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Dear Tim:

I'm a high school ELA teacher in Texas. I'm also a military and civilian police veteran, an active shooter, athlete and martial artist. The chap in the room next door to mine is also a veteran, past aerospace executive and retired CIA operative.

Your conclusions are correct and seemingly simple, but of course, the ELA ranks are dominated by women. We see little of Hemingway because many women don't relate to him.

I've found success by writing and sharing short stories of my police experiences, and by having the guys write as well. I also steer the kids toward more male-oriented lit., which many of the girls enjoy as girls are much more active and not as gender repressed as they once were.

A shame that such simple solutions always seem so hard to come by in teaching.


Most of the boys today (under 20) don't have the heros of those males of us who are older. I grew up watching all those WWII movies, reading about JFK and the PT109, Guadacanal Diary, Flying B17's over occupied Germany, and listening to the stories of guys who lived through the WWII military experience. It didn't glorify war, but made it something known, a part of our history.

But, look at today......who are the "bad guys" and who are the 'good guys'. IMO, It is not so black and white now.

And, we won't see many stories from Vietnam or the Iraq wars or the other little wars being read about in ELA classes, because, like you noted, women dominate that field.



I don't know what the curriculum in your school district looks like, but the total number of short stories and books I read (required in class) in junior high and high school English classes could be counted on two hands. Only two items we had to read were narrated from a female point of view, "To Kill a Mockingbird" (also the only book we read written by a woman) and an excerpt from the diary of Sylvia Plath.

By the way, in high school I had to read at least two short stories by Hemingway. I graduated class of 2000

Tim Fredrick

The issue is not male versus female or what we require students to read. The idea is that we incorporate choice into the curriculum so that *all* students can bring in their outside interests to the ELA classroom and be engaged. After incorporating choice - and the work I do now with it - I've noticed that engagement has gone up across the board. But, incorporating choice requires us to give up some of our long-held beliefs and value what students choose to read and write about.

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