A Brief Reflection on the Last Week's Webinar: Gender Equality in Education

Posted On 2/23/2019 6:29:00 PM, 5Comments

This week’s webinar was centered on the subject I, personally, research about the most; gender and the gender inequality. Since we focus on the educational side of these kind of social justice issues and topics, I entirely put the emphasis on the male and female figures and didn’t research the key factors in this issue; the terms. If we, as teachers, are going to create educational environments where there would be minimal or no social justice issues, we must be aware of what we are defending or supporting to make our argument even more effective. This week’s webinar has taught a lot about gender bias, gender socialization, hidden curriculum, etc… These are maybe the concepts that everyone knows but they are not the concepts that everyone knows ‘’in detail.’’ Also, the educational materials that the webinars provide each week are extremely helpful for me to conduct a particular lesson that would address the social justice issues in my practicum site easily. For example, the short story called ‘’Paper Bag Princess’’ can be a good material to be discussed in the classroom or the teacher may even come up with his/her own ideas related to this story. It is a good material because it focuses on a female character who is powerful and strong enough to save the male character, unlike the other kind of stories where the male character is the strongest of all. So, the webinar was helpful in providing a huge opportunity for me to see the other side of teaching since nearly the most of the teachers focus on the content knowledge and forget about social justice issues or any other affective side of teaching and learning.

Actually, there are many obstacles in having a classroom where there would be no gender-related issues like gender bias at all because everyone in a nation is affected by the culture while defining the gender and gender roles. This, in time, causes some stereotypes such as defining the females’ roles as dealing with the home; washing dishes, cooking meal, etc… In my first practicum site, I asked 8th grade students a question after I introduced the unit called ‘’In the Kitchen’’. Since we were at the break and I’d just introduced them the phrases and vocabularies for cooking, I asked a question about only cooking and there were a few students to talk about my question. I asked ‘’Who deals with the works -cooking especially- at home; your father or your mother?’’. Every student near me said it was their mother who deals with cooking meals in the house. Even a male student said ‘’It is their duty, teacher. Why should we cook at all?’’ I was shocked when he said that since I was expecting for him to respond differently. When I asked ‘’why do you think like this?’’ he couldn’t answer and another female student joined the conversation and blamed the male student for having such stereotypes. In my own humble opinion, the ideas that these kinds of male students have stemmed from the culture itself. The culture is what shapes a society’s opinions and ideas about certain issues and topics. Also, the family structure is an important factor to be thought in this matter. Through all the people I’ve met so far, the ones who have a democratic family structure are the ones that stand up against the culture’s stereotypical ideology. All in all, since I want to implement a non-sexist approach into my teaching, it would be pretty hard for me to shape the ideas of these kinds of students. I often try to include both male and female figures in my materials while I’m teaching so that the students would have a perspective which results in the idea that both gender’s roles are not defined according to physical, masculine or feminine ways. For example, introducing the pictures of both male and female figures who are cooking or cleaning the house together. These are small but important steps in establishing an awareness.

The things that I learned in this week’s webinar is truly transferable to my own teaching practice as I mentioned above. I always think about the gender-related issues in my own practicum site. In addition to the efforts I had, the concepts that this week’s webinar taught me would be quite helpful for me to come up with different kinds of materials to be practiced in my classroom. For example, using short stories in classrooms filled by young learners to overcome stereotypes and using certain types of texts in a classroom filled with teenagers to discuss about gender-related issues, factors and roles would be extremely useful to establish a kind of environment where the students can share their own opinions about this matter and realize the other side of issues, as well.

Since I had an opportunity in this project to talk and think about this issue in detail, I now feel more comfortable to talk about gender roles in my classrooms. I usually remained neutral even though there were students around me with whom I shared similar opinions about these issues. I didn’t want to be seen as the teacher who selects sides since the young learners tend to feel like this when they see a teacher with different opinions. However, I now feel that I was doing wrong the whole time. I should provide students with evidences, articles about gender-related issues such as misconceptions of gender roles in society to shape their ideas in a positive and democratic way.

Comments (5) -

Bill Snyder
2/25/2019 3:53:00 AM #

Hi Necati,

It really does seem that the webinar gave you a lot of food for thought. And I'm glad to hear that you feel that it has helped you to feel more comfortable about addressing gender issues in your classroom. Having the feeling of knowing that you can talk about something in useful ways is powerful.

I thought your idea for using the In the Kitchen lesson as a basis for talking about gender roles in the home is a good one. I already mentioned this possibility on Reyyan's blog, talking about rooms in a home can be gendered and about who does what in different rooms. Take a look at her blog for my comment, if you want. And add your thoughts there, as well.

Your last paragraph raises a really important issue, about the possibility of the teacher being seen as taking sides on an issue. I think creating the impression of openness to considering a variety of perspectives may be more important than an impression of neutrality. I don't think we can avoid choosing sides on certain issues and that will come through in our lessons. But we have to be able to listen to others, consider their perspectives, and treat them with respect, even if we disagree with them. That kind of openness won't necessarily change anyone but I think it creates more possibilities for others to consider the views being presented than if they feel forced to parrot certain views

Our openness doesn't mean that we should accept a lack of evidence, though. So, I think you are right about the importance of providing students with evidence and heloing them work through it to their own conclusions. This is some of the hard work of teaching, as I'm sure you've come to appreciate. But it sounds like you are getting a grasp of this work.

I'm looking forward to meeting you when I come to Turkey in April/May and learning more from you then.

Necati Sönmez
3/2/2019 12:43:08 PM #

Thank you for taking the time and effort in commenting on the post, Mr. Snyder. I really think that these webinars provided an opportunity for me to learn more about social justice. I believe that an English teacher can't just teach grammar. There are more important issues than teaching the basics of a language. That's one of the reasons why I participated in this project; to learn and to teach better.

While I was having my first practicum experience in a secondary school, I encountered lots of different opinions. I thought I should hide my opinions to not to create a bias towards the students and their opinions. However, I later realized that I should express my own opinions because these opinions of students seemed wrong or false to me. Having aggressive attitudes or opinions would cause students to have a perspective that would see nothing in the end. So, I thought that if I provide students some evidence, I would have the chance to express my opinions and strengthen my argument with the evidence. As you mentioned, these are the parts of some of the hard works. However, if we maintain our patience and lust for knowledge, I think we will manage to succeed and break the ordinary cycle.

Giuseppe Mattiello
3/6/2019 8:14:57 PM #

Hello Necati,

I want to start by saying that i'm glad gender related issues are being addressed in schools around the world, unfortunately it doesn't seem to happen that much in my country (Italy). I think young studends must understand all the different stereotypes regarding gender roles in order to spread equality and stop misinformation. Sadly misinformation starts spreading from the adults, and a stagnating society that's been unchanged for years, now those beliefs are set in stone, that's why the young generation is being affected by the fundamentally wrong teaching of the adults. Your idea of giving those students evidence to strenghten your argument is extremely good, the more evidence you give them the more the old beliefs are being replaced, i wish that in the near future more teachers will start using the same approach and maybe hopefully we can achieve a true form of gender equality.

Necati Sönmez
3/7/2019 8:04:22 AM #

Hi Giuseppe!
Thank you for expressing your own opinions on these issues. Being a teacher is always misunderstood or misinterpreted in nearly every country. A teacher does not always teach the language or the content. Instead, a teacher should be aware of social justice issues and must take precautions to make the students take democratic actions in the future.
You're right about the old traditional views that became legends in present. Ideologies become nearly impossible to be broken if they are continuously believed by people over time. In this case, we must do our job to raise awareness with our evidence. Every single person in societies should take part in such issues, not only the teachers. It will take time but I believe that we can do it.

Adnan Yilmaz
3/16/2019 11:27:22 AM #

Dear Necati,

I am happy that Webinar 2 has provided new and useful insights for your teaching practices. I do certainly agree that culture underlies the perspectives (e.g., beliefs, notions, attitudes, etc.), practices, and products that we have in relation to gender roles. The culture that children are born and socialize into, therefore, affect their notions, beliefs, and attitudes regarding gender roles. This socialization process is highly likely to perpetuate the gender stereotypes and biases observed across and/or within communities.

As teachers, we have a lot of responsibilities to help students deconstruct and reconstruct these perspectives, practices, and products. As you suggested, the picture story books centered on reverse gender roles can, for example, be very effective to deconstruct and then reconstruct students’ beliefs, notions, and attitudes related to gender roles. This deconstruction may lay the groundwork for the practices and products they will have in their lives later on. In this sense, I am really very happy that this webinar has given you some useful tips to apply in your lessons.

Thank you for sharing your ideas with us! I really enjoyed reading your post.

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