Introduction

This guide is to provide information about two main issues that can present themselves in the classroom. Those issues include: gender stereotypes and the third teacher. The purpose of this guide is to provide resources for teachers to use to better inform educators and why the present issues are important. This guide can be an information place for educators to go if they are having trouble with the issues that are being discussed.

The information provided will:

  • Explain the issues/importance of the issues
  • Defensible approaches/strategies
  • Curriculum links
  • Ideas into practice
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The Issue

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.

References

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

Defensible Strategies

There are many ways in which that these issues can be dealt with to minimise the impact on the students. One of the strategies that can be used to approach the issue surrounding gender stereotyping is to choose books that challenge some of the conventional ideas of what girls and boys aspire to (National Union of Teachers, 2014, p. 3). According to the National Union of Teachers (2014, p. 8) the book William’s Doll by Charlotte Zolotow addresses a young boy who wants a doll, this conveys to the children that are reading the book that they can play with any toys that they would like even if they do not fit what is considered to be normal. Another strategy that is easy to apply in the classroom is ensuring that parents and visitors are aware of a school’s equality policy and also ensure that visitors to the classroom do not affirm or encourage gender stereotyping through their practice (National Union of Teachers, 2013, p. 10). A way in which to approach the third teacher to prevent a negative environment is to think about developing spaces that are age appropriate and consider the stages of the children who are going to use the environment (Robson, 2004, p. 209). Through educators having planed out their space throughout their classroom environment sets up the feel of the classroom and provides positive learning spaces: as the environment is individually set up for the age group of the children it will enhance the learning experience. To prevent an environment that encompasses gender stereotyping, providing a wide range of resources that represent many varieties of beliefs and values and does not support any stereotypes of gender, race, cultures and or religion (Robson, 2004, p. 212). In providing many resources for the children to access will allow the students to look at all different aspects of different lifestyle, the culture of this setting will allow many viewpoints and experiences in which children will benefit from (Robson, 2004, p. 212).

References

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

National Union of Teachers. (2014). It’s child’s play: Challenging gender stereotypes through reading. Retrieved from http://www,teachers.org.uk.files/childs-play-20pp-final-for-website.pdf

Robson, S. (2004). The physical environment. In L. Miller & J. Devereux. Supporting children’s learning in the early years. (pp. 205-216). London: Open University Press.

Curriculum Links

These issues are linked t0 many areas within the Australian Curriculum, The Adelaide Declaration on National Goals for Schooling in the Twenty-First Century and the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians.

There are a few curriculum links that link the issue of the gender gap under the year ten Work Studies link. Although this curriculum link does not impact directly on primary school children it will be important for the children to understand so when they are presented with the issue in later life they have an adequate understanding.

ACWOP054 – Analyze the impact of gender imbalance on the workplace and the community (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2014).

  • Identifying the types of gender imbalance occurring in the workplace such as career advancement opportunities, earnings capacity (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2014).
  • Proposing strategies to address gender imbalance in the workplace (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2014).

The following point from Adelaide Declaration covers the issues that have been spoken about due to this point ensuring equity throughout all aspects of schooling including gender:

  • 3.1 – Schooling should be socially just so that: students’ outcomes from schooling are free from the effects of negative forms of discrimination based on sex, language, culture and ethnicity, religion or disability; and of differences arising from students’ socio-economic background or geographic location (Education Council, 2014, p. 1).

The following point from the Melbourne Declaration are closely related to the issues that have been spoken about previously as they fall under Goal One, Australian schooling promotes equity and excellence, which includes equity throughout gender:

  • Provide all students with access to high-quality schooling that is free from discrimination based on gender, language, sexual orientation, pregnancy, culture, ethnicity, religion, health or disability, socioeconomic background or geographic location (Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs, 2008, p. 7).

References

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2014). Australian Curriculum. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/work-studies/curriculum/f-10?layout=1

Education Council (2014). The Adelaide declaration of National Goals for Schooling in the Twenty-First Century. Retrieved from http://www.scseec.edu.au/archive/Publications/Publications-archive/The-Adelaide-Declaration.aspx

Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs. (2008). Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians. Retrieved from http://www.curriculum.edu.au/verve/_resources/National_Declaration_on_the_Educational_Goals_for_Young_Australians.pdf

Ideas Into Practice

Activity One

Objective: To ensure educators understand underlying messages about gender throughout books.

This activity that could be useful for educators to complete at a professional development to understand aspects of gender stereotyping includes getting a variety of books that would be suitable for classroom reading and then answer the following questions about each book, first answering the questions individually and then sharing responses in a small group. Throughout asking these questions for each book that is presented will allow for individual teachers to understand the gender concepts behind each book that they might not otherwise think of.

  1. What is the main gender throughout the book?
  2. What sort of roles do the females have?
  3. What sort of roles do the males have?
  4. Is one gender more dominant?
  5. If one gender is more dominant? Is there any way the story could be changed to make the genders even?

Activity Two

Objective: To identify how children would feel in the classroom environment that is set up.

This activity works best in groups of any size; it allows educators to feel how students would feel in their environment. This activity begins with all teachers setting up a mini lesson plan and then they teach their lesson, however they will be teaching to other educators that will be looking at their lesson from a student’s perspective. Activities like this will only work if the educators that are being the student’s act and think like the age group the lesson is aimed at and if the educators can teach the lesson in their classroom setting. In completion of this lesson the educators that were acting as students discuss with the teacher that taught and described how they felt in relation to the environment that was being created. This is a good perspective for teachers to understand, as how the students feel in their classroom will entail the mood of the class. In reverse, it is good for educators to be in the students position as they are then able to feel the way that they would during a lesson and are able to decide what they like and do not like from a students’ perspective.

Conclusion

In conclusion, this guide covers the issues of gender stereotyping and the third teacher in creating positive learning environments. It is important that educators are aware of the values and beliefs that are being presented from a young age and understand how the student’s feel in the environment that the teacher is creating for the children. Another highly valued point throughout this guide is to encourage students to be themselves, allow expression throughout their younger years and allow them to create their own ideas and opinions of the world.

Additional Resources for Educators

Gender Stereotypes

The third teacher/creating positive learning environments

References

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2014). Australian Curriculum. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/work-studies/curriculum/f-10?layout=1

Connelly, P. (2004). Boys and schooling in the early years. Oxon: Routledge.

Education Council (2014). The Adelaide declaration of National Goals for Schooling in the Twenty-First Century. Retrieved from http://www.scseec.edu.au/archive/Publications/Publications-archive/The-Adelaide-Declaration.aspx

Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs. (2008). Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians. Retrieved from http://www.curriculum.edu.au/verve/_resources/National_Declaration_on_the_Educational_Goals_for_Young_Australians.pdf

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

National Union of Teachers. (2014). It’s child’s play: Challenging gender stereotypes through reading. Retrieved from http://www,teachers.org.uk.files/childs-play-20pp-final-for-website.pdf

Robson, S. (2004). The physical environment. In L. Miller & J. Devereux. Supporting children’s learning in the early years. (pp. 205-216). London: Open University Press.

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