Curriculum in Action

A snapshot of students' interactions with the HEY! curriculum.

Students study curriculum outdoors

Students study the HEY! curriculum outdoors.

This section provides examples of the implementation of HEY’s workbooks. Here, you will be able to review real interactions of students with the workbooks. All names are pseudonyms.

Example #1: 

Workbook: Youth with equality

Lesson: No. 6: Our lives during and after puberty. 

Peer educators: 11th graders 

Recipients: 9th graders

Tutor as moderator

Lesson 6 of the workbook Youth with Equality, “Our lives during and after puberty” describes how the biological changes that adolescents experience during puberty intersect with youth’s emotions and the expectations society has for them. The lesson contains a table where students are expected to number two biological changes that take place during puberty, two emotions or feelings they experience during puberty, and two ways in which societal expectations during puberty are different for boys and girls. The following images provide a glimpse of this lesson:

Page 1 of Curriculum Text Ch 6

During this exercise, two female 11th graders (Melissa and Victoria) were discussing how the beliefs around condoms reflected unfair expectations for girls and boys. During this discussion, a male 9th grader, Juan, intervened and his comments reflected commonly-held beliefs that girls had no business carrying condoms:

Melissa (11th): Nowadays, if a person sees that a boy is carrying a condom, they tell him “buy more,” “you’re the man!” But if they see a girl carrying a condom…

Victoria (11th): They start judging her.

Melissa (11th): They start saying “who knows how many more she has bought before, how many more she has used before.” But they do not say that about a boy.

Then, Juan asked why girls should be carrying condoms (suggesting that girls shouldn’t carry condoms):

Juan (9th): Then, why is she carrying them? [The condoms]

Melissa then tried to challenge his comments by asking why would he carry a condom (pointing out that are for sex, whether you are a boy or a girl). He evades this question with a joke:

Melissa (11th): Let’s see, if you carry a condom, what do you carry it for?

Juan (9th): Just to carry it around.

(students laugh)

Melissa (11th): Well, a woman can carry a condom just for the sake of carrying it as well.

(silence followed by laughter)

Teacher (F): This is where the machismo becomes apparent.

Melissa (11th): Yeah, that is gender inequality! Because they treat the boy as if he were a champion if they date many girls. And sometimes if a girl has several admirers they call her a …

Victoria (11th): Boys can have many female friends but girls can’t have male friends.

Juan (9th): No [the expectation is that they shouldn’t have male friends].

In this exchange, Juan’s interjections reflect the belief that girls have no business carrying condomsand he does not seem to indicate that his belief is subject to change. However, what is important in this exchange is how dialogue about  the differential treatment of girls and boys took place in the classroom. Juan’s peers and teacher  responded and reflected on the views that he accepted as normal or acceptable (the hegemonic assumption-grounded in patriarchy- that only men should carry condoms). This kind of exchange is crucial in uncovering how the assumptions that a person may have around a subject might be questionable and how  further examination of it may help foment a broader understanding of the subject. dialogue played a central role in this exchange as it allowed peers to become critical mirrors of Juan’s assumptions (and everyone participating in this discussion). 

This exercise is an example of how the workbooks are guided by elements from critical (e.g. based on dialogue, uncovering oppression and injustice) and feminist (e.g. pointing out how social expectations are gendered and the structural conditions that put girls at a disadvantage) pedagogies that generate activities and discussions. These provided students with the opportunity to engage in a collective reflective process that enabled them to become aware of their own assumptions (like Juan) and develop a greater awareness of the society in which they live.

Example #2: 

Workbook: Youth with equality

Lesson: No. 3: Gender (in)equality. 

Peer educators: 11th graders 

Recipients: 9th graders

Tutor as moderator

In addition to recognizing and challenging assumptions around gender inequality, the workbook also invites students to imagine alternatives to the reality that they experience. The following exchange was captured during a peer implementation between 11th graders and 9th graders of lesson 3 of the workbook Youth with Equality, “Gender (in)equality.” The following images show excerpts of this lesson:

Page 1 of Curriculum Text

 The following exchanges are excerpts that took place throughout the one-hour class discussion of this lesson:

David (11th): Can somebody tell me what gender inequality is?

Jessica (9th): When men and women do not enjoy the same rights.

David (11th): Can someone give me an example of gender inequality?

Francisco (9th): An example can be when either a boy/girl has a preference to go to school over a girl/boy.

The conversation continued:

David (11th): Some examples of gender norms are “men can’t cry because they are men…or can’t sweep because he is a man, can’t do laundry because he is a man” those  are gender norms. Where are these gender norms applied?

Rosa (9th): In the family, at home, in society.

The peer tutor then invited 9th graders to reflect about where gender inequality can be practiced:

David (11th): Where should we practice gender equality?

9th grade students (collective response): In our families, our homes, in society.

David (11th): Where else?

Rosa (9th): Everywhere!

David (11th): Wherever we go, it is important that we practice gender equality. At work, in our families.

Martha (9th): At school.

David (11th): Do you think this [gender inequality] happens amongst friends?

9th grade students (collective response):  Yes.  

The peer tutor continues to read the reflection questions included in the lesson:

 David (11th): (Reading from the workbook) How can boys contribute to gender equality?

Dennis (9th): Sweeping, helping out at home.

Tania (9th): Practicing gender equality.

David (11th): What else?

Pablo (9th): Not being machistas!

David (11th): Men can contribute by setting a good example.

The discussion ended with a reflection about the impact that gender equality could have on society:

David (11th): If gender equality changes are achieved, who will they affect?

Paola (9th): Our kids, future generations.

Bessy: (9th): Society.

The classroom dialogue captured here illustrates how, through the use of strategic questioning, the curriculum pushes students to recognize and challenge inequality. It also provides students with an opportunity to reimagine and propose alternative ways in which they can promote and achieve gender equality. Importantly, following a feminist pedagogy, the workbook pushes this analysis beyond the walls of a classroom and invites students to analyze how gender equality might not only improve their lives, but society overall, and how they can become agents of change.