Strippers and Wives as Helpful Metaphor in Academia

This has just been forwarded to me. It’s from an internal talk at a British university, designed to somehow help staff. I’m still picking my jaw up off the floor.

Wives, strippers, professional services: using experiential
pedagogy, cultural studies, and institutional metaphor.

Placed in a context of pedagogical and educational development and higher education institutional management theory, the film The Full Monty offers a way into understanding the relationship and possible potentials of professional services staff in the university. Using a cultural studies and experiential learning approach, how does the metaphor of strippers and wives help understand the ways in which professional services staff can engage with both academic staff and students? What do professional services staff ‘do’ in universities?

One can as easily begin by asking the question what wives and strippers do? What is the purpose of pursuing this type of inquiry in the first place? Come to the paper, find out the reasoning behind this and give your own opinions. The discussion will focus on typologies and approaches to professionalization of administrative/educational development approaches (rather than focussing on a discussion of gender/sexuality in university hierarchies). This will be placed in the context for academic staff to move away from styles of teaching which transfer knowledge to those which engage with students collaboratively and encourage the learning process; what then is the parallel process and shift for professional services staff?

I’m not sure which is my favourite bit. Maybe the line about not being about gender and sexuality. But overall it’s got to be the general thought that considering what strippers– and wives!– do will help lecturers to develop a new teaching style. And help us to understand what professional services staff do in universities. Wow.

“Go, Tell Michelle”

Go, Tell Michelle: African American Women Write to the New First Lady, will be released  on Jan 15th.  You can pre-order if from the publisher’s web-site here.  This site also takes you to the great npr story on the book, which sent me off on a web search for it.  It’s a book to watch for – for many reasons, but one is that you get more of an insight into voices that one can recognize, but which carry  a perspective shaped by experiences and traditions that may not be one’s  own. 

One thing one can start to feel is the magnitude of the importance of Michelle’s presence as first lady.  One poem read on npr, if my memory is correct, has a passage about the great women of the civil rights movement and ends with “we have been waiting for you, Michelle.”

From a poem on npr’s site:

To thank you is to acknowledge all of our history’s greatest
Great-grandmothers, grandmothers, mothers, aunts,
sisters, cousins, nieces, and friends.
As Afrikan womyn,
our heritage and pride never ends.
Our legacy is to know that we never walk alone
and our tradition is to defy being destroyed.
We have come so far
and endured so much
for so long.
when your shoulders are weary
and your back is resistant from the perseverance of
the mission and the movement to remain standing —
lean on me.
i am here.
The power of God is within us,
and the universe awaits . . .
“It once was. It is so. It shall be.”
(by Vonetta T. Rhodes )

According to the npr site,  “the poems and letters were compiled by two education specialists, Barbara Seals Nevergold and Peggy Brooks-Bertram, who are co-founders of the Uncrowned Queens Institute for Research and Education on Women at the University at Buffalo in New York.”

The Uncrowned Queen’s Institute deserves a separate post, but you can find out about it here.

Women and the Economic Recovery Plan

This is one of those times I slap my forehead and can’t believe I didn’t notice something. Linda Hirshman points out that Obama’s economic recovery plan as currently formulated is very much oriented toward traditionally male jobs.

BARACK OBAMA has announced a plan to stimulate the economy by creating 2.5 million jobs over the next two years. He intends to use the opportunity to make good on two campaign promises — to invest in road and bridge maintenance and school repair and to create jobs that reduce energy use and emissions that lead to global warming…The bulk of the stimulus program will provide jobs for men, because building projects generate jobs in construction, where women make up only 9 percent of the work force.

It turns out that green jobs are almost entirely male as well, especially in the alternative energy area. A broad study by the United States Conference of Mayors found that half the projected new jobs in any green area are in engineering, a field that is only 12 percent female, or in the heavily male professions of law and consulting; the rest are in such traditional male areas as manufacturing, agriculture and forestry. And like companies that build roads, alternative energy firms also employ construction workers and engineers.

Fortunately, jobs for women can be created by concentrating on professions that build the most important infrastructure — human capital. In 2007, women were 83 percent of social workers, 94 percent of child care workers, 74 percent of education, training and library workers (including 98 percent of preschool and kindergarten teachers and 92 percent of teachers’ assistants)…

A public works program can provide needed economic stimulus and revive America’s concern for public property. The current proposal is simply too narrow. Women represent almost half the work force — not exactly a marginal special interest group. By adding a program for jobs in libraries, schools and children’s programs, the new administration can create jobs for them, too.

And now there’s a petition urging Obama to follow Hirshman’s recommendation. Go sign it!