Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Days of Our Work Lives: An unvarnished look at work today. Part III: Adam's Saga. Episode 2: Turning Adam into a Monster?

Part III: Adam's Saga  

Episode 2
Turning Adam into a Monster?

In the previous episode, Adam tried ADHD medication and it really worked: He became more focused in school and less annoying to his classmates.

His typical response to the dinnertime question, "What did you do in school today?" also was quite normal. Most nights, he gave the stereotypical response: "Nothing." 

Susan and Ben knew not to settle for that, so they always followed with, "Come on. What did you do when you first got to school?" Marching Adam through his day often got to something interesting but this day it triggered something unprecedented: a bad argument between Susan and Ben.

Adam began it innocently enough. "Tomorrow it's my turn for show-and tell!  I'm so excited!"

Susan asked, "So what are you going to show?"

"I don't know. I'm just excited!"

Childhood often contains clues to what a person should do careerwise. For example, people fall on a continuum between terrified of public speaking and/or loving to show off. Adam's loving to show off could mean a career not just in performing but anywhere with an audience, for example, salespeople, trainers, and executives often talk before groups. Think back to your childhood. Does it offer clues as to what you should do?

Ben asked Adam, "How about we go out into the forest now and find some really gross thing to bring for show-and tell?"

"Yay!  I love it!"

Susan didn't love it.  "It's dark outside."

Adam said, "So what?!

Susan: "It's dangerous. There could be a bobcat or even a mountain lion."

Ben was incredulous: "You gotta be kidding?! The odds of us having fun is 100%. The odds of a mountain lion eating us is 0.0000000001%."

Susan said, "That's not the only reason."

"I figured."

"Ben, I think that when boys get into spiders, snakes, monsters, it makes them aggressive."

"You gotta be kidding."

"Ben, have you ever seen boys chase girls with spiders, snakes. It's aggressive, it's sadistic. Actually, it's sexist!"

"That's right, Susan, when someone disagrees with you, just play the sexist card." 

'It is sexist, Ben."

"Susan, that's just what teachers do: 90% of elementary school teachers are women and they adapt the curriculum to make it friendly to girls and nightmarish for boys. All the stories are about relationships; boys like adventure, heroism. Teachers make active boys sit for hours doing worksheets; girls love that. Active boys can't do that. There's lots of art when boys would rather play sports. There's endless insistence on cooperation when most boys would rather compete. There are countless stories of amazing women, usually putting a man in his place---Every see a TV show, a movie, a commercial where a man shows up a woman? And you don't see that in the school curriculum either. There's fastidious attention to women heroes from Sacajawea to Harriet Tubman to Sally Ride to Hillary Clinton and to men from Hannibal to Hitler, Joe McCarthy to Slobodan Milosevic."

Adam said, "Who?"

Susan said, "See?!"

"Susan, boys are constantly made to feel like the inferior sex. No wonder boys are falling further behind in school, not graduating from college, having a higher unemployment rate than women. You know the stereotype: Boy doesn't go to college or drops out and is back on his parents' sofa, playing video games or stoned or both. Today's schools are made for girls."

"So Ben, schools should pander to males' most base instinct?! That's why we have all the wars. Women aren't doing that."

"Without warriors, Hitler would have taken over the world.  And man's aggressiveness and bravery is responsible for countless accomplishments from firemen, yes mainly firemen, putting out fires to aggressively and bravely fighting convention to invent everything from electricity to the best treatment yet for breast cancer. Besides, you can't possibly believe that Adam going into the woods with me to find spiders and worms will make any kid, let alone sweet Adam, into a monster. How much do you want to quell Adam's natural maleness, huh? Huh, Susan?! Want to quell mine too?!"

Ben took Adam's arm. "Let's go. Let's go see if we can find a tarantula!" 


"Susan, don't take guy-fun away from us. And don't try to turn Adam into a girl!"

As the door slammed, Susan stared into the fire.

The next episode is HERE.

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