Column One: Curriculum

By Debra Viadero — March 18, 1992 2 min read

School driver-education programs foster sexist stereotypes of women, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin at Madison has concluded.

Mimi Orner, a lecturer in women’s studies and educational-policy studies, has studied 75 films, textbooks, and pamphlets produced for driver-education programs over the past 50 years.

Overwhelmingly, she found, the drivers depicted in those materials are white males. The textbooks often picture a woman, however, when describing the dangers of daydreaming while driving.

She found a frequently recurring image in the films was of a female driver talking with a passenger and paying little attention to the road. Women are also depicted simultaneously trying to drive and look in their rearview mirrors as they put on lipstick.

A new national hot line was launched earlier this year for teachers who believe their methods or curricula are under attack from the so-called “far right.’'

Begun by Carole Edelsky, a professor of curriculum and instruction at Arizona State University, the hot line is intended to provide information for embattled teachers and to link them with other educators who have volunteered to offer advice.

“We were hearing about increasing attacks across the country over phonics, ungraded classrooms, global education, and a whole range of issues,’' she said. While the disputes may not all be politically motivated, Ms. Edelsky said she sees the influence of the far right in many of them.

The Center for the Expansion of Language and Thinking--a national, nonprofit group of teacher-educators whose members include leading whole-language theorists--is funding the hot line.

The telephone number is: (602) 929-0929. Volunteers must call back collect.

An international foundation that supports paleontological research has launched a new venture to educate children and their teachers about the rapidly growing body of knowledge about dinosaurs.

The Dinosaur Club is designed to teach children ages 5 to 12 about the nature of the scientific enterprise and to correct popular misconceptions about dinosaurs, as well as to keep teachers current on the latest developments in the field.

An annual membership in the club--which includes 12 monthly issues of a newsletter called The Dino Times--costs $19.95 with an additional $3 discount to educators.

For more information, write to the club at 338 Elm St., South Dartmouth, Mass. 02748, or call (508) 990-8808.

A version of this article appeared in the March 18, 1992 edition of Education Week as Column One: Curriculum