Gender Stereotypes in Learning Debunked (page 2)

Gender Stereotypes in Learning Debunked

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Updated on Apr 15, 2011

Busting Stereotypes in the Classroom

Gender expectations are introduced to children in the classroom as early as preschool. Children might be asked to divide into groups with boys in one group and girls in another. As simple as this action is, it may be one of the first times that gender differences are accentuated for children. In the preschool environment, it is helpful to have a mix of toys traditionally meant for boys and toys traditionally meant for girls. The toys should be mixed together in a play environment in which children are allowed to freely explore everything.

As students get older, Ms. Bushey recommends supplementing the curriculum with both male and female presenters so that students are exposed to role models of both genders. “I also encourage all students to see themselves as writers, mathematicians, scientists, historians, etc…whether they are male or female,” she says.

Whether students present the stereotypical male or female behavior patterns in the classroom, it is important to have everyone participate in all activities. “Last year we did a simple sewing project for Mother’s Day and many of the boys were very excited to have the opportunity to sew,” she says.

Helping the Individual Learner

When a child is struggling in school, try not to look toward gender differences as the cause of the child’s problem or the way in which the problem can be remedied. While learning style may have something to do with the child’s difficulties, it is more helpful to create a supportive and nurturing environment in which the child can overcome difficulties. Dr. Altschule says, “The best approach is to have regular communication with teachers and academic support accompanied by the utilization of a positive reinforcement behavior plan at home.”

Children learn best in a supportive environment, no matter what learning their learning style. In an academic environment, students should be able to focus on ways they are similar to their peers rather than the ways they are different from them.  

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