Gender and Education
I talked in a previous article about separating classrooms by gender. The reasoning behind separating students is that girls and boys will do better in the classroom if they are separated and able to focus more on their work and not on socializing with the opposite sex. They also think students will feel more comfortable speaking out during class, because there will be no gender bias in the classroom.
Proponents of gender separation in the classroom feel gender roles are still in play in the classroom. They feel boys will dominate conversations and that girls will be hesitant to speak up. They say boys and girls will be treated differently in the classroom by each other and the teacher. Experts believe we see people as male or female, and act accordingly in the classroom. Some experts say gender roles cause more damage then they do good. I think perceptions about gender are lessening in the classroom. We see more women and men start to move into areas that were once dominated by the opposite sex.
These proponents of gender separation feel that gender bias in the classroom exists. I feel that it has existed, but I think as new teachers arrive in the classroom we see more teachers creating fair and positive learning environments for all students. Gender bias still exists, but it is not as bad as it once was. I remember a time when it was seen as inappropriate for boys to be cheerleaders or take home economics. I lived through an era where girls did not take auto mechanics classes but instead were pushed into classes that were designed to make them good homemakers. Today, we live in a society where men can stay home and take care of the children while women work.
I think proponents of gender separation in the classroom feel that boys and girls have different cultures. They see society and parents making up a culture for the children instead of letting them build their own cultures. We are pushed by society to feel that women should act a certain way and only take jobs that seem feminine. Boys are pushed by society to be tough and show no emotion. Children need to define themselves instead of parents and society doing it. I think children would do better in the classroom if we allow them to define themselves, and I think that classrooms would look a lot different if children devised their own culture.
Teachers need to find ways to break barriers and make the classroom a more positive learning environment. They need to make the classroom a place that will encourage students to continue their education and go on to pursue careers in occupations they will enjoy and not in an occupation that seems right for their gender.
Some experts say to get students into unfamiliar areas, like science, math and writing, educators can use special programs and mentors. The teacher can interest them in writing by tying it into a student’s interests instead of deciding on a topic for the student.
I think it would be great, if as teachers, we could find ways to get boys and girls to be more interested in new areas of study. We need to find ways, as teachers, to make sure all students know its okay to be smart and to want to pursue higher degrees of education and that it is perfectly acceptable go into a field once, or even yet still, dominated by the opposite sex.