Reflection from Presenting to Lower School PE Classes

As a part of the end of my project, I presented to groups of both third and fifth graders. My presentation was about 20 minutes long and I aimed to promote discussion about sexism in athletics. I started by trying to get the kids warmed up, asking them to share out what sports they play. After, I talked about some awesome alum and current students that I talked to! All around the board, the kids I talked to seemed most impressed when I told them that Eleanor Hulse (’18) had a PR of 5’2″, and that the record was 5’3″ by Elise Wilcox (’11), then stood up and showed them where that hit on me. Kids would shout, “Woah!” or their mouths would drop and their eyes widen. That was awesome! After that, I brought it to the meat of my presentation – talking about sexism in sports. I first asked them, “What are some examples of times where you’ve been underestimated because you’re a girl, or if you’re a boy some times you’ve noticed that happen?” With the third grade, this section was harder to get participation

¬†from the kids. The first group, I just asked them to share out loud, and two girls were willing to talk. But when I asked the next group to turn to a partner and talked, they were much more willing to share out after. The boys still seemed pretty engaged at this point. The third grade girls surprised me a bit in the sorts of things they noticed. Most of the comments seemed to be along the lines of, “A boy told me he bet I couldn’t do something but then I showed him!” One comment a girl made talked about how, on her ski team, the boys seemed to almost always get the front positions on their lines. That’s more nuanced than the comments boys tend to make!

When I talked to the fifth grade, the boys seemed less engaged. The girls, however, were incredibly excited to talk about these sorts of things! I had awesome discussions with some passionate girls about the struggles they’ve gone through as girls in their sports, ranging from boys not passing to them, to boys telling them that they “kick like a girl,” all the way to talking about how society doesn’t always tell us these things directly. How society implies that girls are worse at sports. While I was presenting, I got so excited about this discussion because I know how important talking about these things is! My groups were very engaged and so confident in sharing, which I really appreciate! I continued by starting a discussion on the ways we can work to combat these sorts of situations, so everyone can have equal opportunities to play sports, and finished with the reasons we love playing our sports. Even as I was packing up, I heard two girls heading over to Tami H., the P.E. teacher, still talking about the ways they wish sports were more equal. I really hope the discussion continues to exist as they finish the year and grow up!

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