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Gender is one of the most contentious topics in the United States today, conversations about gender in education have even been the targets of so-called “divisive concepts” laws in states like Iowa, New Hampshire, and Alabama. The Alabama “divisive concepts” law, for example, would ban any discussion in K12 schools around the idea that Alabama and the United States are “inherently racist or sexist: ” that anyone should be assigned bias “solely on the basis of their race, sex, or religion;” and that anyone should be asked to accept “a sense of guilt, complicity, or a need to work harder” because of their race or gender.
However, schools are as much as any other social institution a place where our constructed biases, expressions, and expectations about the performance of gender, leadership, the perceived attributes of students, and our response to student behaviors deeply influence not only the academic outcomes of school but the lifelong outcomes of students themselves. The focus of my conversation today, The Gender Equation in Schools: How to Create Equity and Fairness for All Students, is not a book directed at the culture war’s so-called “divisive concepts”, but rather a book for educators and parents desiring a framework for understanding the gendered construction of schooling and its impacts as informed by experience, social science, and neuroscience alike.
Joining me today is the book’s author, Jason Ablin. Jason Ablin has served as a teacher, department chair, principal, and head of school. He holds national certification in leadership coaching and mentoring from the National Association of School Principals and has been supporting and mentoring new leaders throughout the country for over ten years. At American Jewish University and in school-based teacher workshops, he trains teachers to create gender aware classrooms and has taught year-long courses to teams of educators in graduate level seminars regarding the relationship between cognitive neuroscience and education. He is also the founder and director of AJU’s Mentor Teacher Certification Program.
Jason Ablin is a former teacher, department chair, principal, and head of school. He now works at the American Jewish University to train teachers on gender-aware classrooms, and is the founder and director of AJU's Mentor Teacher Certification Program.
0:00:00.4 Jason Ablin: The impetus for the book, the thinking about it was both of my outrage about what was going on at the time and how little progress we have made culturally and socially around these issues. But also my frustration with the fact that I felt if we ever wanted to make any progress around this issue, we needed to stop having conversations about 50-year-old men. That was not going to get us anywhere, and it hasn't gotten us anywhere really. And we need to start talking about two-year-olds and we need to start talking about their experiences, at least in part within their communities, and within their schools because as you know, Nick, that is such a shaping narrative for them of who they become ultimately.
0:00:42.0 Nick Covington: Hello, and welcome to episode 119 of our podcast at the Human Restoration Project. My name is Nick Covington, and I'm the Creative Director for the Human Restoration Project. Before we get started, I wanted to let you know that this is brought to you by our supporters, three of whom are Kevin Gannon, Lisa Wennerth and Kimberly Baker. Thank you for your ongoing support! You can more about the Human Restoration Project on our website, or find us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.
0:01:11.5 NC: Gender is one of the most contentious topics in the United States today, conversations about gender and education have been the targets of so-called "divisive concept" laws, in states like Iowa, New Hampshire and Alabama. The Alabama "divisive concepts" law, for example, would ban in any discussion in K12 schools around the idea that Alabama and the United States are "inherently racist or sexist:" that anyone should be assigned bias "solely on the basis of their race, sex or religion;" and that anyone should be asked to accept a sense of guilt, complicity or need to work harder because of their race or gender.
0:01:46.8 NC: However, schools are as much as any other social institution, a place where our constructed biases, expressions and expectations about the performance of gender, leadership, the perceived attributes of students, and our response to student behaviors deeply influence not only the academic outcomes of school, but the lifelong outcomes of students themselves. The focus of my conversation today, The Gender Equation in Schools: How to Create Equity and Fairness for All Students, is not a book directed at the culture war's, so-called "divisive concepts", but rather a book for educators and parents desiring a framework for understanding the gendered construction of schooling and its impact as informed by experience, social science and neuroscience alike.
0:02:35.2 NC: Joining me today is the book's author Jason Ablin. Jason Ablin has served as a teacher, department chair, principal and head of school. He holds national certification in leadership coaching and mentoring from the National Association of School Principals, and has been supporting and mentoring new leaders throughout the country over 10 year. At American Jewish University and in school-based teacher workshops, he trains teachers to create gender aware classrooms and has taught year-long courses to teams of educators in graduate level seminars regarding the relationship between cognitive neuroscience and education. He's also the founder and director of AJU's Mentor Teacher Certification Program. You can find him on Twitter @ JasonAblin and on his website, Ablineducation.com.
0:03:28.6 NC: Whoa, Thanks for joining me today, Jason.
0:03:31.3 JA: I'm glad to be here, Nick. Nice to be here, absolutely.
0:03:35.4 NC: Let's just start by talking to those in our audience who aren't familiar with your work. What have you been doing for the last 30 years? What's the impetus for this book: The Gender Equation in Schools, and perhaps what's the biggest take away that you'd like readers to walk away with?
0:03:53.0 JA: Well, if I can start at the end, which is, I think I'm gonna cut and paste your introduction to this and just use it every time someone asks me that question 'cause it's so articulate and clear. I'll start with the last 30 years. In the last... Over 30 years now, I've been in education working with students and working with schools and improving schools. And for about the past five or six years I have been out on the road myself doing consulting with schools, and one of the areas I do significant coaching and mentoring of faculty members, and also trying to create school cultures around this question of gender. And really trying to make faculties very aware of the way that schools are constructed around gender and gender biases and implicit bias. That's been going on... That has been going on in my thinking since my second year in education. This goes back 30 years, 33 years, I was 26 years old, 27 years old when this conversation really started for me back in the '90s. And in the book, there are all these stories that kind of unfold about my understanding of this and how this got to this place. And I started to do some very serious work when I was a principal of a school in Los Angeles at K through 8. I typically worked in high schools before, and I became principal of this really wonderful old elementary school, K through 8 elementary school.
0:05:27.4 JA: And we did some wonderful work around this issue for a number of years, and then #MeToo happened. And at the time, as I mentioned in the book, I was also teaching this class, this all girls class of girls who were really challenged in terms of mathematics. They were all in seventh grade, and I said, "This is all coming together for me, and I really need to start writing about it and blogging about it and writing a book." And the book actually took me four and a half years to write. It took me quite a long time to write. The impetus for the book, the thinking about it was both kind of my outrage about what was going on at the time and how little progress we had made culturally and socially around these issues, but also my frustration with the fact that I felt if we ever wanted to make any progress around this issue, we needed to stop having conversations about 50-year-old men.
0:06:25.4 JA: That was not going to get us anywhere and it hasn't gotten us anywhere really. And we need to start talking about two-year-olds, and we need to start talking about their experiences, at least in part within their communities and within their schools. Because as you know, Nick, that is such a shaping narrative for them of who they become ultimately, but we have this oversized influence on children's lives. And we have to take that extremely seriously when we think about the cultural constructs of our schools.
0:06:58.4 NC: It's really interesting that you say, starting with two. One of the framings of the book that made this, I guess, so deeply personal for me is that I have a four-year-old son. And one kind of the shaping experiences that I can recall in his young life was when he was about two years old, and the day care provider that he was going to at the time told us one day, and this still is kind of a running joke in our household that, "Oh, he's such a boy. Oh, he's such a boy." And for someone who's trying to give my son a fighting chance to not fall into the gendered hazards and the barriers that we build for kids, to kind of have him set by his own teacher along that path and to fit whatever criteria was in her mental model for how two-year-olds perform of masculinity. He's such a boy, was kind of shocking to me that here's somebody who we trust with our kid and is obviously gonna be treating him in this particularly gendered way based on her own experiences.
0:08:04.9 JA: Yeah, and it's a comfort level. Right? It really... For teachers, I think it's a way to make sense of what's going on inside their classrooms, and inside of schools. And we have a lot of inputs going on for teachers and educators. We have to do a lot of work along those lines, and so I think what will happen and which I mentioned in the book, is we gender default. We gender default in order to create order and understanding for ourselves so we can move forward in other realms and educate the kids, teach them how to read and teach them how to write. But at the same time, we don't understand the enormous impact that that actually has on the success of students in classrooms. In the short term, we're doing this gender default work, in the long term, we are doing things that actually inhibit their ability to learn well.
0:09:00.6 NC: It becomes a heuristic for our ways of organizing. Not just organizing our practice, but organizing our students as well. A student acts like this or performs in such a way because they fit some sort of gender criteria. One of the activities that I loved in the book was you had this list of adjectives that you would use to describe students, and you would actually... What kind of code... Gender codes, do these words fall into? Are these masculine words? These feminine coded words. Which ones would you use to describe boys and girls? And I found myself going along. It was interesting, the layout the book has... On the one page, it has the full list and I was kind of mentally going through as I was going through it, and I was like, "Oh, I bet I probably was fairly even-handed, and I turn the page and you're like, "Here is usually how this exercise goes." And I was like, "Dang, foiled again." And it just is one of those things. As much as we would talk about our racial biases or other kinds of things, just the insidious way that gender infiltrates and guides the way that we think about students in classrooms.
0:10:05.3 NC: I took your book with me through airports on Labor Day weekend. It was really interesting being pretty self-conscious about the title of this book, and how it will be perceived by people at the airport, people on the plane, etcetera, considering that narrative about the way those two words, gender and schools have been deliberately constructed over the last... I think just maybe the last year or so. And how that association of gender and schools has been meant to trigger immediately hostile reactions to bypass the frontal lobe, go right to the amygdala. So this book and your work can't be separate from that broader conversation and their public response to it. You say you started on this book four years ago. Have you seen a way, a change in the way that people respond to your work in schools or to the book or how have you addressed those concerns, or those criticisms broadly?
0:11:01.4 JA: Well, it's a great question because first of all, I think the airports probably tell us more about the way people are interacting with gender than any other place, right? There's people who's running around. I saw that question that you sent me and I was, "Wow, this is a great exercise in and of itself thinking about these airports." As I get some very typical reactions, and you can imagine. On the one hand, I'll get either when I'm talking about it with people who are lay leaders, people who are not in education or even what I'm dealing with faculties. I'll get the eye rolling on the one hand and the eye rolling usually to, "Oh, we're going into this woke conversation." That's the immediate visceral reaction that people have. They... When you talk about triggers, that's the language trigger for a number of people. We're gonna have that kind of conversation, but there's another kind of reaction that I get which is also equally as present, which is people looking at me and saying, "Who is this White, 57-year-old, cisgender hat male gonna teach me about gender equity." And both of those for me are fairly problematic responses, but fairly typical given the ideological landscape we find ourselves in, right? I'm not surprised by them at this point or shocked by them at all.
0:12:35.5 JA: And so part of what I tell teachers is, I really wanna give you the tools necessary and the language necessary, so you can detoxify this conversation, so you can express to other people, particularly parents, or in school board meetings or in a highly divisive environment. You can explain exactly why we need to have this conversation and why it's so important for children and for education. Ultimately, what you... Nick, you and I, and I've read your stuff before and it's such a pleasure. But one of the things that we're both interested in, we're looking... We're looking for student success. We're looking for students to feel the joy of learning, and we want to take away any barriers towards that. And therefore gender becomes... The examination of gender becomes a tool to get to that end. So if... We don't wanna engage in conversations about indoctrination and in conversations that are going on all over this country, then what we really need to do is be able to have the language necessary to do that and be able to inform and educate other people about it.
0:13:50.7 JA: I also tell people very clearly from the beginning when I'm working with faculty members, I say, "I've been on a 30-year journey with this gender question. A lot of it has been very personal, and a lot of it has been also obviously, bleeds into the professional and how I behaved as a professional. These stories and memories are incredibly revelatory. They are also incredibly difficult at times to deal with for who I am and the age in which I grew up with. I've had to come to terms with a lot of things, and a lot of experiences I've had in the past, and things that I've done and things that I've said and you're doing... You've gotta kind of sing the redemption song at a certain point and move on, but I also tell people that it's made me a better person. Having this experience has transformed me, I feel, into a better father, into a better educator, into a better parent and partner to my wife. All these kinds of things, I think have been improvements. And I wanna be able to give that over to the future generation to be able to have that experience of transformation as well.
0:15:03.9 NC: And maybe a couple of things to unpack from this. I think one of the... I guess one of the revelations for me... 'Cause I think I've done a lot of work in consciousness raising in my own to regard to students from the LGBTQ community, in regards to issues with race and students who are otherwise marginalized based on income status or immigration, those kinds of things. And one of the things I think that was a big, again, revelation and a transfer of that other understanding for me too was the notion that... Just like we would say racism in schools, even though the perception and probably rightfully so, is that it benefits certain groups over others. But it also... Racism is a limiting factor for the people who are also positively benefiting from racism.
0:15:51.6 NC: And in the same way that we would talk about sexism or gender biases in schools. Those same lenses that are used to put girls in boxes, speaking as maybe a minority group in schools would also be used against boys as well. So those gender biases and the sexism is something that also limits the ability of boys to behave in ways that are not coded as in relation to their gender or coded as masculine either. And I think the other take away for this for me is that notion of ally-ship. It is important, I think as straight White men, not to center ourselves in these conversations, but I also think we have to be able to figure out a way to leverage our own power and privilege within our own context. And you say knowing better about these issues and how they're impacting either at a systemic level or on a classroom level, then doing better.
0:16:46.9 NC: And I think... I don't think it's exactly fair to... For people to levy that criticism that we don't play a role in that process. Because we play a very important one, which is validating perspectives and approaches, and if we can sort of be that ally for people who might not otherwise have that much of a voice or who may be marginalized or under-represented in those conversations, then we can help shine a light on those things as well. To bring it around to that work that you've done with teachers the last quarter of the book is excellent. It's called Tools for Teachers and Schools and contains exercises to use, or ostensibly that you have used with faculty for teachers to use in their classrooms. Even a section for learning goals on physical education and awareness goals for middle school students. I thought those were really incredible. So what does your work with school faculty look like, and I'm especially curious about the conversations, reflections, even the revelations that you've been privy to as a result of that work in schools. What do all of these school communities have in common when they interact with your work?
0:17:51.9 JA: Well, I think that you mentioned it right away, this kind of sense of who gets to center the conversation. That's a really important part of this. And the way I start... With the way I start with faculties is that I de-center myself almost immediately. That to me is a critical part of this process, and I begin by, again, showing them how I can take out or detoxify the ideological issues by having them tell stories. That's always where I begin, particularly with a community that's never had this conversation before. And the temp... I have four templates, basically for stories and narratives that teachers can tell each other, and they get into groups and they start telling gender stories to one another. And they can be gender stories from their own experiences in school or from their experiences as professionals in school. But I want them to become aware of how sort of ubiquitous the gender story is in their lives. And what that tends to do is by personalizing it, it tends to create a sense of We're all in this together. We all have stories to tell. We all have experiences which talk to us about the way we were masculinized, right? The way we were brought up to understand our masculinity. And as you say so well, how damaging that can be, right?
0:19:19.0 JA: It gives us enormous privilege in the society, but it comes at an enormous cost, the mental health cost, the cost to creating relationships and being vulnerable and all of these kind of narratives which men are very much in touch with. They know these stories, and women get to tell their stories, and probably the most beneficial for me over the last 10 years has been having stories with Black women in our communities, in our educational communities. They have schooled me and taught me an enormous amount about this issue from an intersectional standpoint. So we all get to hear those stories and we all get to humanize the issue of gender. One story, which I'll share with you, which was with a school, which I was a very conservative community. And for the most part, the school was a very conservative place, and I was very grateful they had invited me in at all to have this conversation. I thought it was pretty brave, right? And after we had done this first session on stories, I had one of the teachers come up to me and I suppose he was a little scared to have shared this in the group, and of course, I always tell people, "You need to share the stories you're comfortable with. You need to tell the stories, you can't... " Not everything is good for professional development inside a school.
0:20:42.4 JA: But he came up to me afterwards and he said, "Do you know Jason, I wanted to tell you that I grew up in an extremely to the right religious environment, and it was very strict and very conservative. And it was me, my mother, my father, and my seven brothers." Okay. And he said, "Because of who we were religiously, the only woman I had really had a full conversation with before I got married, was my mother." And he said, "It took me years to figure out how to communicate with my wife, and then we started having children and we have five daughters."
0:21:24.0 JA: Okay, and you can imagine the tension and the angst, but he said, "I had to literally educate myself on how to raise daughters and see things through their lenses as they were getting older." I don't know if I hadn't been in that PD session, I don't know if he ever would have shared that perspective or that would have come up in his memory as a significant understanding of not only who he was as a person, but who he was as an educator, how that impacted him as an educator. So those stories are absolutely essential. They really get people galvanized around the work that we're gonna... That we eventually embark on after we tell these stories.
0:22:10.3 JA: After that, then we start talking about teacher-student interaction, I start giving them very clear... As you know from the book, I start giving them very clear understandings of the data and the research which is done, which is a pretty robust. It was done... A lot of the work was done during the '70s and '80s and '90s. But it's still very much relevant today. It's still basically what happens in our classrooms. We talk about interaction, engagement, and expectations, and then often, I have them do something which I think has been really, really beneficial, which I have them go around their school and I have them create a gender geography of their school. And they have to tell a story about the building that they work in and what kind of messages it sends kids about gender, and that is a pretty powerful... That is a pretty powerful conversation.
0:23:06.1 JA: I've had faculties who I've sent out, "You need to go to your football stadium, your football field. Tell me what goes on there, especially on Friday nights. Right, and tell me the gender story that happens out there and the good, the bad, and the ugly of that and maybe how it's even changed over the years." And by building that, we also understand that the environment is not there, just by happenstance. We create the environment in which the students walk into every day and there's all kinds of gender signifiers all over the learning environment, in classrooms, in hallways, everywhere. And that becomes a moment of great revelation for them to talk about what... Just simply what... How the kids... Where the kids have to spend their day for eight hours a day, and that's really where the work begins and they begin to raise significant questions about their school environment.
0:24:02.9 NC: Maybe to dive a little deeper into that, because I'm kind of fascinated perhaps by what schools have come up with or what are some kind of themes there. Because as with anything, deliberately constructed or not, it's constructive and it's communicating messages.
0:24:16.6 JA: Correct. [chuckle] Correct.
0:24:19.0 NC: And I always come back, I loop... My brain loops back around to Ira Socol, said, "The context is the content," so we're teaching these lessons about gender and the proper roles that students are supposed to play, those gendered silos, even if our intent is not to communicate them deliberately. Are there common areas or common themes that you've seen across schools that where these issues come up more prominently, or are there common issues that seem to be the focus of the work then that schools embark on?
0:24:49.5 JA: So one of the things I really work on when I work with elementary schools, and also I work with early childhood centers as well on this issue is we talk about how they construct their classrooms. And that is, as you know, elementary school teachers, don't get in the way of an elementary school teacher putting their class together for the first two or three days when they get back to the school. It's an 8 o'clock in the morning till 10 o'clock at night activity. There's lots of coffee involved, and as a principal, I would just stick my head in and just say "Good luck," and walk out and stay out of their way, but what I found, which was, again, going back to this, my work in Cognitive Neuroscience also, which relates to it, is that I would find typically, and I would take pictures of classrooms and show them to the teachers and we would talk about it. But typically speaking, elementary school teachers will construct 80-90% of their classroom around language arts lessons and language arts learning.
0:25:55.2 JA: That has to do with the fact that 90% of elementary school teachers in this country are women, and generationally speaking, they are women who have opted out of particularly math-related or science-related fields. They've gone into education for all the right reasons, but they also come into that classroom with enormous anxiety and literally stereotype thread around math learning and science learning, math in particular. So what they do is they construct this space, which is 80-90% literacy studies, some of it is like aphorisms that fill the walls, a little bit of history, and then there's always the ubiquitous number line that wraps around the top of the classroom, and they're like, "Okay, did math. We're done." Okay, and when we get down to it, what I say to them is, "What would you say typically is the balance of expectations for learning in this classroom?"
0:27:00.3 JA: And they'll say something like, "Well, we need to do about 50% literacy studies, about 40-45% math studies, some science, some history." And I'll say, "Does your classroom represent mathematics? How does it represent that sense of Mathematics is an important and relevant subject that you need to be learning in your school." And you're talking to an English teacher here. Right, Nick? I'm a veteran of the English classroom. And at the same time, I understand by constructing their classrooms that way, what is the message they're sending to their female students? What is... As they begin to relate literally on a neural basis with their teachers, what is the message that's being come across to girls in the classroom? And what's the message that's coming across to boys about the expectation for math learning in this classroom? And then we go through the process of deconstructing the classrooms and thinking about creative ways to represent math, and really, again, we go back to stories. We go back to teachers telling very significant stories about their own experiences growing up, their own math anxiety, what that's meant to them. And that is a very fruitful conversation about something that is concrete for them. It's not ideological, it's not... It's real language around why we need to think about gender inside of our schools and inside of our biases.
0:28:31.7 NC: And you mentioned a couple of times throughout the course of the conversation, your background in cognitive neuroscience. And I hesitate to call it a new neuroscience because it's been around for ages. But in the book, you talk about your work with Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, whose work has been revelatory for me anyway in that regard, too. But I think that's a fascinating addition to books of this kind, because I think the issue of gender kind of is wrapped up in the sociologist tool kit or something that might be more aligned to the humanities. So when I was reading through your book, it was an interesting balance of your experience and telling the story of these students as they related to the concepts you were talking about.
0:29:14.8 NC: But then there was always a section that relates it back to, "Hey, here's Gardner. Hey, here's Yang. Hey, here is this foundational neuroscience that tells... That informs us what the brain is doing it along the way as well." So what is your experience in the field of neuroscience? You just said you're an English teacher here. How do you get roped into [chuckle] MRI scans and everything else? What does that add and how does it improve our conversation, either right around the gender equation in schools or just generally about learning and schooling. We can tackle both parts of that.
0:29:47.1 JA: Sure. I was really blessed in 2007-2008, to be able to take a sabbatical year and get it funded and to be able to work with Mary Helen down at USC. She holds... Half of her professorship is held at the Education School, half of it is held at the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, where she was recruited by Antonio Damasio to work there and do research there. So she's very much invested in partnering with educators and going beyond just typically what we get from academics often, which is directive. [chuckle] Academics go, "You should be doing this," and there's no sense that educators have any wealth of knowledge or experience that might be helpful to understanding this, and Mary Helen's the opposite.
0:30:40.5 JA: Mary Helen actually seeks out partnership. And so when I came to her, I really came with the enthusiasm of realizing, "This is the bridge we need to cross. This is the place we're gonna start to really understand what goes on in a classroom in a very different way." And I really learned at her feet. I really learned from her, and she really was patient with me and walked me through all of the statistics and the work that she was doing. At the time, she was working on some very deep research and two boys who had had functional hemispherectomies, where one boy had had the right half of his brain removed for certain reasons, and the other boy had had the other half of his brain removed, so one had, had it because he had cancer on one side of his brain and the other had had it because he had very debilitating epilepsy and he had seizures, mild seizures.
0:31:40.2 JA: And so she... This is where the money is made. Unfortunately, when you have kids like this, they're really so... They create wealths of knowledge about these issues from a cognitive standpoint, so she was doing studies on it. I was able to be involved in that, and also she invited me to write on it for Mind, Brain, and Education which I did. I wrote about how do you take her research and translate it into the classroom, and she wanted that. She invited me into that conversation, so I was able to take what I had learned and really turned it into constructive activist thinking inside the classroom. And when you start doing the deep dive into this material, you can't see the classroom the same again. [chuckle] You walk into these spaces, and I hate to put it, it's a very matrix-y. You start to see the code falling. And all of a sudden you're like, "Oh, this is going on and this is going on, and you're seeing all these stuff that you never saw before. It really is a... It really opens your lenses. But at the time, by the time we were done, I was... I had just taken all this thinking I had done about gender and the thinking I had done about cognitive neuroscience and they just came together so naturally. They just made so much sense to me, particularly in regard to areas like mirror neurons, and the way that we don't really think individually. That's one of the fallacies that you and I are kind of individual independent entities.
0:33:24.3 JA: This is for Cartesian, right? We're both independent to entities, and we have all these thoughts and ideas, and they generate from our own minds and everything like that. And in fact, our neural networks extend into our relationship with individuals, families, communities, schools. Schools are cognitive ecosystems. That's really what they are. And once we recognize how much influence teachers have over children from, a cognitive standpoint, then we really need to take a step back, then we need to see how our own biases and our own implicit understandings of things have such a world-shaping event on students every day. Every single day, it's a bit scary, but it's also... It's liberating on another level. It can be very liberating.
0:34:23.5 NC: I think there's a lot of power in that new cognitive neuroscience, and I say new again, not maybe to refer to it necessarily in time and chronology, but kind of there's different schools. Say the one maybe like of #CogSci, maybe is more like a brains and jars kind of approach that looks at, again, those individual students in relation to the content and then really focuses on teacher inputs and outputs for the purpose of improving test scores or something. Whereas, the work that you had done there and Mary Helen Immordino-Yang and other researchers as well, are looking at that in that full context of schooling, not necessarily just the inputs and outputs of individual teachers. But how the... Give us a cognitive neuroscience language to describe that interaction, not just a critical pedagogy one. Give us something in cognitive neuroscience to help us with this language of gender around schools, and again, not just a sociological one. I do think it helps legitimize... For better or worse, I really do think it helps legitimize these pursuits when you can demonstrate from a hard scientific perspective, the lens it has, it's just not... Not that the humanities are always like this, but it's just not conjecture. It's just not critical theory. It's not just these ideas, it's actually, "Here's the hard stuff to back it up."
0:35:45.1 JA: One last thing I think that might be irrelevant framing, and this has been a really great conversation, Nick. It's been really... It's been really deep, and I think we'll all benefit more when we start seeing the word gender in a very different way, and my hope is that we don't just see gender either as defined by feminism, which it often is. We start talking about gender and people think that we're immediately talking about feminism, which I think feminism did a lot to liberate us actually from notions of what gender meant. But at the same time, it's been kind of... It's been put in that parking lot and it can't get out, [chuckle] and the other one is that when we talk about gender, the only thing we're talking about is LGBTQIA community, and that I think is also very problematic because again, I think it ghettoizes those kids and those people going through that experience. When we're all part of the gender conversation, we all have our gender stories, we all have ways of framing the world in a very primary way from the way we see gender and how it's been constructed for us, it behooves all of us to think about this. No matter what our orientation or are thinking about things, and I hope... My hope for the book is that we can really open up this conversation and get beyond the [chuckle] legislation and the current conversation that we're finding all over this country to a more sophisticated conversation. Yeah.
0:37:13.4 NC: And I think the book does an excellent job of that, so the book is The Gender Equation In Schools. The author, Jason Ablin, thanks for joining me today to talk about it.
0:37:23.4 JA: It's been a pleasure.
0:37:28.7 NC: Thank you again for listening to Human Restoration Project's podcast. I hope this conversation leaves you inspired and ready to push the progressive envelope of education. You can learn more about progressive education. Support our cause and stay tuned to this podcast and other updates on our website at humanrestorationproject.org.