Gender Literacy in School
Literacy may be defined as having necessary knowledge that can enable an individual to compete effectively in a given society. Although some scholars may define it as an ability to read and write, this is a basic definition that does not consider the interaction in a community. Currently, the issue of gender literacy is becoming of great significance. Gender is a state of being a male or female. In the recent past, men were considered much more important that women, and the society was characterized by patriarchy (Hooks, 2013). However, numerous changes took place in the 21st century concerning the gender problem. They have led to the fact that females are regarded as essential and can be trusted with more advanced duties other than childbearing and taking care of homes. To make the given ideas more wide-spread, nowadays, there is a firm belief that gender literacy has to be taught in schools.
Gender Stereotypes and Inequality
Gender stereotypes can be felt in every society. They originate from the early years of a child as the ways in which male and female kids are treated are different. For example, girls could be given dolls to play with while boys receive toy cars. Buying doll to a girl implies that they will play at home with their toys whereas boys will drive their toy cars out of the homestead. Besides, the mentioned above choice of toys shows that boys are given freedom of movement and are allowed to do what they want while girls are restricted to staying at home to babysit and take care of the family. Moreover, it presupposes that males can be trusted with duties and responsibilities that outside the home; however, females will only be allowed to operate within the household. However, not all boys like the toy cars and not all girls like the dolls, but parents decide what children should play with as a result of societal prejudices and beliefs. Therefore, gender stereotype has considerably influenced the society.
In addition, patriarchy has continued to affect people all over the globe. This is a notion that is used to refer to a situation in which men are considered as more powerful than females. Thus, the former have the responsibility and power to head the family. On the other hand, the latter are not entrusted with such obligations and are assigned with inferior tasks such as childbearing and taking care of home. In this light, in the past, boys were allowed to go to school and protect their families while girls could only stay at home to reproduce and look after the children (Hooks, 2013). This was the order of the day, and you could not thwart the decision made by a father as it could result in punishments. In addition, boys were prepared to be strong and were not allowed to associate with feminist things. For instance, they could be blamed for wearing a dress (Hooks, 2013). A vivid example of a culture that valued boys more than girls is China. The state’s society believed that males were more potent than females. As a result, they could control the social and economic relations and create the laws (Hooks, 2013). In fact, men still dominate in China. Therefore, patriarchy has affected gender relations to a great extent.
Gender Issues and Gender Literacy in Schools
Despite all the changes in gender beliefs, gender problem are still present in schools due to the effect of historical development. Even though both boys and girls can now go to school together and have nearly similar responsibilities, boys still dominate the classrooms. This is the case due to gender stereotypes that are deeply rooted in the cultures (Kucer, 2014). Females still have a phobia to dominate at school since they feel inferior. For example, when I observed the children of different genders, I noticed that boys were more energetic in class than girls. I had a chance to take part in a class activity together with the pupils. They were told to draw a tree. One of the girls was the first one to finish the work; however, she was too shy to tell about this loudly. On the contrary, the boy who finished later informed the teacher of hid drawing rather loudly. Obviously, the teacher paid attention to him as he was noisy. From the given illustration, it is clear that when boys make noise during class interactions, teachers will focus on them which brings about the aspect of dominance. Additionally, teachers may think boys will make a lot of trouble because of such behavior, thus, they will always interact with them in the first place while girls will remain inferior. Thus, despite such attention to gender literacy and its significance, gender inequality is still rooted in schools.
Moreover, boys as praised when they have improved their behavior while girls are given credit when they are compliant with their conduct. A change in behavior is viewed as development. On the other hand, there is no growth in cases of compliance. People need to make mistakes and be corrected as it helps them to learn and not to repeat the same misdeed. When boys are praised because they have made a mistake and improved, they develop good behavior and learn, which is reflected in their overall performance whereas girls do not gain anything (Kucer, 2014). Besides, through correcting boys when they have bad conduct, teachers interact with a boy child more than a girl, and this raises the issue of dominance as all concentration is on boys. There is less focus on girls since their behavior is considered good when it is not, and thus, no learning will be initiated in them. Thus, when teachers praise boys when they have inappropriate conduct, the latter will believe that they can improve their thoughts, behavior, and the overall performance in class. Contrary to girls, they feel encouraged to always behave well which becomes their advantage.
Gender differences can be also seen based on how people think and reason regarding boys and girls. Some of the utterances adults make may show that boys are superior to girls. For example, earlier, it was difficult to see a boy cry as it was associated with girls. The latter were the only people who were allowed to cry since they were considered weak, and their tears showed it. Males were believed to be strong and were entrusted with the managerial responsibilities and overseeing most of the critical aspects of the societal life; thus, they were not supposed to cry. For example, I can remember that when I was in elementary school, one of the boys in my class did not perform well and cried. The teacher came and told him not to cry like a girl as he was a boy. He was told to be brave and face the problem and encouraged to accept the result and move on. This was a form of patriarchy I experienced, and I did not expect it. Now, I realize that the teacher’s words were powerful, and meant a lot. First, they implied that it was only girls who could fail. Second, the teacher showed that only girls could cry when faced with tough situations. Thus, with regard to gender literacy in school, whatever is told to children should not be things that reflect on the traditional gender differences.
In this century, most children grow up without the knowledge of patriarchy. Teachers usually have a great influence on shaping the ideas in children and try to make everything possible to teach them value and treat each other equally. However, in most cases, it is hard as children have different characteristics that leads to a separation based on their gender. Teachers may divide students as male and female or may concentrate on a specific kid and, later, realize that he is a boy. Obviously, one of the main objectives of teachers is to deal with gender disparity and to ensure that a just environment is created without any gender dominating the class. Nevertheless, it is difficult at times. For instance, one of the experiences I have observed in children is that each kid wants to choose friends with whom they can play together and share things. In most cases, boys will prefer to play with boys, and girls choose their female friends. It can be difficult to teach a kindergarten child what patriarchy is and show them the importance of gender equality. I have noticed that boys have their own peculiarities and, thus, use them to dominate the environment. Therefore, even in the young age, children see their distinguishing features and make decisions on who they should play with and interact within a class based on them. This shows that patriarchy exists within the learning institutions and should be handled not to cause disparities between the genders.
Sadly, it is still noticeable that the female students have accepted the male dominance in class. Girls know that boys are usually aggressive, strong and may physically protect them. In most cases, it is easy for a girl to consult other boys during class discussions that shows they believe in the power of men. And, again, this is a form of patriarchy identified in classes. However, the situation is gradually changing. For example, arranging the same gender in group work may look crazy especially to girls. They usually want to be in a group of boys to experience balance. Gender balance has been shaped by the media contents, textbooks, and curriculum. However, in spite of the teachers’ efforts to create the environment of equality among the students, they do not always succeed in achieving this. It is explained by the fact that females have accepted to be inferior and entrusted men to remain strong and dominant. Thus, it means that a lot has to be changed in the curriculum to ensure that the gender gap is filled.
Another gender difference worth considering is the ways males and females cope with challenges. Men usually compete with other males to protect themselves and to get what they want. For example, boys can fight over a book in class which is completely different from the approaches that girls will use (Kimmel & Mahler, 2003). Moreover, in most cases, boys consider violence as a means to solve the conflict that also helps to gain confidence through fighting. Younger boys may not be able to control their emotions; they use power to explore their potential and determine what makes them aggressive. On the contrary, girls seldom fight when faced with problems; instead, they can report such issues or cry as a way to deal with stress. Very often, these differences lead to misunderstandings. However, teachers are trying hard to ensure a right curriculum is provided to the children to enable them to understand each other that will help fight the gender gap.
To continue, boys usually look for guidance and support from male teachers. They believe they will understand them better than the female ones. Besides, they believe that men have strength and energy and can support them in case of misunderstanding (Miller, 2016). They do not want to associate with the female teachers due to the stereotype that is rooted in the blood and perception of the female gender. For example, boys usually like the PE class as the majority of PE teachers are male; consequently, boys develop an interest in the lesson and the teachers. In this situation, teachers have to make efforts to ensure that children are raised with the knowledge of gender equality. Some rules may be set in class concerning behavior though they may not be appealing to boys since they always want to be free, play when they want and dominate. Sadly, currently, a lot of attention is paid to boys to ensure that their behavior is appropriate while their female counterparts are forgotten. Thus, teachers should understand the gender difference first before emphasizing on gender equality; this will help in dealing with boy culture.
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Undoubtedly, a lot of changes have taken place in the society, and they have influenced the view of the gender. There are clear transformations in how people view others and act within the community. They struggle against the traditional perceptions and stereotypes. One of the vivid examples of changes is the appearance of feminism that promotes the women’s welfare. In the past, females were considered inferior as men were entrusted with more serious responsibilities in the community (Hooks, 1991). Women were only allowed to look after children at home and take care of the families. Feminism is fighting for women and their rights to do what men can do. It is struggling for gender equality in the society. For example, traditionally, females were not allowed to vote or take active part in politics and life of the state. However, feminism has ensured that women have the same rights as men; now, they are involved in politics and can vote in a democratic environment. Feminism has been introduced in schools as teachers realize that gender literacy is important as it promotes gender equality and informs girls of their rights in the society.
To sum up, gender literacy has been a concern in the society in which males dominate all the aspects of life, and females are left with home-based responsibilities. This still remains a traditional perception and stereotype that is deeply rooted in the community. Sadly, it affects individuals even in the present days despite all the information available regarding gender issues and necessity of gender equality. At school, boys dominate almost all the activities in class including the overall performance due to some of their innate characteristics. Besides, patriarchy has contributed to the differences evidenced between the representatives of different genders. However, schools have contributed to the promotion of literacy in the issue by including feminism in the curriculum, mixing boys and girls during class activities, and teaching about various modern theories of gender equality, their effects and importance to the society.