Anyone who’s ever had the pleasure of looking for a job in the teaching field in the U.S. lately knows that K-12 teachers nowadays are expected to be “highly qualified.”
Highly qualified is a term that got coined in the No Child Left Behind legislation fifteen years ago and it is defined using three qualifications:
- Has at least a Bachelor’s degree
- Possesses full state certification or licensure
- Can prove that they know every subject they teach
Back in 2009 I graduated from University of Hawaii with a Bachelor’s of Education with a focus in Secondary Mathematics. I passed my Praxis test shortly afterwards, proving that I know the subject. I am certified in the State of Arizona.
I am highly qualified to teach…
Problem is, I keep getting called upon to teach a heap of subjects I don’t feel at all qualified for.
Take tutoring, one of my jobs is contract work as a tutor to adults with disabilities. My very first client was in a diesel mechanics program. My solution when things break? Cry until a man fixes it. My company has assigned me a handful of wanna-be CDL drivers. Yet I’ve never managed to successfully parallel park my civic. The playful banter around the office when they first assigned me a cosmetology client was rife with jokes about how I didn’t even know how to apply lipstick. And when I showed up the first time to meet my machining client, I wasn’t at all clear on what “machining” was. Some kind of repair work, perhaps? Over and over again, I’ve been thrust into teaching situations where I had to rely on my ability to find patterns, cling to Google like a life-line, and spend hours studying an unfamiliar subject at night in order to translate it and simplify it for my client the next morning.
But where’s the manual on femininity?
I am no expert, yet I’m raising four young ladies, ages 12-17, and they’re looking at me to teach them what it means to be a woman. Me!
I have no proof that I know this subject. I’m the one who spent 20 years rejecting all things soft and pink. The one who cloaked herself in bitterness and rage. The one who breaks out into a nervous sweat at the thought of the annual ladies’ tea. The one who stands a head above and a hip beyond virtually every other woman she meets and feels too big to be allowed. The graceless one who trips over nothing and walks into walls. The one who has been mistaken for a drag-queen no less than three times! I’m supposed to model to four girls what femininity looks like?
Forget highly qualified; I feel woefully inadequate. How exactly does one go about being a woman well?
My logical, pattern loving brain could derive an algorithm for womanhood from the culture around me:
This is not what I have in mind for my girls.
My old friend Google is awash with opinions on what it means to be a woman…
…but there is no definitive answer among the first few pages of the 335 million results Google spit out.
So I am left with reading up on the subject and head straight to the originator of womanhood, the God who created them man and woman, to learn what it means to be a woman. Scripture, specifically Proverbs 31, has a lot to say about what excellent femininity looks like.
It is here I find something worth teaching these beautiful ladies I’ve been entrusted to raise.
A woman is capable and hard-working…
She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks. Proverbs 31:17
A woman invests wisely…
She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. Proverbs 31:16
She sees that her trading is profitable Proverbs 31:18a
A woman is generous and compassionate…
She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy. Proverbs 31:20
A woman cares for her family…
When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet. Proverbs 31:21
She watches over the affairs of her household Proverbs 31:27a
A woman takes pride in the way she presents herself…
She is clothed in fine linen and purple. Proverbs 31:22b
A woman is an entrepreneur…
She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes. Proverbs 31:24
A woman is strong in body, mind, and character…
She is clothed with strength and dignity Proverbs 31:25
A woman faces life’s difficulties and uncertainties with humor…
She can laugh at the days to come. Proverbs 31:25b
A woman is sage…
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26
A woman fears the Lord…
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30
Ah, now that I can teach!