Two pernicious points about Mates&Dates

I am a teacher and yesterday I was able to sit in on a Mates and Dates lesson for 30 minutes or so at an Auckland Secondary school. They referred to previous lessons and presented some new content.

Apparently, everything is gender. Everything.

Also, if you are a man you probably get violent when you get emotional. quote.

“If you’re a man you might react with violence” end quote.

Now we are going to teach you (men) about how you need to not get violent.

The students were shown a video of a sportsman and a male actor on Shortland Street talking about getting angry.

It was like being in a Gillette ad. 

While I was there, there was not an interactive discussion in the classroom; it was more like a very long introduction to the video. The discussion time would have been at the end after the video.

Clearly there were students who didn?t like the classes but perhaps you can say that about any class on any subject.

At the start of the talk they gave very clear instructions about how, if anyone was not interested or didn?t like the content, it was okay to zone out (or similar wording) and what that might be: going to sleep, reading, but not talking to your neighbour. They repeated that bit.

There were two presenters there. One looked non-conservative by her dress and hairstyle. She?s off to get married soon but didn?t say to whom.

It?s very clever and mostly subtle but the overuse of the word ?gender? and the specific association of ?violence? with ?male emotion? is the same as the Gillette ad. If one likes the ad, one will like the Mates&Dates.

Like with most things, the facts are facts, but it’s the context in which they are presented that’s the pernicious part. Discussion would have been about the facts and I think most kids would not go deeper and question the context they were presented in.

To me there seemed to be two core ideas.

  1. Everything is about gender.
  2. The male gender is worse (violent) in emotional situations.

I wish I could have sat through a few of these lessons to give more comprehensive feedback but, based on what I witnessed during those 30 minutes, this is my impression of the programme.