Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Awareness of Gender Equity

I thought that the presenters today did great! They clearly put a lot of work into researching their topic of “Gender in the Classroom” and did a great job of conveying their knowledge. They did a great job of increasing my awareness of gender creation and solidification in the classroom. This is something that teachers should definitely be made aware of because a lot of the time the teacher’s actions are done unconsciously. It was great that this presentation made me aware of all of the ways that I was encouraging or discouraging gender equity in my own teaching experience.

One of the issues that they discussed was how teachers unconsciously pay more attention to the boys in their class than the girls. I definitely noticed this in my PS II; however, I was consciously doing it to an extent. In my grade nine class of 50 students, seven students had Individual Program Plans (IPP), all of which were boys. In addition, I had three Knowledge and Employability (K & E) students. Again, all three were boys. That being said, it was my job to provide more attention to these students and to check more often for their understanding. In addition, during times when we were working on assignments, the girls more often would ask me questions to see if they were going in the right direction while the boys did not. Thus, I would often check in with all groups anyway. Perhaps these reasons may skew the results a little bit, although, I consciously tried to treat everyone the same overall.

Perhaps I am just being optimistic but I don’t think that gender equity is quite as big of an issue as it was when we entered school. There are so many women who have jobs now and I am sure that young students recognize that. I also think that there is a lot of literature available that has both male and female protagonists. Although gender equity should be considered, I also feel as thought it can go too far in the other direction by focusing all of our attention on making everything equal when we should be focused on student interests. In or society, it is often frowned upon for a woman to stay at home, relying on her husband to make the money. Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy that I am able to go to school, get a degree, and have a career in education but I would also love to stay home and be with my [future] kids and watch them grow up. That is just not as likely to happen nowadays and it is not something that women are encouraged to do. But is it so wrong?

As a future teacher, I would like to think I can change the world. However, with regards to gender roles, it is very hard for us to change the interests and values in our students. Until children start living at school, the parents still have a big influence in their lives and will learn gender roles from them. In addition, as our presenters showed us, students are exposed to many gender stereotypes in the media. Making students aware of gender equity may help them understand it better.

Students should all be treated as individuals and should be encouraged to pursue their unique interests whether they follow gender stereotypes or not. If a girl is interested in reading books about princesses and a boy is interested in reading books about cars, they should not be discouraged (this would work the other way of course). We should have many opportunities available to both boys and girls and we should not push them in any specific direction. We should help them understand that they have many opportunities and that they should make the choices that best appeal to them.

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