics. I use the literature guides as an additional resource for my students when reading novels.

3


UNC Chapel Hill

The strength of the UNC Chapel Hill website is its in-depth grammar and English usage guide. The website explains the nitty-gritty of the English language– the how and when of English usage.

4


Inside HigherEd

It is vital to keep up-to-date of the latest news, laws, and movements. Inside HigherEd not only has current reporting, but also has interesting perspectives in the OpEd section.

Other Cool Resources

  • Quality Matters- offers certification and training in online teaching
  • Thug Notes- funny YouTube analysis of popular novels and stories
  • Creative Commons- usable resources like photos, audio, etc.. with no or little copyright restrictions
  • CommonLit- texts and questions grouped by theme, grade, or Lexile Level
  • OER Commons- whole courses or textbooks with no or little copyright restrictions
  • Canva- website for the creation of memes, classroom posters, anything..
Image made using Canva resources

Bonus! Resources to avoid:

  • Scholarly journals- journal articles are often too nuanced and time-consuming for busy teachers to read regularly. I suggest reading journals when you have free time or are especially interested in the topic

15 Phrases to Use One Day.

There are many cool phrases that I see on the internet or hear from my students. I want to one day use these in some of my creative writing. Here are 15 of my current favorite phrases/prompts:

  1. “You’re not going to survive this war.” “If I was worried about that, I’d have brought it up months ago.”
  2. “I’m going to bring you in on this conversation.” “Do you have to?”
  3. “Ignoring everyone in the room is my favorite part of this tradition”
  4. “Please, don’t, I have a kid!” “Why should I care if you’ve reproduced?”
  5. “You’re changing.” “So is the rest of the world.”
  6. “It runs in the family.” “Well, this is where it runs out.”
  7. “Mother.” “Disgrace.”
  8. “I am the Queen.” “And yet, you’re still not enough.”
  9. When I imagined her coming down the aisle, I didn’t imagine her in a casket.
  10. No one cared who I was until I put on the mask.
  11. I panicked and told them I was proficient in blood magic, not expecting to get the job.
  12. The ladies of the house were versed in all the fine arts: music, dance, flower arranging, and necromancy.
  13. The official story is we’ve got a rat problem, okay?
  14. Fight me, you ceramic bitch
  15. Holy mother of rectangles