A recent discussion within a group of moms with children in the public school system shared how they felt discouraged by what they viewed as influences towards particular studies that seemed more based on gender stereotypes vs. actual aptitude in the subject(s). For example, one parent of a 11 year old boy shared that her son absolutely loved to write... journaling creative stories, developing complete plot lines and characters, etc. His teachers, however, for the past two years have continued to push for his parents to pursue placement in a math/science magnet school in his high school years. Her son loathes math with a passion, but when she mentioned trying for the literature/arts magnet school instead she received discouragement.
Another parent - of a 13 yr. old girl, weighed in with the exact opposite experience. Her child was enrolled in another school; loved science and swears that she wants to be a veterinarian in the future. (She even volunteers for an animal shelter now.) Rather than encourage her dream, the mom shared that her daughter in continually persuaded to pursue an arts/literature based path.
Both of these parents and others insist that there is a definite gender stereotype influence within the school system (even if unintentional.)
The debate question is whether you (either personally, with your own kids, or by observing family/friends) do believe that gender stereotypes still are influencing how teachers react and encourage students today?
IF you feel that this is taking place, would you be a supporter then for sole gender classrooms (i.e. all girls; all boys) in hopes of enabling students to be more "well-rounded"? Why or why not?
This has been happening sicne the beginning of the school system. I think things have gotten better but there is no reason to think it is gone completely.
I think sole gender education is fabulous, but I think it should be a choice.
I teach at the elementary level and I really don't see gender stereotypes influencing students in any way. I teach the required standards and encourage all children to pursue what makes them happy.
As a high school student I never felt pushed in one direction or another. I remember being strongly encouraged to attend college, but that's the only form of pressure I really felt from my teachers and administration.
I can't say that gender stereotyping never occurs in any of our schools, but I'd like to think that it doesn't happen often.
Gender stereotyping was incredibly common and accepted in my middle/high school. Then again, I went to a private conservative Christian school, so that is probably not surprising.
I'm ALL for single sex education and would love it if it were an option in our public schools. I agree with Lana though that it should be a choice.
I can't really tell based on my own experiences.
I was very math/science oriented in high school and knew by my senior year i wanted to study Computer Science in college. I never felt any discouragement. My school was a private Catholic School, and it was also all female so not really comparable to a public school experience.
My kids so far are too young to be able to tell yet. Emma is 10 but she happens to have interests that are aligned pretty well with stereotypes. She is an excellent writer/reader. Interestingly enough, she likes math but its not her strongest suit so it will be interesting to see how it plays out as she gets older.
But in general i can easily believe this kind of stuff still happens. I think it mainly depends on the specific teachers you encounter over the course of your education rather than saying its the public school system in general.
I too though would be all for single gender classrooms as an option.
Cecilia Marie 1/10/10
Photo By Anne Schmidt Photography
I have not personally experienced this. In fact last year my DD had an incredible teacher who called her a "math genious" (my DD has always struggled in math) and she had her best math year ever!
And my DS#1's teacher this year wants him to keep working on his writing because he is a bit weak in that area.
So I guess I'm feeling pretty lucky that we've had some good non-gender biased teachers so far. That's not to say that gender biased teachers aren't out there - I'm sure they are - we've been lucky enough not to face them as of yet.
But I would all for one gender classrooms (by choice though). I would see no problem with that at all.
Christina + Rory = a grand total of:
Amelia, Anthony, Andon, Noah, Mason, & Trinity-woof
I don't thinl gender bias is as overt as it once was. I think stereotypes and prejudices change over time. I think sexism is definitely not as prominant as it once was but I do think the type that we deal with now a daysis very covert and much harder to pinpoint until the end result hits you in the face.
You can find current research on classroom managment and gender studies that show things like teachers calling on boys more then girls, giving more times to boys who don't understand lessons then they do to girls, books and toys in lower grade level classrooms that follow traditional gender lines, the inequal amounts of famous historical men that are covered as an integrated part in the curriculum then women, etc.
And the thing is that most of this stuff is not done purposely or even consciously.
I was really good at Chemistry in high school. Had the highest grade in all 4 Chemistry classes taught at that school. This was rural Ohio in the mid nineties, which IME translated to attitudes straight out of the 50's for the rest of the country, so it's probably partially a regional thing.
I very vividly remember the teacher (who was also the wrestling coach, and also a complete jerk most of the time anyway) announcing, out loud, in the middle of class "It seems Miss Navarro is the ace to chase here, fellas. Are you really going to let a girl beat you at science?" Swear to god, that really happened.
Lana, I totally agree with what you said about the studies showing that boys are called on more often, et cetera. However, aren't there also studies that show that girls are now beating boys in college attendance and graduation?
I actually would not want my son to attend an all-boys class. I don't think that segregation between different types of people is a great thing. I can understand why historically it has been done to try and remove some of the prejudices against people, particularly people who have historically been an oppressed minority (such as girls going to Wellsley, or African American men going to Moorehouse.) But in general, and as we move forward, I think it's better to try to take down the walls between people and figure out better ways of making sure that everyone counts in integrated school systems, rather than segregating them out.
-Alissa, mom to Tristan (5) and Reid (the baby!)
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