An Un-gendered Classroom?

March 31, 2013 | Comments Off on An Un-gendered Classroom?

 

Image Source: shrabay.wikispaces.com

 

Gender stereo-typing and role shaping is still just as prominent today, as it was in the 20thCentury; however, because we are now recognizing the problems and inequalities in this type of thinking, sexist ideas and views are more subtle and understated. Teachers in today’s classrooms do not realize when they are reinforcing gendered thinking because their gendered thinking has been reinforced. Because we are doing this, we are passing down gender rituals and our interpretation of them. Because we are now recognizing that we are treating boys and girls differently in the classroom, there has been a push for single-sex education. This has received negative feedback and has been criticized as reinforcing gendered thinking in a different way, that we need to treat them differently.

It is important to understand that the key player in the classroom is the teacher, while teachers may carry their own gendered behaviors or thinking with them they should remain professional enough not to place this gendered thinking on the students in their classroom. Because this is something that is carried with us and is constantly being reinforced or challenged, it is hard to change someone’s way of thinking if they have been doing it since they were born.

What we must look to next are the textbooks, programs, and resources we are using to teach our children. Gender bias in textbooks back up what our society is telling us, that men will continue to be valiant, strong, and aggressive and women will remain to be the passive, pretty, caretakers. This hidden curriculum is influenced by gender stereotypes and does not accurately depict women and minorities through what is being taught. In Julia T. Wood’s book, Gendered lives: Communication, Gender and Culture, it describes that “The Enlightenment is taught as a time when reason ascended as the surest route to truth and human progress. The Enlightenment is not taught as a time when women were considered inferior because they were assumed to have limited capacity to reason.”

This can be said for not only how we depict The Enlightenment, but for how we depict much of our standardized education in public schools. Excluding the treatment of women and minorities in textbooks as well as excluding, over-looking, or misrepresenting achievements, stresses gender inequality. What can we do to change this way of thinking? How can we accurately, and justly teach the children in our public school system?

By searching for fair and objective materials for the classroom we can step forward in the direction of further blurring the gender lines. “Gender-fair materials need to acknowledge and affirm variation. They need to be inclusive, accurate, affirmative, representative, and integrated, weaving together the experiences, needs and interests of both males and females.”(Baily, 1992) If we look at the resources we are using to teach our children and they represent both genders equally as well as suggest a progressive approach, we may be able to decrease the amount of gender socialization that occurs in the classroom.

Behavior on the teacher’s part is only one factor that influences the gendered thinking of students within the classroom it is reinforced subtly by the hidden curriculum often subconsciously embedded in our textbooks and required reading. If we learn to understand and recognize this gendered education, we are able to access and change the materials to be used for the classroom, ultimately taking a step towards and UN-gendered classroom.

Sources:

Bailey, S. (1992) How Schools Shortchange Girls: The AAUW Report. New York, NY: Marlowe & Company.

Wood, J.T (2009) Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender and Culture. 8th Edition. Boston, MA: Wadsworth

 

My Mom, Wonder Woman, and the evil seven-year-old girls.

February 3, 2013 | Comments Off on My Mom, Wonder Woman, and the evil seven-year-old girls.

During the first eight years of my life, my father was on and off of sea duty at the United States Naval Air Base in Jacksonville, Florida, right around where I grew up. Because my father was gone so often, I was put into a day-care center for summer and after school to help my mother while my father was away. During this time, my peers and their beliefs and actions of what they thought to be “acceptable for a girl” socialized me and helped me to formulate my own beliefs, evening affecting my own actions. My largest influence, despite N*Sync and bell-bottom jeans, were my own parents- my little family of three. While my father was away, I would often see my mother as the “enforcer,” even still to this day. A role that was often played by my father was now being played by my mother, something that was completely normal to me- just as normal as it was to see my father vacuum, cook dinner, and do the laundry whenever he was home- this was how my family worked, until one day at day-care I was told I was wrong.

Talking to other children, they couldn’t understand why my father cooked dinner and why my mother did not. I tried to explain to them that that’s how our family worked; my parents know how to do a lot of things. I loved learning skills about how to make scrambled eggs from my father and then how to stain wood from my mother- there were no gender limitations in my household. I think what is important to take from this is that no matter how much work my father helped my mother with around the house whenever he was home, it would not matter come time for deployment. Six months without him there, caring for a child, dealing with distance, while working a full time job. My mother is wonder woman, not just my mother, but lots of peoples mother and fathers.  What resources do these Wonder Women, and Men have? The Spouses’ Club is one excellent resource, connecting these men and women and becoming the community of help.

While this community exists, we still cannot neglect the different views that they hold- making many military spouses hesitant to join. Women and men such as Leanne from SpouseBUZZ.com who is the wife of a Marine blogged about whether to “club” at all or not with these Spouses’ clubs- they are independently operated from the base making it possible for them to deny access to gay couples. Couples such as Ashley Broadway and Heather Mack; Ashley was denied accessto The Fort Bragg Officers’ Spouses’ Club because she could not legally obtain a military I.D card.

The Treasure Island President of the Wives’ Club- Photo courtesy of: http://oldbluejacket.com/treasureisland.htm

By not allowing her to join, they are reinforcing their values and beliefs- that they do not support gay marriage.  In a sense, the wives’ club was often against women joining the military, holding sexist views of women; they would deny access to Men’s memberships.

I dare say that both of these instances- being gendered in both of these communities, the day-care, and Spouses’ Club derive from the Social Learning Theory.  The Social Learning Theory explains that people act the way they do because they have imitated the behavior of someone else and gotten a positive response from it. Often why women in these Wives’ and Spouses’ clubs hold the views that they hold- it is also why it makes sense that Day care would shape these views for me. I was learning and imitating the behaviors of others around me to seek their approval of what is socially acceptable or not. Women or men joining the Spouses’ Clubs are learning from older spouses’ how to handle and deal with being a military spouse.

This theory brings me back to my original problem, whenever I was told I was wrong. Because I had seen my mother enacting a masculine role within our household as well as my father enacting a feminine role, I was stressed to be androgynous. Through playing with the little girls at the day-care, they stressed to me how to be a girl- telling me that they way that my parents operated was not right. While I was being gendered from day-care, I was also being “un-gendered” at home, watching my parents break the rules that these seven-year-olds had placed on them.

“Girls don’t wear ties!”

January 22, 2013 | Comments Off on “Girls don’t wear ties!”

Hello, there! My name is Lauren Ginder and I am a Junior attending Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia! I am currently a Communication Studies major with a concentration in Public relations and a minor in Women and Gender Studies. My permanent home is in Virginia Beach but it’s hard not to call Farmville my home because it’s where my heart resides! In my past 3 years at this beautiful University, I have been involved with 91.3 WMLU as a DJ and Lancer Productions as the Comedy and Novelty director.

Communication has always been a near and dear importance in my life. I have gained the knowledge from my excellent Communication studies classes to learn that language is arbitrary and ambiguous. The meanings of words are constantly shifting and changing making communication a malleable field. I have learned that through my own understanding of language a flame has emerged as desire- desire to know more and grow more in this ever-changing field. I have become inspired in my own personal life to push boundaries and social norms as a result of this.

Gender has always puzzled me. One of my earliest childhood memories is of being inside of a clothing store with my Grandmother’s neighbor’s son and his Mom. As we walked through the aisles, we came across the biggest aisle I had ever seen- filled with colorful, elaborate ties. I remember exclaiming aloud that I wanted to wear a tie and immediately being shot down by his mother “Girls don’t wear ties!” I never understood why I wasn’t allowed- yes, society said that I couldn’t but why was it that I wasn’t allowed?  Ever since then, I haven’t stopped asking questions about gender.  This semester my thirst is for the knowledge of gender in communications. I hope that this course teaches me about how we perceive others in the light of gender, as well as pushes me well beyond my comfort zone.

Hold on folks, this could get bumpy.