Class Prep + Fund in Action

The time has come!*

On January 16th we’ll start the course this trip has inspired: “The Female Voice”. In the months since I journeyed back from Haworth, time has been spent cultivating the syllabus around the course, reaching out to voices who could speak into the content, and continuing to learn about women- especially outside of Europe and America- who are grandmothers we need to know. (There are SO MANY incredible women in our global history, y’all.)

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Brontë Hallowed Ground 

The Brontë society is in the midst of celebrating the bicentennials of the births of Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne Brontë, with upgrades to the museum, displays from the BBC special “To Walk Invisible”, and artistic expressions of their work.

In one art piece an artist named Tamar Stone has created a small bed, layered in blankets, shams covering pillows, and a thick, lumpy mattress, each embroidered with the words of these four siblings from their written work. In the artist statement, she writes: Women have always been associated with the home, hearth, and domestic duties. The more I learn about women’s lives being constricted by their clothes and social mores, combined with my interest in the history of housework, the more I have been exploring what was happening to women in their homes and how they were prisoners within their ‘upholstered cages’. In the past our life cycle began and ended in the bed of our home: we were born there and we died there. Today that life cycle often begins and ends in an institutional bed.

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We are Volcanoes. 

A few days ago I mentioned an Ursula Le Guin commencement address that Rebecca Solnit quotes: “We are volcanoes,” Ursula K. Le Guin once remarked. “When we women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains.”

In Gilligan’s framework, it was here that I wanted to see this ethic of care as a place where both women and men could declare autonomy of self, but that they could work to leave a legacy of care behind.

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Victoria is Everywhere

In Paris I mentioned our guide, Heidi, sharing with us about the percentage of street named after women was dire. Being a native Londoner, she mentioned that she didn’t think London was the same way, in fact half of the stuff in the city are named for Victoria.

I can confirm this.

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Daughters, They are Speaking. 

Pardon this late post! Spotty wifi and a bus trip to London has given me some extra time to think about Paris; hope this is worth the wait! 🙂


Wednesday was a hard day. In the construction of this trip, I had planned France to be a liberating point in lining up with Gilligan’s work, a place where we found women on the brink of autonomy. Sure, they were still in the struggle to have work recognized, but overall traction is gaining and life is moving forward. Instead we found the marks of women and them labeled under the banner brotherhood, angels, and demons. We found women above and below and not at the table.

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Sisterhood, Brotherhood, Humanity. 

“[Women] are far above men to inspire him, far beneath him to corrupt him… but they have no human mind and no human nature.” – Dorothy Sayers, The Human Not Quite Human, 1947.

I love Dorothy Sayers and her essays on women from the first half of the last century. And this small passage comes up time and time again as I’ve read about the women on this trip. For the most part, I’ve somewhat enjoyed digging in to it, this idea that women are above to inspire and below to tempt and are never quite human, and what we can do in our classrooms and lives to help both boys and girls realize that this simply isn’t the case: we are all human.

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Fresh Air from Maria & Corrie

“Her ideas are still so… fresh.”

While Nina, our guide at the Maria Montessori house, spoke this about the creator of an education movement still happening today, I believe we could say the same of so many women and men we’ve met along this trip and especially in Amsterdam. There’s a reason we’re drawn to Anne’s belief that people are still good at heart, that Maria’s schools and method are still growing, that Heidi has been translated into so many languages.

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Being a Namer: Reflections on Anne Frank 

When I was around 10 or 11, I read Anne Frank’s diary for the first time. It was one of those books that I felt deeply. Anne and I were so similar: both young girls who wanted to be writers, both born in June, both loved our parents deeply and yet felt constantly misunderstood by them, both with the middle name of Marie. I remember in the midst of reading it trying to start my own diary- something I’ve never done well- and naming it Kitty, like Anne.

I read the book over and over again, hoping for a different ending, each time heartbroken that history couldn’t change.

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What We Learned from Georg, Ella, and Johanna

Oh Switzerland. Forget our Florence and Siena campuses, sign me up for a German class and plant me in the rural Swiss countryside and you’ll never meet a happier teacher.

Yesterday we saw the places that inspired Spyri, today we saw the hometown that gave her beginnings. After our trip to Maienfeld, we asked the Swiss information desk how best to get to Hirzel. “Hirzel? Why do you want to go to Hirzel?” She said. “Tourists do not go there, people live there.”

We bought tickets anyway.

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