There are two main issues that have been presented; this includes gender stereotyping and the third teacher. Both of these issues are very important for educators to understand and be aware of due to the prevalence of these situations in classrooms. Gender stereotyping is a common issue that reinforces prejudice, which in turn places constraint on people’s lives (National Union of Teachers, 2013, p. 3).
The issue of gender stereotyping is present throughout modern day society, this entails children to be influenced to behave a certain way: children are taught from a young age which colours, games, toys and even books are for girls and which ones for boys (National Union of Teachers, 2013, p. 3). Children can be influenced by societies views from a very young age and then by the time that they are old enough to make their own decisions they have been shaped to conform to societies views on what they should and should not be playing with. It is highly important that educators understand the issue of gender stereotypes, as students spend most their time in the classroom if the teacher is reinforcing gender stereotypes then the students will believe that it is normal for girls to only play with certain things and that boys are only allowed to play with ‘manly’ toys. To have a positive influence as an educator focusing on gender can be seen by challenging the dominant forms of masculinity among young boys (Connelly, 2004, p. 221) to influence them to go outside the considered norm. Due to the amount of impact the children get outside of school, educators need to encourage girls and boys to take part in all activities and challenge any stereotypes that may be linked to gender (National Union of Teachers, 2013, p. 10).
Reggio Emilia identifies the third teacher as the environment; how space can be thoughtfully used to enhance the educational journey (Strong-Wilson and Ellis, 2007, p. 40). The environment is an important issue that is to be raised as the environment is not normally considered as alive (Strong-Wilson and Ellis, 2007, p. 40), however it can have huge impacts in how the child sees their school and learning environment. It is not just the physical aspects that shape the environment it also includes the teacher’s attitudes and actions also how the environment felt from a child’s perspective (Strong-Wilson and Ellis, 2007, p. 41). Teachers need to be aware of the way in which they are projecting certain attitudes, if a teacher is enhancing certain values and beliefs in the classroom, these values and beliefs will reflect on the students. The environment needs to feel comfortable for all students with room for them to express themselves freely. All educators need to understand not just the importance of the environment but the impact that the environment has on the children. The third teacher is a concept that needs to be understood by teachers as it will set the standard and feel for the classroom, the way in which the children feel in the classroom will set the standard for behaviour and the productivity of the classroom. Educators need to be aware of the third teacher to create a positive and encouraging learning environment for all students.
There are other issues that relate to gender stereotypes and the third teacher. This includes the issues of bullying and gender identity issues. Through societal views on gender stereotyping, children who feel that they do not fit the ‘social norm’ may be subject to gender identity issues. Children that are having a gender identity issues may like to express themselves differently, these differences can cause other children to bully them. Bullying is a common issue that is prevalent in most schools, bullying in relation to gender stereotyping can occur in a situation where a boy wants to play with a toy that is deemed to be a feminine toy and some of his friends may find it out of the normal and are not comfortable with his choice due to societies influences on gender decided toys. The issues of bullying and gender identity are important for teachers/educators to understand as they are underlying issues that can be present.
Connelly, P. (2004). Boys and schooling in the early years. Oxon: Routledge.
National Union of Teachers. (2013). Stereotypes stop you doing stuff: Challenging gender stereotypes through gender education. Retrieved from http://www.teachers.org.uk/files/stereotypes-stop.pdf
Strong-Wilson, T. & Ellis, J. (2007). Children and place: Reggio Emilia’s environment as third teacher. Theory into Practice. Retrieved from http://www-tandfonline-com.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/doi/pdf/10.1080/00405840709336547