You see it in every schoolyard: the girls play only with the girls, the boys play only with the boys. Why? And what do the kids think about this? Breaking with familiar conventions for thinking about children and gender, Gender Play develops fresh insights into the everyday social worlds of kids in elementary schools in the United States. Barrie Thorne draws on her daily oYou see it in every schoolyard: the girls play only with the girls, the boys play only with the boys. Why? And what do the kids think about this? Breaking with familiar conventions for thinking about children and gender, Gender Play develops fresh insights into the everyday social worlds of kids in elementary schools in the United States. Barrie Thorne draws on her daily observations in the classroom and on the playground to show how children construct and experience gender in school. With rich detail,she looks at the "play of gender" in the organization of groups of kids and activities - activities such as "chase-and-kiss," "cooties," "goin' with" and teasing. Thorne observes children in schools in working-class communities, emphasizing the experiences of fourth and fifth graders. Most of the children she observed were white, but a sizable minority were Latino, Chicano, or African American. Thorne argues that the organization and meaning of gender are influenced by age, ethnicity, race, sexuality, and social class, and that they shift with social context. She sees gender identity not through the lens of individual socialization or difference, but rather as a social process involving groups of children. Thorne takes us on a fascinating journey of discovery, provides new insights about children, and offers teachers practical suggestions for increasing cooperative mixed-gender interaction....
|Title||:||Gender Play: Girls and Boys in School|
|Number of Pages||:||252 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
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Gender Play: Girls and Boys in School Reviews
Okay, a bit of background. I’m writing my thesis on school marketing materials. Mostly I’m interested in how schools from various social settings go about presenting themselves to the people they would like to attract to their schools and therefore what that might say about how we see education in general in society, but also how different social classes, genders and ethnicities might see the education system and be included or excluded by it. One of the things I’m particularly interested in is social stereotypes and how these might end up being included in the school marketing materials.Part of what I’ve been doing in my reseaech is called a ‘content analysis’ of these materials – including the images that are selected to be included in them. You know, a photo of a girl in a lab coat holding a test tube, photo of a group of boys playing football – count the instances and see if there are any patterns. What gets photographed, what doesn’t get photographed, what might that say about different schools?Anyway, one of the more interesting things I’ve found is about gender and social class. If you line up the schools according to the proportion of girls that attend that school you can see that in the co-ed schools there are very few that have more than 50% of the students who are female. BUT there are quite a few of these schools that have much fewer girls than this. In fact, in my sample of schools there is one school that has as few as 36% of the students who are female. Why? Well, it is the old story that if you have a daughter you want them to go to a single sex school and if you have a son you want them to go co-ed. Boys are trouble, and girls can be used to moderate their behaviour – so there are benefits for boys going co-ed and benefits for girls going single sex. I also counted up the number of boys and girls that are included in school marketing materials and graphed those proportions beside the actual proportion of girls that attended the schools. For co-educational private schools there was virtually no difference between the proportion of girls in the images and those in the schools themselves. That wasn’t the case with the government schools. Here there was an average of 10% more girls in the images than in the schools and this got worse the fewer girls there were in the school itself. So much so that in some of the schools with the fewest girls there were over 70% of the kids in the photos being girls. This wasn’t just related to the actual proportion of girls in the school, but also to the social class of the schools – the higher the social class the less it was concerned with inflating the proportion of girls in the school, so that one of the highest social class government schools with only about 40% of the students being female in the school had even fewer girls than that in its marketing materials.But the thing that really got me interested in all this was the fact that for many of the co-educational schools there were large numbers of images of boys and girls interacting together in photographs – either in class or outside of class – and that really hasn't been my experience of schools at all. The problem is that you can’t really write in your thesis, ‘check out how many images there are of boys and girls working together – that’s not been my experience’ – you have to quote some expert. I’d read something about this in a book called Answering Back – I’m nearly certain the authors said, ‘of course (remembered quotes generally start with ‘of course’) boys and girls hardly ever work together unless they are forced to by the teacher’ – but I’ve gone through the damn book three times now and can’t find the frigging quote anywhere. Earlier in the year I read a book called The Men and The Boys by Connell (I haven’t reviewed it yet, but must eventually) and that pretty well gave me enough to reference something that basically said what I wanted to say. But I was still a bit annoyed, to be honest. I figured there just had to be more on this. So, that is why I started searching for a book on girls and boys interacting at school and how I found this book.Look, there are still problems. This book focuses on primary school kids, so it isn’t entirely relevant. It is also a bit old now and American – so you could argue that it isn’t relevant on those scores too. But this is a really interesting book and on a remarkably interesting subject I haven’t paid nearly enough attention to.I liked how the author talks about the difficulties of being an ethnographer in schools and the odd power dynamics this presents. She is trying to see the kids mucking about and so, by definition, that is going to be hard if she is perceived by the kids as being ‘one of the teachers’. But then, the teachers are hardly going to be delighted having an adult in the classroom that seems to be going out of their way to undermine the teacher’s authority. I’ve been reading educational research for a number of years now and I’m starting to wonder if any of us ever actually get over the trauma of growing up? She mentions in passing some things that happened to her in relation to the popular kids in her school days and how they made her feel about herself and then how seeing much the same stuff being re-enacted in front of her in her research also made her feel. Hmm.This book goes some way to challenge how we allow gender to be performed in schools. It questions the standard beliefs around boys and girls fitting into two separate and mutually exclusives giant camps and discusses ways in which more inclusive interactions can be established and maintained between the sexes. As she says towards the end of this, engaging in inter-gender relationships isn’t a preparation for later life, it is what life is actually about. And yet by creating a world where boys and girls are essentially strangers or ‘lovers…oohh!’ is pretty close to the worst of all possible preparations for life. This is related to how we have sexualised childhood, and I mean that as it is said, not just that we colour code children as pink and blue and so sex their worlds, but that too often we also sexualise interactions between children well before this would seem entirely necessary. The opposite tendency occurs too, where we deny any sexual aspects to childhood behaviour in an oddly prudish Late Modern Victorianism. The idea that children can and should have friends (intra and inter gender friends) and that friendship is as good a start to ongoing relationships (sexual or otherwise) is how this book ends, and it really is such a good place to end. We do need to do more to allow spaces for such friendships to become normalised.This really isn’t about stopping kids of the same gender from playing together –it is about recognising that often it is what teachers themselves do in the classroom that helps to create and accentuate gender divisions and that these can be harmful and pointlessly counter productive. Allowing spaces for girls and boys to play and work together and therefore to become friends ought to be one of the things schools do.There is a really lovely bit in this where the researcher is chatting to a little girl and a boy walks past them without acknowledging either of them at all. The girl whispers to the researcher something like, ‘you know, he is one of my closest friends outside of school’. But they never acknowledge each other at school as it would only mean they would be subject to heterosexual shaming by the other students. Don’t you think that is an awfully sad thing?
I read excerpts from this book when I was in college. Now, a few years on, I decided to read the whole thing on a whim. It's a good, meaty discussion of the ways that girls and boys are socialized differently in schools. It contains strands of analysis that will already be familiar to anyone with an interest in women's studies, but the specific school research gives fascinating examples of how teachers – and the learning institution itself – consciously and unconsciously divide students down gender lines.In comparison to most sociology texts, which are generally dry, Thorne writes in a clear and engaging manner. The book is, nonetheless, slightly repetitive, including reiteration of Thorne's points that a casual (i.e. non-scholarly) reader will find unnecessary. Published more than fifteen years ago, using research from the 1980s, it's an understandably dated book. However, it's still an interesting read that even modern readers should get a lot out of.
This is a great introductory book for those interesting in questioning the gender binary. It was an interesting companion to Sociology of Gender class but what's best about it is that it's accessible in it's language for those not familiar with sociological terms. I recommend this to anyone interested in gender's place in society and it's relation to children. The author is revolutionary in changing the investigation of gender from why we have gender to how gender happens. The better we understand how the better we can deconstruct and understand gender's place in society.
Did not like this at all. Read for a class. Horrible experience.
This book brought back fond memories of childhood and elementary school. It was interesting thinking about seemingly arbitrary activities, such as the Poison Game, in a new light.
An interesting view on studying gender but I didn't completely agree with the arguments presented.
Important reading for all teachers or teachers-to-be.
Gender Play: Girls and Boys in School by Barrie Thorne (1993)
another good book for educators to read, helping us to realize how we enforce gender roles in the classroom, even when we don't mean to.