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Teacher Gives ‘Chivalry’ History Lesson, Assigns Students To Follow Outdated Sexist ‘Chivalric’ Rules For A Day
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People, Social Issues1 year ago

Teacher Gives ‘Chivalry’ History Lesson, Assigns Students To Follow Outdated Sexist ‘Chivalric’ Rules For A Day

Assignments come in various shapes and sizes. And while reading and watching is a great way to learn, there are others with a more hands-on approach that you learn better by doing.

Well, one very hands-on assignment has been making headlines on the internet recently. Turns out, a class in this one Texas school was assigned to live out a set of chivalric rules for one full day, and it caused a bit of a stir among a number of people.

While learning through reading and watching is great, learning by doing seems best

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So, an English teacher at the Shallowater High School in northwest Texas gave an assignment whereby senior students were given a list of Rules of Chivalry to follow for one day. The aim of this assignment was to show how women were treated as inferiors under this medieval code.

The assignment functioned as a checklist of the things that each student had to perform in line with the Code of Chivalry and then an adult witness had to put a signature next to the objective to prove that it actually happened. Objectives differed between the guys and girls.

And this one hands-on assignment—where students had to act out chivalric virtues—had everyone talking

In the guys’ list, people could find things like assisting ladies to seat themselves or rise from their seats, standing up whenever a lady comes into the room, and paying for them if taking them out for the evening.

Likewise, the ladies also got a list that included things like dressing in a feminine way that would “please the men,” walking behind men, never criticizing them, and cleaning up after their men. And many people were not cool with how sexist this assignment has turned out.

Students at a Texas school were given an assignment to live under the rules of chivalry for one full day

Image credits: BrandiDAddison

“I really don’t think it was the teacher’s intention to have it be such a sexist lesson,” said Hannah Carreon, one of the seniors in the school. “There were girls that were excited to get to do this finally and get to dress up.”

But there were many who did feel very uncomfortable with it, and the teacher knew that it might get some flak, so she also allowed students to write a one-page essay on the topic instead.

Apparently, this assignment was an annual thing, and in previous years, the teacher would also hand out written disclaimers to parents and teachers explaining the project and its purposes.

The problem was that many found it sexist and were thus uncomfortable with it

Image credits: BrandiDAddison

Though the assignment had always been viewed negatively, causing controversy, it was this year that it actually caused serious backlash with a number of parents complaining how the topic of sexism in history could be taught in significantly better ways than this. The assignment was thus cancelled.

But it didn’t end here. A picture of the assignment was posted online and began circulating among a number of parent groups, where journalist Brandi D. Addison Davis stumbled upon it. She shared it on her Twitter, leading to even more criticism of the school.

The boys got a rule list too, which didn’t look as bad as the female version

Image credits: BrandiDAddison

As you’d guess, many online were angry about this, calling the assignment wrong and horrific. Some said that role play is a good tool for teaching, sure, but this particular assignment ran the risk of reinforcing the wrong things, and there are many other ways these historical lessons can be taught.

Others suggested that it could have turned out to be an OK assignment if the roles were reversed the next day, giving a chance for both sides to act out the Rules of Chivalry.

Though the assignment is now cancelled, it still found itself on the internet where people weren’t happy about it

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Yet others were in support of this idea, saying that they don’t see the big deal with this—everyone got to participate in history as it was, and everyone is aware of what the right thing is.

Anita Herbert, school district superintendent, addressed the backlash, saying that the assignment was reviewed and despite the historical context, it did not reflect the values of the district and the community.

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Though many were against this, others didn’t see a problem with it

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What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comment section below!

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Stille20
Community Member
1 year ago

For all those comments that said it's how they learn history.... if it is that innocent, then assign the boys to fulfill the role of the women and vise versa. Everyone still learns.

juice
Community Member
1 year ago

i actually think that could be a really good assignment. on day one, do the "stereotypical" gender roles and have students follow those rules. on day two, switch it. then see how the students feel about the fairness of each set of rules.

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Easily Excitable Panda
Community Member
1 year ago

Professional historian (Tudor-era England) weighing in here. These assignments don't actually reflect behavior in the middle ages, and mix up upper-class and lower-class roles. For instance, only servants walked behind or with heads constantly bowed, and ladies were under no obligation to bring food or drink to "their" men. Again, that's a servant's job. Ladies sewed, embroidered, or engaged in "delicate" tasks. Food service was NOT among those. Clothing and behavior was strictly regulated. None of this "pleasing to the men" stuff. I don't know where the teacher got the "rules" for this assignment, but it wasn't from historical sources. Sounds more like TV, honestly. I'm a Texan, btw. As for "this is what history was like," when I was in school, my teacher held a slave auction where yes, the black kids were auctioned off. There's no place for this in education, especially since all it does is serve to humiliate everyone except for those in power.

Ivy Ruonakoski
Community Member
1 year ago

What struck me most was the "walk daintily like your feet were bound". That practise wasn't used in Europe, or am I wrong?

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TTorrest Author
Community Member
1 year ago

My high school did this back in 1990. But only the men-being-chivalrous-toward-women part. Some of the guys couldn't be bothered, but one kid went above and beyond. He was a shy kid, and the assignment allowed him to shine. He had LOTS of girls crushing on him after that LOL.

Night Owl
Community Member
1 year ago

I imagine he became a successful actor :D

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Stille20
Community Member
1 year ago

For all those comments that said it's how they learn history.... if it is that innocent, then assign the boys to fulfill the role of the women and vise versa. Everyone still learns.

juice
Community Member
1 year ago

i actually think that could be a really good assignment. on day one, do the "stereotypical" gender roles and have students follow those rules. on day two, switch it. then see how the students feel about the fairness of each set of rules.

Load More Replies...
Easily Excitable Panda
Community Member
1 year ago

Professional historian (Tudor-era England) weighing in here. These assignments don't actually reflect behavior in the middle ages, and mix up upper-class and lower-class roles. For instance, only servants walked behind or with heads constantly bowed, and ladies were under no obligation to bring food or drink to "their" men. Again, that's a servant's job. Ladies sewed, embroidered, or engaged in "delicate" tasks. Food service was NOT among those. Clothing and behavior was strictly regulated. None of this "pleasing to the men" stuff. I don't know where the teacher got the "rules" for this assignment, but it wasn't from historical sources. Sounds more like TV, honestly. I'm a Texan, btw. As for "this is what history was like," when I was in school, my teacher held a slave auction where yes, the black kids were auctioned off. There's no place for this in education, especially since all it does is serve to humiliate everyone except for those in power.

Ivy Ruonakoski
Community Member
1 year ago

What struck me most was the "walk daintily like your feet were bound". That practise wasn't used in Europe, or am I wrong?

Load More Replies...
TTorrest Author
Community Member
1 year ago

My high school did this back in 1990. But only the men-being-chivalrous-toward-women part. Some of the guys couldn't be bothered, but one kid went above and beyond. He was a shy kid, and the assignment allowed him to shine. He had LOTS of girls crushing on him after that LOL.

Night Owl
Community Member
1 year ago

I imagine he became a successful actor :D

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