Shallowater ISD Should Let Me Sub In for ‘Courtly Love’
Recently, Shallowater ISD came under fire for an assignment that was supposedly intended to teach, as the assignment itself states "chivalry" and "courtly love." Instead, it was a misogynistic and gauche exercise intended to teach the girls of the class to appease men because their grade depended on it.
Seriously, who thought this was a good idea?
Apparently, students also had the option to write an essay, but let's be really honest here: 9 out of 10 kids would find an essay to be punitive for not participating, and every teacher I ever had always graded those alternative assignments harshly as a big 'f you' to the kid that didn't want to play ball. I know, I always opted to write the essay.
Here's the thing. Women have been expected to be subservient to men throughout most of human history. Why make that the main, and apparently only, focus when teaching courtly love and chivalry?
I feel like I must interject here to state that the chivalric code was primarily focused on male behavior. It was arguably created to give young men an outlet to "love" women, in an effort to prevent homosexuality amongst close-knit aristocratic youths. Fun Fact: Sir Gowan and the Green Night is heavily coded as homosexual, so no need to marginalize those folks either.
I had the great honor of learning about medieval literature and the culture surrounding it from Dr. Brian McFadden at Texas Tech University. He's absolutely brilliant and knows his stuff. He never once asked the women in his class to bake pastries or bow our heads. Instead, we read literature written by, get this, women in the medieval era.
I would love to sub in for a class and talk about Marie de France. She wrote about and from the Court, and her poems are exciting and fun. She writes about Arthurian legend, which was wildly popular at the time, and about the supernatural, like fairies and even werewolves. Why didn't these kids get the option to be werewolves? Many women in her tales are the ones in control and driving the action. Much like the real like Eleanor of Aquitaine, a woman who arguably defined Courtly Love and was the matriarch of the Plantagenet dynasty, a family that would rule England for 300 years.
So I really just have to ask Shallowater ISD: could y'all not find a history teacher that wasn't a coach or something? (Actually, it makes me feel bad to say that, most coaches are more educated than that.)
UPDATE: In the interest of fairness, there was a similar (but decidedly less demanding) male counterpart to this assignment. It still didn't really have anything to do with courtly love, besides reading poetry. Remember, courtly love and chivalry are so much more than mere manners, and there's simply never a good reason to reinforce BS patriarchal ideals