There’s so much talk nowadays about gender. Binary, non-binary, fluid, female, male, the list seems never ending especially when the majority of us have been brought up knowing only two and those two have been so separated that we find it difficult to see how they can merge.
A few weeks ago there was an incredibly interesting programme on BBC One investigating if a gender neutral classroom would aid a child’s learning, the clip above is taken from this programme.Now I won’t lie and say I wasn’t sceptical about this to begin with as it’s so ingrained into our attitudes towards gender that they should be separate and even as quite an open minded 19 year old I still think that. Spoiler Alert; my mind was changed.
This programmes showed how making small changes in a classroom can increase confidence, help children express emotions and breakdown gender stereotypes all in a one-r! Our society is full of little niggles of discrimination and its not until you think about them that you notice them. The pupils in the Primary 3 class took a short test to evaluate their thoughts and abilities to be able to track their progression throughout the experiment. The first thing that was “abolished” so to speak was the teacher using separate pet names for boys and girls to encourage the children to stop seeing each other as different, something so simple made a huge difference on the children’s mind set. One of the actions to be taken that really interested me was that positive slogan were put up around the round further embedding the fact that boys and girls are the same into the everyday lives of the children. “Boys are funny”, “Girls are clever”, “Boys are sensitive” and “Girls are strong” were just a few of the positive messages but this was done with the aim of improving the confidence of the girls in the classroom. During the initial test they found that the girls in the class were underestimating themselves about their performances and achievements while the boys managed to accurately predict their performances. I just found this so interesting as I couldn’t think of their upbringings being much different between boys and girls but through media and the world around us girls as young as 7 thought so lowly of themselves.
In our workshop we were shown the clip above and I just think this clip really encapsulates how our society views gender. Whether or the not the adults meant it, they automatically were drawn towards the stereotypical choice of toys and even in some cases they were deciding the children liked these better. It was so interesting to see how the adults unconsciously made these decisions even though they were actually playing with a child of the opposite gender.
Slowly but surely our society is beginning to see the problems that these gender stereotypes have created and while it won’t happen tomorrow, we are on the way to a more equal world referring to gender.