Cover Story: How Does Your Garden Grow?

A teacher tends to the future

May 9, 2002 at 2:06 pm
Lisa Bialac

In Deane Blaise's Indian Hill classroom, Abercrombie and Fitch are not British novelists.

When most people think of women teachers, they see another woman forced into the pink-collar ghetto. Despite progress, women often still are seen as childcare providers, domestics and nursemaids.

Teachers, however, are no longer "classroom moms" or glorified babysitters. It's a profession requiring skills not found in textbooks or classrooms but more readily in practical experience, empathy and common sense.

Today, more than ever, teachers are the gardeners of our society. Teachers grow the minds of children.

Deane Blaise is one of these new gardeners. An English teacher at Indian Hill High School, she isn't just planting the seeds of the future but finding new ways to prune back outdated traditional school values.

Blaise struggled with becoming a teacher. She saw the profession as just another job women are conditioned to enter. A sharp woman with stronger ideas, she weeded out the old, brittle reading list from her class curriculum.

"The academic literary list is completely biased (against) women's writing," Blaise says. "The so-called standard is nothing but an attempt of the male academically elite to compare the few women writers to traditional male dominated classical literature."

Blaise is by no means against the classics, but she recognizes new media that are just as important in the study English as classical literature. She's begun teaching e-mail writing, as well as the art of filmmaking.

According to her, family values and the power of mistakes are the source of her ideas. Further, teaching is powerful because it means shaping the world in which she lives.

And if women ran the world?

"Things would be a little less biased," Blaise says, "but other than that we would still probably be the same."