I found Adrienne Rich’s speech “Claiming an Education” to raise many good points. There are still obvious issues concerning women in education. I think one of the main points that Rich spoke about was the importance of women to be active rather than passive. This, I believe can be applied to all parts of life. In education, athletics, politics, and other career paths women need to assert themselves. Personally, I believe that only once a woman is able to acknowledge her own worthiness will she possess the strength or desire to speak up for herself. A female student who is surrounded by intelligent males, and facing a male professor, may feel inadequate which in turn will likely impede her ability to participate or express original ideas to the class. In general I think that anyone, whether male or female, must have enough pride or feelings of worth in order to stand up for what he or she believes is correct.
I believe that another issue that accompanies this is the reality that the media has reinforced a stereotype of women that focuses on physical and passive attributes. Rich brought up this issue as well, explaining that rather than teaching girls to be proud of their intelligence and respect their minds, the media teaches girls to look, behave and think in a specific manner.
I think that it is thus most valuable to teach girls at a young age their adequacy. Women need to gain pride as well as confidence in their ability to think for themselves. One place to implement these values, that I would consider appropriate, would be in elementary or middle school systems. The only type of women’s education that I attained during this time period, or even high school, was of sex education. I do not remember any lesson on the power of women or the pride that should be associated with being female. This may have been because I was at a public, coed school. There may not have been the funding or desire to create a separate curriculum designed to teach women to respect themselves. Still, I question if there are courses like this nationally, and whether these courses have positive outcomes. Personally, I think it would be interesting to see how elementary or middle school curriculums similar to this could affect a women’s respect towards herself and feelings of worth.