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Monday, February 6, 2012

Typical Things You Learn At A Museum

Wow, I truly apologize for my blog absence, but life has been busy and genderconfusion pretty slow. 

Luckily, after prodding my friend for a story, I got this bundle of joy:

I am a queer lady museum educator with short hair. Usually I'm responsible for elementary and middle school groups coming to the museum, but on this particular day I was graced by the presence of 20 smiling 4 year olds.  After a brief conversation in the lobby about our super special museum rules and about animals that we'd be looking for in the museum we stood up and got into our best "museum walk" posture.

Heading for the galleries, I turned around to hear a tiny little voice coming from the wriggling bunch:

“Are you a boy or a girl?” (I'd just introduced myself as Becky)

“I am a girl.”

“But you have a boy haircut!”

“Well I'm a girl and I have short hair because that's how I like it but sometimes that confuses people.”

“My name is Michaela and I'm a girl because I have short hair!” she said pulling at two of her tiny braids. (Note the ‘because’!)

“See! We all have different hairstyles today and when you grow up you can choose your hairstyle like I did.”

A round of other voices chimed in sharing their hair length/color/type.

Now, despite the fact that they were barely 4 years old and seemingly confused about their current environment, their overzealous teacher wanted me to introduce new vocab words: galleries, exhibitions, visitors, and educator.  Educator seemed simple enough…I had just introduced myself as Becky, their educator for the day. After a visit at each object their teacher would prompt, "And what is Becky’s job here?" Blank stares. "She is an Ed...?" One adorable smartie pants remembered it sounded like gator. The teacher pushed, "Educator! Let's repeat it"


We moved on to the last object where I told a story and thanked them for joining me at the museum. The teacher prompted one last time, "and Becky is a...?"

The smiling, wriggling bunch chanted back in unison "GIRL!"

With that four letter word they caused the parent chaperones to laugh, their teacher to stutter and blush, but I was brought to my knees...well figuratively since we were all sitting 'cris-cross applesauce'. With a huge smile and just a couple of appreciative tears, I answered "That's right, and an educator."

After four vocab words, three art objects, two galleries, and one story about the Hindu god Ganesh, they couldn't recall educator BUT they knew I was a girl! Now that's quality education.

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