I am in an entirely in-major courseload this semester. This has led me to the startling realization that there are basically three things that will be mentioned in every single class I ever set foot in during the course of my career here. If I could never have them discussed again, that would be awesome.
- Frat hazing: I get it. American culture is hard to pull rituals–particularly age-cohort coming-of-age rituals–from, and you want to pull from your students’ culture in order to make things Relevant. But I swear to Christ, if we talk about fraternity initiation one more time, I’m going to throw a DVD of Animal House at your Google Image picture of frat boys getting their homoerotic on. I have had this used in literally every single class that I am enrolled in this semester with the exception of my archaeology course–and that’s because wooden paddles don’t hold up in grave goods. Please find a new example. (I suggest the Masons. Everybody loves the Masons!)
- The “gender is not sex” lecture: I did in fact just have this in my archaeology class, so we’re 3 for 4 (and I’m pretty sure we’re batting 100% in my previous classes). It’s not that this isn’t a good thing to drive home. It is! It’s awesome! But if you’re not going to go into any more depth than this, this is a 101 topic that doesn’t need to be brought up again. It should be taken as a given that your students already know this, particularly if you’re not going to go in depth with this topic beyond that statement. Stick it in one of the required major classes, address it there, and go into it in more depth any other time it is mentioned. It does not need to be a full lecture every single time.
- Hijras: Hijras are interesting! They were particularly interesting when I covered them in 101. They have gotten less interesting as they have become the example for third genders in every class I’ve had since. Instead, talk about Native American third genders or invite students to talk about the modern American trans movement. If you’re going to try to relate coming-of-age rituals to the American context by using frat boys, then you have to relate gender issues to that context, too. Stick up some Youtube clips from Buck Angel! It’ll be a novel change of pace.