Teachers' Tales

My best lesson: Using Ariana Grande to challenge gender stereotypes


by Kellie Griffiths
on February 7, 2019

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At the start of last year, I started working at a new school and I was introduced to our fantastic RE lead. We are so lucky to have such an inspirational and innovative person in our team, who encourages and inspires you to think outside the box. As a result of her and the creative nature of the school, I started to think of ways I could engage my Year 6 class around a theme which is in the headlines at the moment – feminism.

Driving home from school one night, Ariana Grande’s song ‘God is a Woman’ came onto the radio and an idea came to me. The concept of the lesson would be focused on stereotyping females and males into ‘roles’ in life.
I planned to start the lesson with a discussion about stereotypes that the children would already be familiar with – ‘boys wear blue, girls wear pink’. I’d then move onto job stereotype roles, such as women being cleaners, and men being builders. This would lead into discussion within the class, until finally I would play the song to feed into the talk. The outcome of the lesson would be us writing to Ariana to tell her about our own views on her songs – did we really think God is a woman?

What I didn’t realise when I was planning this, was the power that the discussion would hold. It was truly amazing listening to children share their views on stereotyping of males and females. At one point of the discussion, a child raised their hand and asked “Why is it that if you want to marry, it is usually the man that has to propose to the woman? Is that a stereotype?” and we were able to spend time discussing how in the modern day, this is not necessarily true anymore. It was an amazing discussion to be a part of with thirty 11 year old children.
To introduce the writing element of my task, I used speech bubbles of people speaking. The discussion prior to this was key for supporting this. Next we considered our opinions and how it was perfectly fine for us to have a differing opinion to someone else in the room. I also explained to the children that I would tweet Ariana with our letters to let her know our view on her work. I was amazed at the outcomes:

Work2

Ariana

Ariana Pobble

I learnt so much from this activity. Firstly, how fantastic the opinions are of the pupils in my class. Most importantly though was the mutual respect they held for one another’s views. In a multi-cultural classroom, each one of the children were able to write their own views on God, and whether someone, like Ariana Grande, is able to influence our views on modern day stereotypes of gender.

I was humbled to be in a room full of little people with such tolerance and respect for one another, with a level of maturity I didn’t expect.


Kellie Griffiths is an assistant head and Year 6 teacher based in Nottingham, you can find her over on Twitter @missgriffithsy6 and have a read of her school’s writing on Pobble.

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