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Monday, June 27, 2022

A classroom in Vallecas rebels against textbooks that silence women

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Many generations of students in Spain have accepted it as the most normal thing in the world for man to be the absolute protagonist of their science, history or literary books. But that seems to be changing. A few weeks ago, a class at an institute in Vallecas, Madrid, rebelled against one of his manuals.

The ringleader was a 16-year-old boy who interrupted teacher Julia Olmedo as she was giving a lesson about the generation of 27. On a slide prepared by the teacher was a photo of this group of writers no hat, along with their names, their works and their awards. The student was surprised because only one other image appeared in the book, the collective photo of some of the characters of this group of artists in the tribute to Góngora in Seville. It is one of the most famous snapshots in Spanish literature, 10 men and no women. This annoys the student.

—Professor, why aren’t these authors in the book if they are so important?—.

Many teachers still ask this question. We don’t know why they don’t include them.

McGraw Hill’s book on Spanish language and literature doesn’t contain a single word about it no hat Nor does it say anything significant about writers from other periods of Spanish literature. It was not the first time that this fourth year ESO class at Institut Tirso de Molina de Vallecas spoke about the lack of visibility of women in textbooks. In geography and history, the students had already noticed that they had read a story of kings and conquerors with hardly any female presence. In biology and geology they were doing a project on women scientists and had to search the internet for information. But this incomplete photo of the 27-year-old generation was the final straw.

An ESO 4th year student at the Institut Tirso de Molina in Vallecas underscores the list of male authors of the Generation of 27 that appears in the textbook.


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Several students joined the protest. The book features only photos by male authors. Carmen Laforet, winner of the first Nadal Prize in 1944, is mentioned in passing in a box in the margin of the main text. “The outrage grew,” Olmedo recalled weeks later. The students asked to do something and the teacher suggested writing a letter to Education Minister Pilar Alegría and Gender Equality Minister Irene Montero. The teacher wrote the letter and they launched ideas from their desks while reading the text projected on the screen. Olmedo began: “The ESO C students of the 4th year of the Institut Tirso de Molina in Madrid write to you…”.

“No, teacher! Students and students,” they interrupted her.

The letter warns against the omission of the no hat and then continues: “We know you share our concern about the fight against gender inequality and we believe that the classroom is the best place to start the quest for justice. Education is the foundation of our society and unless we grow hand in hand with egalitarian foundations, we will be offered incomplete information.”

“We would therefore like to ask you for your cooperation and initiative, so that you do your best to ensure that women and men appear balanced in textbooks. We don’t want to wait for commemorations or theme days to do work on the role of women in science, history, philosophy, etc. We want to help shape a society where relevance to a place in history does not depend on gender.

They have not yet received an answer, but the Ministry for Equality replies to this newspaper that it considers it a valuable initiative: “It is a letter that makes us very proud as a country. There is much work to be done and there is relief.” A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Education said the letter could not be found. The authorities of both departments are aware that there is a strong societal need to make women visible, as evidenced by the campaigns on the platform on-line of protests Change.orgwho received more than 60,000 endorsements. one was thrown a year ago by a high school teacher who criticized that the 10 philosophers his students study at the EVAU are all men. Another who justified the forgotten artists was founded in 2020 by a prospective art history teacher.

According to the study, only 7.5% of the references that appeared in 115 books on 19 subjects mention women Analyzing the Absence of Women in ESO Handbooks: A Genealogy of Hidden Knowledge, by Ana López Navajas, with whom the Women’s Institute collaborates. Subjects such as physics and chemistry or social sciences have the fewest female references.

The change in the institutes should be reflected in the new curricula next year for ESO (12-16 years) Y Abitur (17 and 18 years), which were published in separate royal decrees on development this spring the Celaá law 2020. These regulations contain specific demands to end the historical neglect of the role of outstanding women. The publishers are in the process of revising their books to comply with both government regulations and developments in the Autonomous Community of Madrid, which has 40% responsibility for curriculum development.

The President of the Autonomous Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, has declared war on her these and other changes which he viewed as a product of “indoctrination” and encouraged educational centers to use the books prior to this reform. She has also appealed the state high school diploma decree to the Supreme Court. But it’s not clear his campaign is anything more than a media hype. It happened with the ESO Royal Decree, which was developed in May in a project for a regional decree of Madrid it includes the phrases “ecofeminism,” “ecosocial,” or “gender perspective,” which the Ayuso government promised to eliminate.

“Women’s Soccer”

Tirso de Molina’s 4th year ESO students do not seem to notice the details of this political struggle, but they are not unaffected by many situations in their lives where women are rendered invisible or banished. The students notice things that the older ones don’t notice. “Women’s football is always called that, but men’s football is football,” says a student in class, weeks after the rebellion against the literature handbook.

During a visit to this newspaper, they dedicated the hour of ethical values ​​to discussion and reflection on their joint action to send a letter to the heads of the Education and Equality Department. “Women like no hat They were successful then and the weight of the story crushed and cornered them. Not just her. We just mentioned Carmen Laforet, a Spanish writer during the Franco regime, who appears in a corner of the textbook in the other authors category. We had to try something to justify them,” explains one student.

“Inequality is learned indirectly everywhere,” adds another colleague. “Although your parents and teachers raise you with the right values, every show or movie teaches you the opposite. The protagonist is always a man. The woman has the role of the companion who is in love with him,” he laments.

Professor Olmedo, 34, says the women have not been found either. no hat during his college days, not even when he was studying Hispanic Studies a decade ago. It was later that this group of authors began to justify themselves. A documentary from 2015 He appreciates the work of these women, which in professional circles is in some cases superior to that of other male colleagues who appear in textbooks. Generation 27 men and women were very close, a fact that makes the silence about the female half of this group even more hurtful.

In recent years, the mentality of young people has changed significantly, says Olmedo. “The boy who started questioning the book has a complicated situation and that excites you more, but the fact is that the whole group agreed to the idea of ​​sending the letters,” he explains. This institute in Vallecano has a strong belief in tolerance and solidarity. During the 2021-2022 academic year, the teaching staff has developed an annual project, Equality, in which all students participate in order to promote equality and the integration of the more than 30 nationalities represented at the center in all courses. A large rainbow flag greets you in the lobby. El Tirso de Molina is classified as a Difficult Performing Center, suggesting there are a significant number of broken families or grant recipients in the area.

Sometimes these students clash with their parents’ traditional values. “They come home and comment, for example, that Margarita Manso, Luisa Carnés or Concha Méndez were just as important as Lorca or Alberti, but that they do not appear in the language book, that their photo exists and that they did not take it. ‘ he points out, a student. “Then your parents question what you say or even don’t believe you.”

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Source elpais.com

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