Views / Opinion

Class geared to girls at Alberta school should teach more life skills — like marrying rich: Mochama

The new "Women Studies" class at Eleanor Hall School teaches girls hair styling and dinner party planning, among other things. Why stop there, asks Vicky Mochama.

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Teachers are everyday heroes. I am glad one Canadian teacher was just rewarded with a $1-million prize and global praise for her work in a remote Inuit school. But there are yet more heroes whose work needs to be acknowledged, including a teacher in Clyde, Alta., who has launched a Women Studies class to help young girls navigate the teen years.

At first, I thought it would offer the things I most needed as an awkward teen, like how to make medieval armour and influence people. But this isn’t your standard women’s studies class about deconstructing power and oppression (bor-ing).

Instead, the course teaches girls in Grades 6 to 9 how “self-improvement techniques,” like choosing flattering hair styles and wardrobes, can “enhance their natural beauty and express confidence without over-shadowing who they are,” according to the school’s newsletter.

The course is part of the school’s career and technology foundation program, naturally.

More Views from Vicky:

Learning the best hairstyles to frame your face is a female survival skill; it prevents one from crying at a hair salon, which is a sign of weakness that the salon will pounce on to sell you expensive high-end products.

And after all, how is a girl supposed to Lean In with bangs that cloud her vision?

These skills should be part of a full complement of courses to enhance a girl’s education. In fact, more schools should offer them. Here’s an idea: “Microeconomics and the art of spotting a marriageable high net worth individual.” Of course, business acumen is not just about the numbers, but also the soft skills, which would require a class like “Language Arts: how to deflect praise away from yourself.”

And in all honesty, if we are going to teach high self-esteem to girls via online shopping best practices, we can’t forget about the boys.

Like the novelist and feminist Chimamanda Adichie says: “Why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage, and we don’t teach boys the same?” Where is their course on the mechanical engineering of a wedding bustle?

The afternoon the Clyde girls spend on nail care and application should be a prerequisite for a high school diploma for boys. And in my experience, more than a few boys could have used lessons in other elements of the course, like table settings, dinner party etiquette and polite conversation.

The latter may not seem like the most pressing thing over, say, math and geography, but hold your judgement until you find yourself at a house party talking to a 44-year-old man about all of his March Madness picks and the rationales behind them.

Would that he could instead speak intelligently on the challenges of being a female in today’s world.

I believe the children are our future, and I want their dinner parties to sparkle.

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