Friday, December 19, 2008

Field Experience Notebook

RUNNING HEAD: Field Experience Notebook

Field Experience Notebook
Brandon Heikoop
D’Youville College

EDU 621 – Childhood Methods I: Science, Mathematics and Social Studies
Dr. P. Piotrowski

School and Class Information
Forestview Public School
8406 Forestview Blvd
Niagara Falls, Ontario
L2H 0B9
Mrs. C. Bautista
3rd Grade
Forestview is an interesting school. Located in a brand new area of Niagara Falls, Forestview draws from a young community. The community is predominantly made up of single family homes in what would be referred to as a middle class community. This new community is also the home to many families with a Serbian, Yugoslavian, or Croatian background, many of whom are recent immigrants.
The third grade class has twenty students with a wide spectrum of intelligencies and capabilities. In fact, the class may very well be too broad as it seems nearly half the class catches on to a concept immediately and the other half needs as much as four times the amount of instruction. It appears as though many of the students who struggle are doing so because of possible language issues. While English is the main language the majority of the students use, it is clear that there is another language being used outside the classroom.
In addition to a variety of capabilities there are a handful of students whom are displaying traits which may require an eventual shift to an Individualized Education Plan. These students, predominantly male, have a difficult time staying on task. Due to this, these students miss valuable instructions and quickly fall behind their peers.
Overall, the class is full of energy and some amazing individual personalities. An example of these personalities was noted with an assignment where the students were asked to think about where they would be in 50 years. One student suggested that he would be the next Elvis Presley. Another figured to be a housewife married to a rich dentist.

Daily Classroom Schedule
In what is now a seemingly popular schedule, Forestview arranges their days as follows:
Time Class
9:00 – 9:50 AM Literacy
9:50 – 10:40 AM Literacy
10:40 – 11:20 AM Nutrition Break
11:20 AM – 12:10 PM Math/Science/Social Studies
12:10 – 1:00 PM Math/Science/Social Studies/Library/Gym/Computers
1:00 – 1:40 PM Nutrition Break
1:40 – 2:30 PM
2:30 – 3:20 PM

The blanks after the first nutrition break vary dependent on the day.
For my observations, I observed Mrs. Bautista’s class until the second nutrition break. Thus, I was involved in the literacy portion of the student’s day. Having nearly two consecutive hours of literacy can be tiring for even the most effective students. To keep students attentive and motivated, Mrs. Bautista did an excellent job breaking up this time. Literacy is then broken up into Sustained Silent Reading (S.S.R.), World Wall, Reading Groups, and Classroom Calendar.
The S.S.R. is one of the more interesting components of the classes Literacy program. Students are given time to read whatever they please, and while many students take full advantage of this freedom reading graphic novels and gaming books, there is a concerning trend; the weakest readers appear to be very apathetic towards reading. Not only do these students have a difficult time picking out a book to read, they also lack a desire to read for any significant length of time. As seems to be a concern across all levels, the boys are typically less interested in reading then their female classmates.
Another interesting method of breaking up the literacy time is through assigning the students 25 minutes of computer time. The students have designated blocks and for the most part are able to independently log onto the computers and go to the appropriate programs-it is very obvious to tell which students have a computer at home, and which do not. During this block the students will go to Destination Reading a website that allows the students to interactively apply literary techniques from class.
After the first nutrition break, the students are typically involved in a mathematics lesson and an accompanying assignment. Sitting in groups of four, students are often encouraged to work with the student sitting next to them. The instruction involves a great deal of class involvement as well as many real-world connections.
While Mathematics is occasionally a double period, the students go in many directions from this point. Sometimes the students head to the computer lab, other times they are picked up by the Physical Education teacher. However, the students typically remain in the classroom for a period of Science or Social Studies.

Personal Reflection
Observing the students in Mrs. Bautista’s third grade classroom has been an exceptional experience. To date, I have spent time in first, second, third, and sixth grade classrooms, of which this experience has not only been the most beneficial, but also the most enjoyable.
My observations have been the most beneficial due to many of the strategies that the teacher implemented. Strategies which improved the learning experience for the students as well as keeping the classroom orderly and under control. Many of these strategies were ones that I had never experienced before, however each appeared to be simple enough to implement in any classroom.
‘On Task’ tickets are given out to students in order to keep them behaving well and as well as motivated. The students are given these tickets to be used for a weekly raffle. There is not a more interesting student behavior then when they realize a peer is receiving a ticket for following instructions and getting work done. As I mentioned to a student, the tickets should only be an added bonus to having less schoolwork and more free time once they arrive at home.
The ‘On Task’ tickets provide, as mentioned, peer motivation. This aligns with how the classroom is set up, where there is at least one student with strong abilities per grouping of four. One can easily observe how giving an ‘On Task’ ticket alters the behavior of the surrounding students.
Another method of altering student behavior is noted through the documentation of good table behavior. When a table is exceptionally well behaved, they will be rewarded with a ‘point’. Points are awarded for being on task, as well as being prepared for a change in subject, or nutrition breaks. The table with the most points at the end of the week is provided with additional time on the computers or will be first to be selected for nutrition breaks.
The classroom even has a reward system created for nutrition breaks. There are two of these in a day, the first, being where the reward system takes place. During this break, the students are encouraged to eat a healthier snack. Once the class has accumulated 200 ‘healthy snack’ points, they are awarded with a class video or additional computer or physical education period.
Forestview is blessed with having a portable SmartBoard accessible to the teachers. While this instructional media is highly coveted and not readily available, I did have the fortune of being in the classroom on a day when Mrs. Bautista reserved the board. While the features of this board are very impressive, the students seem to pay less attention to the lesson and more of the technology of the board.
However, as the students begin to see the board more frequently, they will be less impressed with the technology and follow closer with the lesson. This will also occur as the SmartBoard technology itself improves, making the possibilities of the board endless.
From what I observed, one of the major benefits of the SmartBoard is teaching the students the value of technology. Adding to the entertainment value of computers is important in order to encourage students to utilize them as a learning tool. Therefore, the teacher using the SmartBoard in the classroom as a part of the teaching process will encourage the students to use their computers at home as part of the learning process.
The class utilizes the forth INTASC Standard to an incredible degree. This is specifically noted within the Literacy portion of the student’s day. As mentioned, the students Literacy class is broken up into multiple segments, each of which is a change of pace from the next.
The most beneficial segment of the students English Language Arts (E.L.A.) is the daily calendar. During this segment, the students gather on a carpet and follow a routine in presenting the days schedule, classroom and personal news, as well as a brief discussion on the weather. Each week a different boy and girl from the class leads this exercise with the students altering tasks.
The students are required to speak in front of their peers presenting information provided by the teacher. As a class, the students will spell out the day of the week, the month, as well as the day number of the school year.
Other tasks include predicting what the classroom thermometer will read and graphing the actual results. Interestingly, this has encouraged the students to pay attention to the local forecast, which indirectly has the students keeping up to date with local news.
This exercise is now a well oiled machine, where the students know the steps extremely well and can do so independently, one of the greatest benefits of the daily calendar is with the students reporting news. The students are encouraged to share whatever they think is important but are also told to differentiate between what is news and what is a personal story. Noting this level of importance is a unique method of helping the students in their development with writing sentences and paragraphs.
While the classroom in continually changing speeds, going from independent work, to groups, from lessons, to experiments, the Ontario Literacy based curriculum appears to be negatively affecting the students. While Literacy is an immensely important part of an education, one can observe students who struggle with reading, now struggling in Mathematics.
This is specifically noted with two students, a boy and a girl. The boy simply seems uninterested in reading. He has no problem doing the Math itself or other non-reading assignments, but appears unwilling to read through the directions or problems presented within Math. With the research being done regarding “The Boy Problem” this could simply be a phase. However, with the literacy-centered curriculum, is this boy being left behind?
On the other hand, the girl has issues reading in general. While she does not appear to be socially behind her peers, and written assignments come without difficulty, it is easy to observe her struggles with written instructions. Thus, is it fair that this girl struggles in Math because her reading ability is less then it should be? Truth be told, I oftentimes have to read a question more then once before I understand what it is asking.
With all of this in mind, the teaching would be served well in creating more traditional math assignments for these students. In fact, this would not be a bad idea for the entire class, where the more literary minded students would be encouraged to understand what the question is asking despite a lack of words.
One of the major areas the class could improve on is within the Sustained Silent Reading (S.S.R.). While the idea in and of itself is an excellent one, the execution of the idea is different then what I would do. That is, the teacher utilizes the S.S.R. time for preparation, rather then silent reading. Those students who do not enjoy reading view this behavior and subsequently avoid reading themselves.
The utilization of S.S.R. to prepare would be similar to letting the students blindly participate in a science experiment, not modeling the appropriate science behaviors or procedures. In this area, the teacher failed to meet part of the sixth INTASC standard.
During my experience I was fortunate to observe an excellent teacher. One who prepared for every possibility and continually encouraged students to not only reflect upon the lesson at hand, but created many real-world comparisons. I also had the interesting experience of observing a substitute teacher and was taken back at the different method of behavior management.
While I was prepared for the substitute teacher, I was not prepared for such a different type of teacher. Where Mrs. Bautista had control of the classroom, while allowing the students to be children, the substitute had a very old-fashioned sense of discipline.
One of the first differences I noted was the substitute’s orders that the students sit properly in their seats, fidgeting was not allowed. There is a body of literature which suggests that students may be less focused on the lesson if they are told to sit straight and not fidget. With the research that is available today, this type of behavior management does not seem appropriate. In fact, this is something I commended Mrs. Bautista on allowing.
A second major difference I noted with the substitute was the tone of voice when disciplining the students. The substitutes lecturing and instructing voice was calm and soothing, however this was not the case when students acted out. Mrs. Bautista managed to keep the class under wraps despite rarely, if ever, raising her voice. Conversely, the substitute appeared to get annoyed quickly and displayed this frustration when disciplining the class.

Mrs. Bautista’s third grade classroom is ever changing. Her approach to teaching appears to be very affective and one which I would attempt to perform myself. Not only did the students clearly respect Mrs. Bautista, but they looked to her as the main source of knowledge. The students also had an understanding of Mrs. Bautista’s rules and desires for classroom activity.
As an extraordinarily organized teacher, it was an excellent experience to observe how a few lines of writing could turn into a 15 minute lesson. Classroom organization strategies such as student ‘mailboxes’ and subject ‘tubs’ are ones that I intend to take with me going forward. In addition, Mrs. Bautista had a few strategies for getting the students attention without raising her voice or disciplining the students (ie. “1-2-3, Eyes on me”, “High Five”, or the “Clap”).

This experience was also the first time I took full initiative within the classroom. I took it upon myself to act like a teacher instead of an observer. I developed relationships with the students and discovered methods to answer questions, as well as motivating the students.
During my time in the classroom I did not lead or teach any lessons, however I did help with the classroom calendar as well as a couple spelling tests. Being my first experience ‘in charge’ of a segment of class, this was also my first time speaking in front of students in this manner. Needless to say, the first couple of times I had issues keeping the students behaving properly and probably let a little too much slide.
This certainly helped build my confidence and understand methods to control the students. The students seemed to respond best when I would point out a student who was performing as I had requested.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Definition of Terms


1. Boy Code – Boys displaying macho behaviours, rebelling against anything detected as feminine.

2. Coddling – Asserted as something feminine. Showing an abundance of affection in a context where affection is not normally shown.

3. Culture – A specific social construction based on location, government, etc.

4. Feminine – A social perspective of how a female ought to be.

5. Feminization – “A process in which the number of women in an occupation increases until the occupation switches from being predominantly male to predominantly female” (Addi-Raccah, 2002, p. 231).

6. Gender – The social construction of physical and mental attitudes of a male or female.

7. Hegemony – A cultural belief of how something ought to be.

8. Laddish – The idea of boys being boys. Acting out in order to promote a strong masculine image.

9. Masculine – A social perspective of how a male ought to be.

10. Stereotype – A preconceived idea of what a person will do or should do. Ie. Some boys are good at math, thus, each one should be.

Sunday, July 27, 2008



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Bandura, A. (2007). Much ado over a faulty conception of perceived self-efficacy grounded in faulty experimentation. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 26(6), 641-658.

Bandura, A. (2001). Social cognitive theory: An agentic perspective. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 1-26.

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Bandura, A., Vittorio, C., Barbaranelli, C., Gerbino, M., and Pastorelli, C. (2003). Role of affective self-regulatory efficacy in diverse spheres of psychosocial functioning. Child Development, 74(3), 769-782.

Beaman, R., Wheldall, K., and Kemp, C. Differential teacher attention to boys and girls in the classroom. Education Review, 58(3), 339-366.

Carrington, B. (2002). A quintessentially feminine domain? Student teachers’ constructions of primary teaching as a careeer. Educational Studies, (28)2, 287-303.

Carrington, B., and McPhee, A. (2008). Boys’ ‘underachievement’ and the feminization of teaching. Journal of Education for Teaching, 34(2), 109-120.

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Dee, T. S. (2005). A teacher like me: Does race, ethnicity or gender matter? American Economic Review, 95(2).

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Literature Review - Feminization of Education

Feminization of Education

Gender expectations, as mentioned, are of extreme concern. Driesen (2007), however, argued that the achievement of boys or lack thereof, is not of a result of the feminization of primary education. Driesen asserted that the “percentage of women teaching is constantly increasing at the cost of the percentage of men” (p. 185). However, this is not seen as a negative according to the author. Despite acknowledging that the content and method in which it is being delivered is increasingly becoming feminine that does not support an argument to state that boys are being left behind with their education.

The argument, according to Driesen (2007), is that the decreasing amount of male role models, performing masculine activities, displaying an ability to have, as previously mentioned, masculine hegemony needs to be discussed, however not fixed. That is, while it is obvious there is a lack of males within primary education, it is not vital that this increases. Thus, one needs to answer the question, is achievement higher among male students with a female teacher or a male teacher?

Statistics have displayed the ever increasing amount of female primary teachers, specifically within the year two classes, where 98% of teachers are females. In addition to this, Driesen’s findings suggest that the amount of female teachers has risen very rapidly, with each class year representing an annual increase from 1996 to 2002.

With the numbers in mind, Driesen (2007) discussed what differences male and female teachers possess within their classrooms. Essentially, Driesen found that there is no difference among the genders in reference to training, job satisfaction, and other categories.

Weil (2008) asserted that female teachers are more soft-spoken and gentle with their approach in the classroom. Weil suggested that differences in classrooms can be seen with the most minor details such as room temperature, lighting, and color. Thus, while there may not be a difference in the overall attitude of a teacher, slight differences within the classroom could have a major effect on student achievement.

Furthermore, Driesen researched student achievement and the findings suggested that “neither the sex nor the ethnicity of the teachers have an effect [on achievement test scores]” (2007, p. 188). Furthermore, Driesen findings negated that of Dee’s, in asserting that the behavior of students does not differ with the gender of the instructor. “More men at the front of the class does not lead to better achievement and/or more favorable attitudes and behavior on the part of boys or – for that matter – girls” (Driesen, 2007, p. 199). Thus, feminization of education, has not had an affect on student achievement.

Debating Driesen’s assertion that the gender of an instructor does not make a difference with the achievement and behavior of students, Beaman et al. (2006) suggested that male students “dominate classroom interactions” (p. 339). On average, males receive about two-thirds of teacher attention during a class, however, this attention was predominantly given to a small amount of the male students and was typically when reprimanding the student. Furthermore, boys received “60% of student directed gaze”, which can be thought of as a form of reprimanding, or expecting the students to speak before they have spoken (Beaman et al., 2006, p. 343).

This extra attention is said to be due to a greater portion of boys having “special learning needs…[rather] than an issue of sex bias” (Beaman et al, 2006, p. 347). However, Beaman et al. also reported that boys were receiving “significantly more negative feedback than girls” (p. 348). In fact, interviews from teachers report that “both male and female teachers, [found that] girls were seen to offer much less of a management challenge” (Beaman et al., 2007, p. 350). Disruptive boys were found to be talking without being picked on and having difficulties staying on task. This disruption, Weil (2008) wrote, is simply boys being boys and should be used as a positive factor, rather then a negative. That is, a teacher should utilize the high energy a young boy brings to the classroom rather then punishing him for it. Beaman et al. write that the tolerance level for boys is less then that of girls, which causes a higher number of reprimands. In fact, teachers should allow boys to be more active as those are the behaviors which will be utilized in future endeavors.

Myhill and Jones (2006) asserted that teachers are treating boys differently then girls and that school are simply amplifying the stereotypes of society. Furthermore, “girls are constructed as the good student while boys are viewed as the interesting person” (Myhill & Jones, 2006, p. 100). Increasingly, teachers are labeling boys as negative and in need of greater discipline and structure. Conversely, girls are seen as harder workers with superior organization skills. The combination of females being the ideal student and the lack of males within schools, Beaman et al. (2007) wrote, is resulting in boys viewing school and consequently education, as being feminine.

The discussion however is not focused on the behavior of boys and girls, rather the achievement. Beaman et al. (2007) assert that the achievement gap for boys and girls has increased and that boys in general are having worse overall performances. It is then asserted that teachers have a “low[er] expectation of boys” (Myhill & Jones, 2006, p. 101). Thus, boys struggles are expected, and therefore not noted as readily.

Reminiscent of Carrington, Beaman et al. (2006) wrote that often the actions of boys are often promoted as the construction of masculinity. Furthermore, these antics, which often lead to the student being named the class clown, also are referred to as the favourite. This however, is not always a positive outcome and typically results in the student being a poor influence within the classroom and consequently disrupting behaviour.

With this acting out in mind, Beaman et al. (2006) asserted that male students are over-represented within special education programs. That is, of students whom are defined as having special needs, 70% are boys (Beaman et al., 2006). This over-whelming figure, can be attested due to “boys showing disruptive behaviour” as well as a lack of reading achievement (Beaman et al., 2006, p. 359). Both issues, the authors write, appear to be a result of boys not behaving appropriately within the classroom. That is, the boys are acting like boys and not similar to the ideal student or female way.

Special education issues can also be chalked up to teacher referrals, according to Beaman et al. (2006). Gender bias, is noted when reviewing students in need of special education and their subsequent referral agents. That is, disruptive behaviour could cause a student to be referred to special education despite no real need for special education. This assertion is given further credence with the understanding that “teachers tend to refer students who bothered them in the classroom” (Beaman et al., 2006, p. 360). Furthermore, “only 36% of teacher-referred students met the district criteria for learning disability services” (Beaman et al., 2006, p. 360). Thus, it is evident that students who are being referred for special education are inappropriately being referred and it is hypothesized that the prominence of boys is due to disruptive behaviour rather then actual learning issues.

There is a belief that a greater male presence within primary education would decrease the anti-school perspective that many boys have (Myhill & Jones, 2006). Additionally, the behaviours of boys would be improved if the culture within primary education was made more masculine. That is, “boys were indeed reprimanded more than girls, [and] girls’ misdemeanours often passed unnoticed or ignored” (Myhill & Jones, 2006, p. 102). Thus, an increase in male teachers would consequently lower the “disproportionate negative responses to boys” (Beaman et al., 2006, p. 362) and improve the overall environment of primary education. There are, perceptions that teachers have on boys and girls which causes for a negative opinion towards boys and a positive one for girls.

Furthermore, “teachers bring their beliefs and assumptions into the classroom with them, and these perceptions, consciously or unconsciously, manifest themselves in their own teaching practice” (Myhill & Jones, 2006, p. 110). These beliefs include viewing boys as a problem and girls as an ideal student. Furthermore, because of these beliefs, it is likely that girls will receive more attention then boys, especially that of positive attention. Specifically, boys receive an unfair amount of negative attention from teachers.

Receiving negative attention from teachers can reaffirm that a boy is not in his element within education. Male disaffection, Carrington and McPhee (2008) wrote, is bordering on a moral dilemma. That is, focusing on the opinions of boys, which is required considering the growing gender gaps in student achievement, and neglecting the results which are promoting females at a never seen before rate, could be deemed as sexist. However, changes are being made because “policy-makers have tended to assume that there is a casual relationship between the feminization of the teaching profession, the gender gap in achievement, and male disaffection from school” (Carrington & McPhee, 2008, p. 110). Thus, education reforms are focused on encouraging the development of male students.

Furthermore, studies have shown that children relate to teachers of the same gender (Carrington & McPhee, 2008). The feminization of primary education has additionally had an effect on “process of teaching and learning” (Carrington & McPhee, 2008, p. 110). That is, everything that a female brings to the classroom, be it teaching style, or the classroom layout, is having an effect on the students.

The addition of more men in the teaching profession would add needed father figures to children end need (Carrington & McPhee, 2008). This, would widen the experiences of boys within the classroom, as well as providing an encouraging positive role model. Keep in mind that every teacher, regardless of gender, is referred to as a role model. A gender model however can add a sense of encouragement for a young boy to follow through with positive academic behaviours.

Participants in the survey Carrington and McPhee (2008) conducted, suggest that there is a need of more men in primary schools. However, the opinions of why more men is necessary varied by gender. Females, for example, “were more likely to perceive an enhanced male presence in the sector, as being conductive to the maintenance of discipline, particularly in the early years” (Carrington & McPhee, 2008, p. 117).

Further observations from the study, as noted by Carrington and McPhee (2008), were that many teachers saw themselves “as symbols of academic achievement” (p. 117). Being a model of academic success could help encourage students to pursue academia. This is especially pertinent for male learners whom view education as feminine. That is, viewing more males at the front of the classroom would encourage students to believe that teaching, and consequently learning, are not female activities.

The feminization of education has created a more girl friendly environment which has resulted in the under-achievement of boys (Skelton, 2002). In addition to this, feminization “has created an alleged shift towards the privileging of female learning styles, assessment practices, modes of discipline, and so forth” (Skelton, 2002, p. 86). Furthermore, daily routines and management practices are becoming more and more feminine as fewer and fewer males enter the teaching profession.

An argument presented against feminization of education is presented by Skelton (2002) whom asserted that one would have to “assume that females only act in stereotypical feminine ways and males in stereotypical masculine ways” (p. 91). Furthermore, the term feminization assumes that an intentional shift has been created in order to favour females. This would be inaccurate considering the rate of men whom are members of administration or principals.

In addition to utilizing men as a means to model appropriate and desired educational outcomes for male students, males can provide a positive appearance of teaching as a whole (Skelton, 2002). That is, teaching is considered as women’s work and does not have a much higher status then babysitting.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Literature Review - Need for a Male Presence

In Need of a Rare Breed?

There is a growing body of literature which asserts that there is a need for more males within primary education. As previously noted, men make up fewer then 20% of the primary teachers in North America. Additionally within this literature is the ideology that boys are struggling due to a lack of male role models (Sokal, Katz & Cheszewski, 2007). Struggling is due to the thinking that education is a feminine activity. The authors asserted that this is embedded in the minds of children at an early age as mothers are traditionally the ones that are encouraging academic behaviours. It is thus suggested that gender identity is formed and encouraged through “same-sex role models” (Sokal et al., 2007, p. 652).

Same gendered role models help children make predictions about gender roles. According to Sokal et al. (2007), “children learn the cultural stereotypes associated with both sexes, but they learn about their own sex more quickly and elaborately” (p. 652). Thus, the information students gather from their teachers will consequently result in the creation of their opinions of how they ought to be.

The attitudes toward reading that have been negatively formulated through viewing reading as feminine will consequently result in a lack of desire to read. However, according to Sokal et al. (2007), boys who were taught by a male teacher had a less negative opinion of reading compared to that of a boy who was taught by a female. Additionally, boys who worked with a male instructor “developed a less feminized view of reading and had better perceptions of their social feedback about their reading skills” (Sokal et al., 2007, p. 656). This is then an example of why a male instructor is vital for the development of boys within academia.

This self-perception of reading and reading ability is the only factor that the research of Sokal et al. (2007) found to be relevant. That is, the reading achievement levels of students taught by a male or a female do not differ significantly. The research supported the idea that the feminine characteristic of coddling plays a role in a student’s achievement. Furthermore, “the research suggests that female teachers provide more verbal and non-verbal praise to students than do male teachers” (Sokal et al., 2007, p. 656). Thus leading to primary education being less about learning, and more about making students feel good about them.

The authors then concluded that the strategic hiring of male teachers would not positively affect student outcomes, specifically that of boys (Sokal et al., 2007). In fact, the assertion is that this strategy may negatively affect student outcomes.

Agreeing with this conclusion, Ailwood (2003) debated why the concentration of recruiting males into education and improving the outcomes of male students does not take into account the outcomes of female students. Further research needs to be put in place to discover what exactly the issue is with the underachievement of boys. For example, the author believes that socio-economic, political, and cultural issues are equally as important. Furthermore, Australian indigenous boys and girls, for example, are at an academic disadvantage. Thus, academic policies should be created while asking “which girls, which boys” (Ailwood, 2003, p. 22)? Ailwood wants a policy to be made “where girls and boys are understood to be equally, but differently disadvantaged by the education system” (p. 21). That is to say, while there may be a boy problem, there may also be a problem relating to girls.

Politically, Ailwood (2003) questioned how the problem with male achievement is affecting children long term. That is, females in Australia are make 83 cents to every dollar a male earns. This difference is similar to the assertion that “unequal division of influence and reward in the education establishment” (Sanders, 1997, paragraph 8). Furthermore, Ailwood asserted that “success in education does not necessarily translate into career success for women” (p. 23). Additionally, girls, Ailwood wrote, “remain less likely to follow economically successful post-secondary pathways, a disadvantage which is compounded by the growing need for women to be economically self-sufficient” (p. 24). These are all examples of how females are underprivileged and why the focus to improve the education of boys should focus on improving education for everyone, not simply boys.

Masculine privilege, Ailwood (2003) wrote, limits the concern for females within education. That is, with a change in primary education to enhance the achievement of boys, females may be left behind. Furthermore, Australian policy encourages girls to go into non-traditional female career paths and to take courses in maths and sciences. This, however, is further reinforcing the fact that language arts and humanities courses are feminine and thus, less valuable.

Through asserting that feminine subjects are less valuable, the education departments are creating a segregation of gender. Addi-Raccah (2002) wrote, that “school structures serve as a mechanism for gender segregation and for the reproduction of gender power relations in the society at large” (p. 244). This segregation debates the ideology that men are not interested in becoming teachers; rather, they are socially encouraged to find a different career. Furthermore, if a male does pursue a career within education, he is more likely to advance through the ranks into administration. Additionally, men are likely to teach in better schools, either in terms of economics or location.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Literature Review - Role Models

The Role Model

The literature goes into detail regarding role models, beginning with Thorne (1994) who finds that boys and girls are still being segregated in the activities they perform even on the school play grounds. “Many boys, and a sprinkling of girls spread across large grassy fields, playing games of baseball, soccer, or football. The spaces where girls predominate, playing jump rope or foursquare or standing around talking, lie closer to the school building” (Thorne, 1994, p. 1). This, according to Thorne, is not a matter of decision, rather the individual’s social construction of how they ought to be. Thorne writes that “if boys and girls are different, they are not born but made that way” (p. 2). That is, there is a belief that boys and girls are socially constructed to be how they are, whether it be in play or in social desires.

The student’s actions, Sadker and Zittleman (2005) did not see them as the major problem; rather it is that teachers expect the boys and girls to act differently. Boys, the authors wrote, are expected to rebel against school work, whereas girls are expected to be conforming and hard working. Those expectations reflect gender stereotyping, which is of equal importance to the subject stereotyping that has only recently been improved.

This new form of gender stereotyping is due to boys feeling as if the language arts are feminine and could consequently threaten their masculinity (Sadker & Zittleman, 2005). The gender stereotyping is reaffirmed as girls, on average, receive superior grades on their report cards. Conversely, boys score higher on standardized tests, including verbal sections on the SAT Reasoning Test. This then could be chalked up to a possible in-class gender bias where boys enact upon a ‘boy code’ which suppresses dependency.

Agreeing with Sadker and Zittleman, Preece, Skinner, and Riall (1999) wrote that “male underachievement in schools has recently captured the headlines in the [United Kingdom], with substantially higher proportion of females now gaining high[er] grades” (p. 979). Preece et al. studied whether or not there was an actual gender difference within test scores. In doing so, the authors concluded that the written test had no real gender biases and that content should be chosen based on the educational importance rather than by gender preference.

Additionally, a fight for dominance within a class can reinforce a male’s negative behavior in the classroom (Keddie, 2006). That is, the disruptive behaviors of a boy may be a result of the individual wanting to be what he views as being male. It is then the boys’ assumptions of gendered behavior that results in disruptive actions in the classroom. Thus, hegemonic masculinity “can also be seen as ‘at odds’ with this destructive process” (Keddie, 2006, p. 533). That is, boys are being socially encouraged, according to Keddie, to fight against the social norms of education.

Furthermore, there is research to support the fact that boys are typically less enthusiastic about school then girls are (Gray & McLellan, 2006). This only worsened as boys developed through school, although the research does not specify why that is (Gray & McLellan). However, it ought to be understood that students in general were relatively positive about school (Gray & McLellan).

Revisiting the boy code, Sadker and Zittleman (2005) wrote that “boys typically attribute success to intelligence and failure to bad luck or insufficient effort” (p. 30). Additionally, boys are said to avoid subjects which are typically dominated by females, which include music, art, and reading (Sadker & Zittleman, 2005). Furthermore, an attitude which does not promote hard work, as well as lacking the desire to be open within their educational pursuits, boys are being socially molded into what a man ought to be.

However, what is it that a man ought to be? Skelton (1999) showed that a man (that of the middle-class, heterosexual sort) ought to be intelligent and proficient. However, this deviates from a study conducted where the findings discussed that male teachers were likely to protect their masculinity by discussing his “athletic prowess, [as well as] having a laugh, (not) looking smart, and having a good time with his mates (pupils)” (Skelton, 1999, p. 23). It needs to be understood, however, that these actions are found within the small amount of men that are in primary education, an area of education that is specifically avoided by men due to the perception that “working with young children [is viewed] as ‘women’s work’” (Skelton, 1999, p. 23). This is emphasized by the influence masculinity has on society where the traditions are strongly heterosexual (Jones, 2003).

Male primary teacher’s, Skelton (1999) found, intended to keep a sense of ‘laddish’ behaviors, to promote their heterosexuality. That is, the male teacher had more of a coach mentality then that of a teacher, in promoting a ‘team spirit’ while utilizing humor as a teaching tactic (Skelton, 1999). Promoting this sense of team and sport falls short of the masculine hegemonic values of intelligence and proficiency that was previously asserted. That is, if students are to discover the construction of how specific genders are to perform (Jones). Therefore, the teacher is not doing the class justice by acting in a way that does not promote the values of masculine hegemony.

Gender roles are constructed though viewing and doing appropriate gendered behaviors-which are set out by a specific society, and culture (Sabbe & Aelterman, 2007). Children, are continually performing their gender. Additionally, performances are viewed as correct or incorrect in terms of the social orders. Correct gender actions are viewed in terms of what it is a person should do to be male and what they should not do. Furthermore, gender “is thought of as dichotomous and it is assumed that everyone falls into one (and only one) of two clearly distinct categories” (Sabbe & Aetlerman, 2007, p. 525). This further promotes gender inequity in suggesting males ought to act one way, and females ought to act another.

Studies, according to Sabbe and Aetlerman, show that men and women do not differ in achievements of their students, however “when significant differences arise, women are more often held in higher regard than are men” (2007, p. 526). Furthermore, teaching is not gender neutral. That is, social and cultural aspects affect the manner in which individuals display themselves.

Conversely, female students, according to Skelton (1999), are supposed to act cooperatively, while displaying characteristics of “empathy and nurturance” (p. 25). Interestingly, these characteristics are similar to what many view a teacher to be. That is, a hypothesis of why males are straying from becoming primary teachers is due to the inability to be both masculine and a ‘caring nurturer’, which is said to be the ideal characteristics of a teacher. It is then seen for men, that primary education is a “passive or weak” profession, which would take a man to be a ‘wimp’ (Jones, 2003, p. 572).

Additionally, the perception of girls among educators is that they are “better organized and more independent learners” (Beaman et al., 2007, p. 351). In addition to this, the female students are also found to have superior communication skills, are more articulate and boast superior confidence then boys. These skills, which teachers believe play a role in the high-achievement of girls, are seen as ideal and thus, girls are labeled as the ideal student. “Being an ideal student in school may not necessarily deliver better outcomes in the post-school years, however. It may be that compliant girls are more of a benefit to their teachers than they are to themselves” (Beaman et al., 2007, p. 354). That is, while some teachers may agree with the quiet and orderly conduct typically displayed by female students; this may hinder the child’s ability to learn.

Jones (2003) wrote that it takes a certain type of man to be an effective primary school teacher. The amount of female teachers, a study found, in comparison with the distribution of males within primary schools in the United Kingdom, is believed to be unhealthy and abnormal. In consideration of the disproportionate amount of males within primary education, Jones asserted the lack of men may infect schools with an abundance of emotion.

Furthermore, Jones (2003) asserted that male students are especially in need of the positive role model. The assumption is, that a lack of same-gender role models has led to boys viewing education as being feminine and thus acting out in what Carrington (2002) refers to as ‘laddish’ behaviors. That is, this rebellion against education is said to be “a consequence of the dearth of male ‘role models’ in the primary schools” (Carrington, 2002, p. 287). Boys then are acting out, in order to rebel against their female instructors. In addition to this, lacking men in primary education also affects “the daily routines and educational practices” (Carrington, 2002, p. 288). That is, even male teachers are being feminized through association.

A further discussion of the role men play within education, Carrington (2002) writes is that of the disciplinarian. Thus, as a consequence of student behaviors, male teachers are encouraged to teach the older grades and further limit the amount of men in the primary grades. Furthermore, it has been found “that male teachers have a crucial part to play in fostering positive attitudes…among young boys” (Carrington, 2002, p. 297). These positive attitudes are vital to encouraging academic growth amongst male students in elementary education, and beyond.

Dee (2005) discussed how gender gaps are “viewed as a prominent policy concern” (p. 1). Throughout this discussion, the author raised the question of how demographics contribute to classroom dynamics and thus asserts that gender equity is required within schools and consequently within teacher training programs as well as within professional development programs. However, Dee suggested that teachers need to be role-models, which is something that cannot be taught. Being a role-model will “raise a student’s academic motivation and expectations” (p. 3). That is, the behaviors of a teacher will reflect what a successful academic career can lead too.

Beaman et al. (2006) noted that children see sex roles passively and consequently absorb how to act appropriately. Thus, a student’s motivation can be affected by the teacher as the student can feel as though he or she is being stereotyped (Dee, 2005).

Dee (2005) gathered data from a study where teachers and students were surveyed. The portion of the survey which Dee concentrated the research on is that of the teacher comments and reflections where demographics were matched with overall teacher impressions. That is, the analysis specifically discussed how teachers of a specific gender viewed the genders of his or her students.

The findings Dee (2005) generated suggested that there was a relationship between teacher impression and student behavior. However, there is not a separation within the data, rather, compiling gender into one category. That is, the gender of the teacher, whether male or female, is referred to as ‘OTHSEX’ and consequently, the teachers answered based on the gender of the opposite sex. The findings of the study then suggest that teachers found that students of the opposite sex were perceived as being more disruptive, less attentive, and completes homework less frequently. It was also found that opposing genders had a great affect on the teacher’s impression of the students then race, ethnicity, and social class. Furthermore, race and ethnicity, has a strong relationship with socioeconomic status.

In consideration of the teacher’s impressions of student gender, it is interesting to note how a student develops his or her gendered identity. Davies (1989) wrote, “the individual is not so much the product of some process of social construction that results in some relatively fixed end-product but is constituted and reconstituted through the various discursive practices in which they participate” (p. 229). That is, a student’s development within the classroom can be affected by the instructor’s preconceived ideas of the student. Thus, if an instructor expects a student to fail, the student is more likely to fail, and therefore lack academic successes.

With the ever decreasing rate of males within the teaching profession-specifically within elementary (National Education Association, 2004), commentators have showed that that there is a sexism being placed on male students, that males are being victims of a feminist movement (Sadker, 1999). One of the reasons behind this, is that “the majority of college students are women” and that percentage is ever increasing (Sadker, 1999, p. 22). This however, is not limiting the amount of stereotyped gender roles; rather, it is only encouraging them. That is, “males who express an interest in careers typically thought of as ‘feminine’ also encounter social pressures” (Sadker, 1999, p. 24). This is resulting in fewer men entering the teaching profession, as well as the males who do enter from losing a sense of masculinity.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Literature Review - Introduction

Discovering how gender affects the educational outcomes for both boys and girls leads to interesting findings. There appears to be a substantial divide between the results that are noted between boys and girls in the elementary ages. However in all the findings, few, if any, are dissecting the results without having a prior opinion on the subject. Additionally, researchers appear to be ignoring ideas such as Bandura’s social learning theory when attempting to conclude why a situation may be the way it is. The review of the literature will Review the literature which discusses students’ need for a role model, the affect of the feminization of education, and the need for males in elementary classrooms, through the lens of Bandura’s self-efficacy.

Gender is an important issue within elementary education given how few males, according to the NEA, are present in the classroom. Sadker and Zittleman linked this idea through stating,

In reality, gender bias is very much an issue for both boys and girls, an issue too many educators fail to see. For example, can you imagine a teacher organizing a spelling bee by matching black students against white students? Certainly not in today’s society.

But consider the same teacher organizing the same activity by gender, boys against girls. That’s a practice so common that it has become an acceptable, unquestioned part of school life…Still, we see some schools separating girls and boys in lunchrooms, class lines, playgrounds, and school buses (Sadker & Zittleman, 2005, p. 27).

There is, then, not only an obvious gender bias within education, but similarly a bias towards gender bias. Sadker and Zittleman (2005) asserted that those who claim there is a gender issue within primary education, utilizing statistics which state girls are outscoring boys on standardized tests, should be careful what impact de-feminizing education will have on the girls. That is, there is a potential for negative results to occur on girls within classrooms if they are taught by predominantly males rather than predominantly females.