Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A doll to teach about Title IX

The American Girl company is releasing a new doll (with accompanying books and accessories) next week. Each doll in the series comes from a particular time and place and the books about her reflect the period (and her "station" in life though I do not know how much the books address this).
The new American Girl is Julie Albright and she is from the 1970s. She is white and seemingly middle class. She has an Asian-American friend, Ivy, who will also be arriving in doll form next week. She lives in San Francisco, has divorced parents, celebrates Earth Day, listens to the Beatles, and goes out for the boys' basketball team.
Yes, the stories will specifically address Title IX and how it allows Julie to try out and play on the basketball team. The American Girl people specifically have cited the need for girls of the current generation to know that their ability to play sport was not always without struggle.
Until the books actually come out, we won't know how they address Title IX. But teaching some of its history may create a curious knowledge gap among the generations. At the Title IX conference in Cleveland last spring we heard educators and administrators ask about the lack of awareness the current college generation has about how women gained access to sports. I don't know how ubiquitous these dolls or the books are, but it's possible that many 7-12-year olds will know more about Title IX than some 20-somethings.

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