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Gender Bias

Discussion in 'I Have a Question...' started by JmpMster, May 10, 2013.

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  1. JmpMster

    JmpMster Have a question? Message Me Staff Member Forum Owner ADMIN

    Enlightening discussion with my 8 year old boy after school yesterday. Started out because he was upset with a "student teacher" that is working in his classroom. The student teacher chose a book for him to read that was far below his reading level and told him he had to show he could read that before before the book my son had chosen (for any familiar my son reads in the 1000-1100 lexile range and I checked the book - it is a 460 so it is far beneath his reading level). I accept that it was a student teacher and that is why student teaching- to learn to teach and use such tools. My son was not as accepting. What bothered me though was his reasoning.

    The student teacher is a male teacher. My son had deduced the teacher must not be very smart. The reason? Because it is a boy teacher and he is not smart enough to teach in a boy class. Clarification was quite simply - Boy teachers only teach in the higher grades (there is not a single male elementary teacher in his school). The principal is also a male. Since male teachers teach in higher grades they are smarter than female teachers (higher grades are harder after all) so therefore this male student teacher must not be any smarter than female teachers.

    I was not pleased with this progression of logic in my 8 year old sons mind. (I also have 3 older daughters- my wife is very highly educated - he was not "raised" in a sexist household at all). It was hard to actually argue and explain his logic was flawed as well - it is made based on his observation of facts as he understands them. It does bother me that maybe my daughters perceived things the same way when they were his age or that other children (male or female) do ..... and made clear a point I had never really understood about gender bias and how it begins and at what a young age these ideas become "facts"....
  2. katrina77

    katrina77 Guest

    Interesting. I wonder if there is something subliminal at school that is giving him these ideas? Or maybe something as simple as boys thinking they are smarter at that age, girls thinking they are, etc.

    Strange that there is such a gender distinction going on the school system he is in. Maybe this is part of the problem. When I was in school (many, many, many years ago......), we had an equal number of male and female teachers. And the principal was female, so we had strong female role models in place, as well as male role models. Perhaps your son's school is lacking in this, and this is causing some of his thoughts?
  3. total eclipse

    total eclipse SF Friend Staff Alumni

    He could have heard another child say these things about male teachers and it has just stuck with him because he was told to read under his level.
  4. snarrylover

    snarrylover Well-Known Member

    Oh, bless him.

    I think, if I were in that situation, I'd let him off. I don't think an 8 year old can be knowingly sexist. Like you said, he's used to having female teachers in the younger classes. My school was like this, too. I didn't have a male teacher until I was 9 and we all felt really grown up when we reached his class. We used to treat the female teachers like out mums, giving them hugs, drawing them pictures. When a child is exposed to that kind of social environment it's all they know until they grow older and realise. When he goes to high school and has female teachers there he'll understand.

    But gender bias really is all around us. It's all over the TV - in adverts, in shows. It's all over the internet in the form of jokes and blogs. You just have to help nudge him in the right direction.
  5. JmpMster

    JmpMster Have a question? Message Me Staff Member Forum Owner ADMIN

    I am not sure it is the school. There are other schools in the district with female principals - just so happens his does not. There are definitely far more female teachers in elementary levels than male teachers in the district - and every district i have ever been in or seen - not close to a 50/50 balance until high school really.

    My first question was who told him that TE - that is when he explained to me how he had come to that conclusion that boy teachers are smarter.

    The bothersome thing was simply it was not said "mean" - it was just his conclusion and his way of excusing the problem.
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