Today we celebrated our sixth “research day” at my college (The College of Management Academic Studies). This day reminds me of the American invention of "show and tell". It taught my daughters, from an early age, how to prepare a topic and present it clearly to an audience.
We do the same in our college, once a year, for 7.5 minutes thirty five researchers from different disciplines share their research projects with their colleagues.
The inspiration for this format of short lectures came to the organizer, in our Research Authority from Ted, and it works perfectly. While we enjoy a short lecture about an unfamiliar topic, a much longer one could be boring.
Since we are a business college and not a research university many members of the faculty work at “real” jobs as accountants, economists, lawyers architects and journalists, the research day allows those of us who stay inside the college to hear exciting news from the outside world. Also as the the reality of a lecturer/researcher is usually lonely, on research day we have an excuse to socialize with our colleagues.
My presentation was about literature; I talked about the section “Mother Tells you How” in the 1950s British Girl (you could find a lot of material about Girl in my site on Red Room) Girl was a magazine for secondary school girls which was founded by Reverend Marcus Morris in 1951 as a sister Magazine to the boys' magazine Eagle. While Eagle was all comics, Girl had both text and comics.
For feminists, Girl had a promising start, the cover of its first issue featured a strip comics of Kitty Hawke a girl Pilot. The magazine itself showed an image of brave and resourceful women and girls through stories and pictures.
But gradually, mostly because of failing sales, the magazine became more traditional and feminine. One indication of that change was the new section Mother Tells You How. It features mother –competent, feminine and elegant and young, and Judy her daughter of about 12—14 who is eager to learn from her mother. The mother teaches Judy all the necessary practical skills for a young woman -- how to cook, to knit, to saw, paint and even how to build shelves. The mother is a source of knowledge; she teaches Judy how to do everything in the house and around it.
The section was very popular with the readers; an obvious reason was that the mothers were those who gave their daughter the money to buy the magazine and they were delighted to be featured in such a positive way. But I feel that Marcus Morris, the editor, had a more pedagogical reason for making the mother a heroine and a role model. Adolescence is an age when girls naturally fight with their mothers, but they still need their guidance. “Mother Tells you How” finds a way to circumvent the conflict and empower the mother by giving her a specific, but limited, role. She guides the daughter in practical matters while keeping a respectful distance from the emotional world of the adolescent. She teaches her daughter on how to approach a task, follow directions, execute and complete a project successfully. Using "show and tell" she also conveys to her daughter, subtly, what it means to grow up to be an accomplished woman in 1950s Britain.
A link to my pp presentation