Most often educational settings “socializes students into an authoritative and unequal social order that claims allegiance to freedom and equality” (Tozer 2009). With this in mind the question is this: if “separate but equal” can hold up in the court of equality when the question is no longer race, but the aptitude of the sexes; if and how does hegemony affect men and women in the High School setting. First I will examine the way hegemony is created amongst the two genders, determine ethical issues that come from it, how that factor goes against a teacher’s mission without preventative measures (if any exist).
As children we are naturally drawn to the people more like us. Studies have shown throughout a child’s K-12 journey a child will select everything from who they sit with during lunch to who they share their deepest secrets with based on who they identify with the most. Jacon Moreno states “sociometry is…a theory and then a method of how to gather the really vital facts about the interindividual relationships among people living in social groups”, one could easily draw the conclusion that sociometry is a factor in hegemony. During dances in elementary school it is often well noted that boys typically stay on one side of the room and girls stay on the other side. This behavior is echoed throughout the years and show in up in the behavior of both male and female high school students. One could suggest this self separation in the genders attribute to the hegemony in not only high school, but in life. Numerous studies show men and women feel the opposite sex communicates in a foreign language
Genderlect is the term used to summarize the communication differences between men and women. Tannen has researched the communication differences between men and women for decades and came to the conclusion that women want to connect via conversation, while men seek status. Men typically bring up facts to support their claims while women will discuss feelings, relationships and people more. In avoiding using emotional talk, they are avoiding showing weakness in their eyes. Could this be the source of the thought process of women being “indecisive” and “too emotional” to handle hard tasks such as running a company or understanding complex situations such as math or science? Some studies show that while women have grown and adapted to work environments previously dominated (and some would still argue still monopolized) by men, some men actually acknowledge that their sex has yet to actually broaden their communication range.
For centuries, men have been at the top of the power chain while females have been their submissive subordinates. Yet, power and control has not motivated better communication skills. Intimate communication is not the only area where men fan short, according to the CEO of Urban Film Series, Corey “CJ” Jennings. Overall self expression is something that men have fallen short on for decades. But if a man can be more successful and intelligent than his female counterpart, then how could they possibly lack the ability to effectively communicate? One theory could be that the premise of a discussion can determine a man’s willingness to communicate. For example, business correlates with money and money ties in with prestige, so with those things being the motivation to communicate, a man is more likely to thoroughly deliver his thoughts and beliefs. (Williams 2008)
One of the key issues pointed out in our current educational dynamic, is although our curriculum spans numerous subjects and relies on fact retention; our educational curriculum does not go deeper into why historical events took place. Men are known for simply stating facts and not going into details while women are credited for offering supporting information as to why things are the way they are or why things play out the way they do. If you cross the way we teach with the way women and men communicate, you can see how when we as students arrive in the High School level females tend to have lost interest in subjects such as math, computers and science while males seem to excel in these subjects. At this grade level women have been exposed to being told not to behave like boys, to not speak up, and to be passive. In most learning disorder cases, the severity of a female’s learning disorder is often not recognized until their High School years due to the gender’s history of being less vocal; thus leaving the underlying issue behind a lack of participation, low grades or lack of interest unnoticed.
Since the foundation of the educational curriculum had Caucasian males in mind during its creation and women were eventually “integrated” into education al institutions, the curriculum was never reformed to include the various gender and cultural changes. By now the gender differences are so engrained in both sexes, this causes higher dropout rates in both genders, social upheaval through higher levels of bullying and a shape decline on self esteem, as well as diverting potential career paths due to not identifying with people in the careers they may have interest in.
Another facet to the social upheaval effect of hegemony is the ethical issue miscommunication between the sexes could create. A female teacher could be accused of being inappropriate with a student due to having a different teaching style from her male counterpart. A male teacher could be accused of treating females in a different manner than males if he feels women simply cannot attain the same aptitude in subjects typically embraced by males. On the administrative side, students could see a female principal as ineffective.
Such gender stereotypical views are capable of exerting a significant influence in
several key areas of the career advancement of female managers. For example, gender stereotypical attitudes are reported to be instrumental in impeding the entry of women into management when a management role is seen as more appropriate for a male (Schein, 1973, 1975), resulting in the ‘‘think manager – think male’’phenomenon. (Woods)
Often times the views of the community filters through to the attitudes of students attending the area schools. Unfortunately if the beliefs of the area are reflected in the students, and the area has a traditional view on the role of men and women, there may be no way to work through these issues. The most extreme offering to offset gender hegemony in our curriculum could be male teachers teach in all male schools and females teach in all female schools. Another way to offset the negative effects of the gender hegemony is to make our curriculum more about the themes or concepts behind lessons instead of memorizing facts and formulas. Current initiatives used to offset the hegemony (not only in the genders but in cultures) have only placed teachers under the microscope; instead of coming up with why some students simply cannot connect with a teacher of any subject or what the cause of the lack of “interest” in certain subjects by certain groups, teachers are found at fault and spend their time fighting about years of gender attitudes.
Students react more to than just the teacher they are taught by, the subject they are enrolled in and school they attend; therefore the way they learn is effected by more than what is in front of them. I honestly believe the way to create a gender balanced High School experience is by creating teachers without a gender bias and by raising children without them as all. Unfortunately that would involve everyone have the same exact outlook on gender and cultural aptitude. Maybe the first step is knowing these issues exist and trying your best to not allow it to continue, in spite of what your role is in the educational experience (parent, student, educator, or principal).
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Originally posted. July 29, 2013