I’ll be honest, my primary school days seem like a very long time ago! When I think back, I can honestly say that there were no occasions when I was made to feel different or separate due to my gender. For me, this all began when I moved into secondary school and started making subject (and later career) choices. One particular example was when choosing our work experience placements; it was clear to see that the boys were being placed in more manual roles whereas many girls were steered towards the caring settings.
During my primary school years I was lucky to have a mix of male and female teachers. I think that this was important and very beneficial to me as each teacher brings their own individual style and it can be argued that males and females approach tasks differently. While attending placements in recent years, I have often found that primary teaching is female dominated. I hope that this is a trend that will change as I truly feel that strong role models from both sexes provide children with the greatest school experience.
When I was at school, it tended to be the case that girls played with other girls and boys played with other boys. It would be unusual for a girl to have a boy as a best friend. It seems that this attitude has begun to change, as when I observed the children in some of my placements, girls and boys seemed to be far more mixed during their free play time.
Although I believe it is important to recognise and celebrate the differences between individuals, I do not think that gender should be used for separation and categorisation. It should never impact on the opportunities or experiences that children are given.
After writing this, I stumbled across this article which is a really interesting read about a 7 year old transgender child and how the school went about supporting them. It is a lovely success story and really encouraging to see the steps that can be taken so that each and every child’s needs can be met. I think this ties in with the ethos of GIRFEC where children are listened to and their views are taken seriously. Sadly, the article goes on to say that many schools are not so understanding. I think that the heads of these schools need to consider their overall goal and address their out-dated views in order to meet the needs of today’s children.
This quote stood out to me: “As teachers, we have to educate everyone about difference and not segregate.” (Barnes, founder of Educate and Celebrate)