There are a lot of things in this life that give you status - academic qualifications, speaking a foreign language, being married, being a parent, number of children, your job or career, wealth, your house, your car, your smart phone (tablet, etc), beauty, who you know (admit it), outstanding talent, popularity, being funny, being well-read or widely knowledgeable (or being able to fake it), playing a musical instrument (smart phones don't count), playing sport (not wii sport, real sport) or doing athletics of any kind, being slim (sad but true), etc, etc. I'm sure you can think of more.
I am not married but I have a few of the other status markers you see above. I won't list them but they are enough for me to feel confident and worthwhile among my peers, colleagues and students. Or so I thought.
In Israel, in order to get any first Degree you need to reach a certain level in English. This includes reading academic articles. Reading academic articles in a foreign language!? Unless it's about a subject you have a passion for, reading academic articles in your first language is tough enough. For many students, English is the thing they most fear in higher education. It is the biggest obstacle to graduating for them. Obviously they hate it.
I teach in an all women's Teacher Training College which largely caters to the religiously orthodox. Not ultra-orthodox but very traditionally orthodox nonetheless. For example, most of the students get engaged and married during the first year of studies. In the second year most of the students have their hair covered and many are pregnant. By the third year there are babies in childcare or being quietly fed at the back of the classroom.
Today I met with a student who had to present her final project to me in order to pass the final course in English. She isn't even a student anymore. She finished all her courses last year and was given an additional semester to complete the English requirement. And she fought it all the way. I won't go into details but as the personification of her suffering, I was not her favourite teacher in the college.
As I was rushing out of my apartment to get to college on time for our meeting, I suddenly stopped at the door. Then I ran back into my bedroom, grabbed my late aunt's wedding ring (which my cousin gave me for DD as she is the only girl in the family among the male cousins of her generation), and placed it firmly on my left ring finger. Then I ran off to meet my student.
I knew exactly what I was doing. I was feeling nervous - not so much of the student but of my ability to leave my ego at the door and be generous in my assessment. What I'm not sure about is why I did this.
The meeting went much better than expected. The student was more relaxed for having got to the end of the course requirements and we chatted a bit first to establish a nice atmosphere. I even enjoyed it. She passed and went away overjoyed.
I don't know if she noticed my 'wedding ring' at all.