"Okay," I said. "Take a minute and jot down the questions that occurred to you as you read this passage."
They stared at me.
"You can consult your reading notes if you want."
Blink. A hand. "What's a reading note?"
"The notes you took in the margins or in your notebook as you read the passage for today."
Blink. Blink. "What kind of questions?"
"The questions that naturally occurred to you, as a thinking being, as you read a provocative and interesting passage."
Blink. Shrug. Scribble scribble.
"Okay, let's put some on the board."
Hand up. "What does he say about women?"
"Um. Well. That's kind of -- the whole thing. And it's she, not he."
"For example, perhaps I might ask, 'what does she mean by a "rational" education. Is there an irrational education?'"
"Let's start with that one. What do you think, in light of the other things we read. What did 'rational' probably mean to her?"
"Do you think we mean the same thing when we say 'rational'?"
And then, to my shame, I broke: "SOMEONE FUCKING ANSWER ME!"
Immediately I felt like a goddamned failure. And then --
"I think they kind of, like, idolize rationality."
"Yeah, but they use rationality to justify things like sexism."
"Not her. She's saying there's a higher kind of rationality."
"She's claiming rationality for women, not just for men."
"Yeah, but isn't rationality, I mean, like, for her, sort of a masculine thing?"
"No, it's universal."
"But only men get a real education."
"She's trying to change that."
. . .
What the hell? If I suck as a teacher, they start thinking?