This is a great way to start conversation on changing gender norms for your class. I am not sure where the original first came from but I have seen this on a couple of sites on the Internet. I use this spark conversations about changing gender norms in America and the world.
A word of caution. This can spark fierce conversation but it is really great to first have the class read through it. Then have them talk about if they agree with any of the points in the article. After I have them create their own modern set of rules for both men and women.
If you have a class that is mixed sex it is sometimes good to have them break into groups of men and women and have the different groups write a modern list for the opposite sex.
Look Out! Spirited Conversations Ahead
Excerpts from a 1950 Home Economics Textbook
Get your work done: Plan your tasks with an eye on the clock. Finish or interrupt them an hour before he is expected. Your anguished cry, “Are you home already?” is not exactly a warm welcome.
Have dinner ready: Plan ahead even the night before to have a delicious meal –on time. ‘This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospects of a good meal are part of the warm welcome needed.
Prepare yourself: Take 15 minutes to rest so you will be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people. Be a little gay and a little more interesting. His boring day may need a lift.
Clear away the clutter: Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives, gathering up school books, toys, paper, etc. Then run a dust cloth over the tables. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too.
Prepare the children: Take just a few minutes to wash the children’s hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair and, if necessary, change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part.
Minimize all noise: At the time of his arrival, eliminate noise of washer, dryer, dishwasher, or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet.
Be happy to see him: Greet him with a warm smile and act glad to see him.
Some don’ts: Don’t greet him with problems or complaints. Don’t complain if he’s late for dinner. Count this as minor compared with what he might have gone through that day.
Make him comfortable: Have him lean back into a comfortable chair or suggest he lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him. Arrange his pillow and offer to massage his neck and shoulders and take off his shoes. Speak in a soft, soothing, pleasant voice. Allow him to relax — to unwind.
Listen to him: You may have a dozen things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time Let him talk first.
Make the evening his: Never complain if he does not take you out to dinner or to other places of entertainment. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure, his need to be home and relax.
The goal: Try to make your home a place of peace and order where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.
I Think You Can See Why This May Be a Sensitive Topic
Before you use this particular ESL discussion starter you should judge your classes ability to deal with this subject. My students loved to talk about controversial topics and this one really got them going. The girls really enjoyed writing new rules for the men.
But you should be aware of their ability to have a discussion of this type. The last thing you want to do is start a fight in class, so keep it lighthearted.
I Will Share Some More Hot Topics in the Future
Some content is timeless and controversial ESL topics are some of the best for an exciting and enjoyable class.
Good luck with this and remember as always to keep it light, because Teaching English is Fun!