An examination of children's images of power and gender within an urban elementary classroom
Sandra Hollingsworth and Janet Miller are middle-class, white,
women professors and teacher educators in their forties who also have
been engaged in separate six-year-long teacher-researcher collaboratives.
They agreed to co-create this chapter as a series of conversational
letters which would both explore the issue of "gender equity"
in teacher research and help them get to know each other personally
and professionally. Drawing upon the histories that ground their personal
experiences, the authors reflect in their writings about teacher
research from various feminist perspectives on achieving gender
equity and social change in schools.
Gender, as a
category of analysis, suggests that to understand female—or male—
experience each must be analyzed in relationship to the other in order
to see how each is shaped by the other. Patriarchy, for example, is a
central part of women's lives even when men are not around. That is
why this book, even though it is mostly about women, focuses on
gender. We want to explain more about this, and about the feminist
perspective on gender that each of the essays takes.
this essay I will look at three such reform efforts: the "boy problem,"
identified in the Progressive era when critics charged the schools with
being too "female"; a concurrent discussion of the "woman question,"
when critics worried that women were not being adequately prepared
for their adult vocations of wife and mother; and the critique of
coeducation in the 1960s and 1970s, when feminists argued that the
curriculum and training of girls was intentionally or inadvertently
In this chapter, I argue for a deeper and more complex
understanding of multicultural education by attending to the
particularities of gender. I explore the damaging effects for students
and for educators when the meaning of gender is reduced to the
category of sex-role stereotyping and when multicultural education
dissipates into an endless celebration of uniqueness.
We need to investigate the
power relationships embedded in the very ways that structures and
contents of disciplines get constructed. And, further, we need to
examine the situated nature of these relationships—the intersections of
gender, race, age, sexual preference, class, and any of the other
multiple social constructions and positionings that collide within
various and shifting contexts and contents of schooling and thus
become part of what we now call curriculum.
In this chapter we explore equity issues in educational research
methods. We cover these issues and examine how a view of females
and males as "opposite" challenges the legitimacy of using "difference-based research" in studies of gender. We also consider
ways that equity concerns are being addressed through the rethinking
of the uses of traditional methods as well as the development of new
This chapter is divided into two sections. In the first, I will discuss
the evidence concerning the extent of gender differences in academic
achievement. In the second section, I will review two perspectives on
enhancing academic achievement among women. Many writers have
considered separately the relationships between achievement and race,
achievement and ethnicity, achievement and social class, and achievement
and gender. Such formulations tend to emphasize one sociodemographic
characteristic at the expense of others.
In relation to gender discrimination, studies of the use of
computers by girls and boys in the United States suggest that less
frequent use of them by girls may be linked to gender socialization.
The fact that girls and boys are likely to be differentially impacted by
the introduction of computer technology was pointed out by scholars
several years ago. Socialization is one of several influences that affect
the impact on girls and boys not only of computers but of other
technologies as well. In this chapter, I will discuss the implications of
changes over the last fifty years brought about by several technologies.
We found that women of all ages, according to this literature, are
allegedly scripted to be "good women," and that they have, in
compliance, smothered their passions, appetites, and outrage. When
sexually harassed, they tell "his stories." To please the lingering
internalized "him," they suffer in body image and indulge in eating
disorders, s And to satisfy social demands for "attractiveness," women
with and without disabilities transform and mutilate their bodies.
In this chapter I refer both to mothers and parents, as the
teachers did, but always mean mothers. When teachers refer to parents
and not mothers, they attempt to avoid the gender issues which
connect them. The gendered positions of both mothers and teachers
always lurk as the subtext to each encounter.
In the first section of this chapter we explore current research on
variations in teaching practice that result in inequities between girls
and boys and between minority and non-minority groups and we
examine the consequences of these inequities. In the second section we
review the research on changing institutional behavior and we tie what is known from research about institutional change to how we
can change teachers' behavior to bring about better practice. In the
third section we use the research on effective teaching to suggest
strategies for teachers that will facilitate a more equitable classroom
environment for all students. Finally, we draw upon a recent report of
the National Coalition on Women and Girls in Education that shows
how reaching the National Education Goals for the year 2000 is
contingent upon making sure that the educational needs of girls and
women are met.
In this chapter I will define and describe sexual harassment in
schools as it occurs between students and between staff and students.
I will demonstrate that sexual harassment is a rampant yet largely unrecognized problem with deleterious effects on its subjects/victims.
(The words "subject/victim" will be used in tandem when referring
to the subject or recipient of unwanted attention: "subject" to indicate
that anyone can be a subject of such attention, and "victim" because it
is a legal notion, albeit often with paralyzing psychosocial consequences.)
I will chronicle the reckless indifference manifested by
school administrators toward this problem in schools, and I will then
conclude with proposals for action and intervention at various levels.
This chapter reflects our experience as educators in the Boston
Public Schools and most recently in the Chelsea (Massachusetts)
Public Schools. We believe that our experience, imagination, and knowledge, as
well as other women's, not only matter but illuminate our way. We
think of Alice standing before the looking glass, and like her, we step
through and across the divide into another world of possibility. The
fact that our world is the world of urban public education does not
matter in the final analysis. The way we see—the eyes we bring, the
curiosity and the willingness to take all of ourselves as females
through the glass with us—defines our perspective. How we see and
the lenses we enlist—from magnifying to bifocal to telescopic--to
expand our vision are what count.
In education as well as other social institutions, concerns of women
often are represented as competing with concerns of racial minority
groups and sometimes of low-income people. This chapter challenges
that representation. Half of racial minority group members and low-income
people are women. However, by treating race, social class, and
gender as separate issues signifying discrete groups, white economically
privileged women tend to benefit, and oppressed groups remain
fragmented, competing against each other for scarce resources.
Gender, we now realize, must be understood as a social
construct or a cultural construct, referring to the meanings attached to
the biological division of the sexes. More simply, gender identifies the
implications of what it means in different contexts to be born a girl or
a boy. It has to do with the mannerisms taught or adopted, and the expectations
internalized, the modes of perceiving others and being
This article examines Boston's school desegregation from 1962 to 1972, focusing on African-American women who demanded quality education for their children. This article discusses the constituency that supported a 1972 suit by Boston's National Association for the Advancement of Colored People claiming that Boston public schools denied equal education to African-American children.
Defends the value of boys' schools, noting lack of objective data to support a negative appraisal of them. There is an inherent maleness that cannot be alienated from boys and men without a fundamental loss of their humanity. Schools must take the responsibility for conveying how to become a man.
Describes Deerfield Academy's recent process of changing from a single-sex to a coeducational school. Though some students and teachers resisted the change, most adapted well and enjoyed the new atmosphere. The school community believes that Deerfield should not settle for anything less than a full coeducational status.
A high school administrator adopts a feminist approach to administration.
The author asserts that gender relations, particularly the relations of domination and subjugation characteristic of patriarchy, condition our ways of knowing, of teaching, of learning, and even of understanding gender itself.
This article discusses findings from a seven-year longitudinal study of 24 junior high students. The study examined ways in which student beliefs about the future were affected by school, family, the economy, and peers. The effects of race, gender, and class on student dreams were also examined.
We will examine how socialization and enculturation take place for
women and men within each of the three types of communities at this
moment of history. Structures handed down from past traditions fit
poorly the developmental needs of women and men in these rapidly
changing times. By looking first at the historical reality and the
straitjacket of stereotypes which has constrained that reality, we get a better sense of the ongoing nature of the struggle in which women and
men now find themselves. It is new, but it is also very old. What is
new is the more active interplay of household, occupation, and civic
areas for both sexes. There are no historical precedents for this, so the
resocialization has to take place without adequate role models.
This article presents an overview of theories of teacher professionalization, a discussion of feminist theories and the definition of gender analysis, and an argument for the appropriateness of gender analysis of teacher professionalization.
The author examines three approaches that show some appreciation for the feminine and thus are attractive to those who would include feminine attributes in their description of educated persons. The objective is to locate and discuss two kinds of error: moves that inadvertently lead the searcher into a trap very like the one he or she is trying to escape and compensatory moves that are incompatible with the guiding purpose.
The fact that most elementary school teachers are female provides a key to understanding why there are often attempts by state bureaucrats, industry, and academics to control the curricular and teaching practices in classrooms. It also explains why these externally derived controls are often transformed by teachers once they are in their classrooms.
Jane Roland Martin's charge that a male cognitive perspective dominates educational philosophy is assessed. Martin's views on the ideal educated person (in writings of R. S. Peters and others), gender bias in the intellectual disciplines, the rationality learning theory, and self-alienation of educated women are analyzed.
The connections between class and gender must be recognized if attempts to rationalize and proletarianize teaching are to be understood. Behaviorally-specified curriculum, prepackaged programs, and repeated testing and accountability measures represent attempts by state governments and by male administrators to wrest control of instruction from a largely female corps of teachers.
A call for sex education that impacts values along with sexual information.