First-ever gender studies class in Oregon is being taught at Lincoln

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As they enter the 2019-2020 school year, students are returning to their classes, some of which are in their first year of being taught at Lincoln. 

Math has split into two tracks. FLI now has band and choir options. Native Spanish speakers are able to take a literature class in their first language (IB Spanish A: language and literature HL, taught by Pablo Dipascuale), computer science has a new curriculum, and Lincoln students will be the first in Oregon to take a high school gender studies class.

While the essential math curriculum has hardly changed, the course names and paths have. The two new math tracks are Application and Analysis. According to Lincoln’s Course Guide, the Applications track is for students who “enjoy mathematics best when seen in a practical context.”

In contrast, the Analysis track is for those who “enjoy the thrill of mathematical problem solving and generalization.” Both of these classes are offered at the higher level and standard level. Algebra 3-4 has also been split into these two tracks, in order to better prepare students for the next class they will be taking.

The Freshman Inquiry and Leadership class (FLI) has been split as well. Now the course features a band option and a choir option. The band-focused course is taught by band teacher David Kays, while the choir-focused course is taught by choir teacher Lisa Riffel. Each features the same curriculum as a normal FLI class but with added musical elements related to the specific course.

While computer science is not a course that is new to Lincoln, its curriculum has gotten a revamp this year. The new class is called Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS) Introduction to Computer Science and is taught by math teacher Ranjani Krishnan. It qualifies for a Career and Technical Education (CTE) credit and is a semester class. The course is an introduction to basic computer programing thinking and concepts.

Social sciences teacher Sara Matano has been working to get a gender studies class into Lincoln’s curriculum ever since she started teaching here. The idea started when she was in an advisory meeting for her dissertation with her professor, Nadje Al-Ali, at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. 

Matano recalls how, despite loving her studies, the field “simply reeked of privilege and it was a stench that was quickly growing intolerable.” Her main problem with the work was that “resolutions are signed that are at best irrelevant to the lives of the women and girls they are written about but instrumental in the advancement of the author’s career, and nothing changes.” So she completely changed course, and after finishing her graduate work in London she returned to Oregon and got her degree in teaching. 

 Gender studies features neither a strict lesson plan nor a syllabus. The students in the class are the ones suggesting topics, helping to make the lessons more interesting, more personal and more interactive. As of right now, the class is only taught during 3rd period, and it is very full. 

Matano hopes that she will be able to teach the class more next year, given students’ interest in taking it and her love for teaching the topics.  “I would like to offer the education I carry with me to address the social movements and controversies surrounding identity politics in general and gender, sexuality, and the body in particular in the interest of putting them in global and historical contexts,” Matano says.  “The misconceptions and reckless appropriations flying around must be examined, and I sincerely believe this generation of kids is ready for it.”

Despite the diversity of the new courses, they all have one thing in common: giving prospective students the freedom of choice.