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Chapter Boys and Girls Together...But Mostly Apart

SOCC38H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter Boys and Girls Together...But Mostly Apart : Public Address System, Children'S Book Council Of Australia, Practical Reason

Course Code
Ann Mullen
Boys and Girls Together...But Mostly Apart

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Girls and Boys Together…but Mostly Apart
Landscape of contemporary childhood includes three major sites - families, neighborhoods, and
schools. Different people, patterns of time and space, and arrangements of gender.
Families and neighborhoods tend to be small and schools crowded and bureaucratic settings in
which few adults organize and continually evaluate activities of large number of children
Sheer press of numbers in a relatively small space give a public, witnessed quality to everyday life
and makes keeping down noise and maintaining order a constant adult preoccupation
Display or "do" gender, difference may be more or less relevant, and relevant in different ways,
from one social context to another
A School Routines, Rules and Groups
Named segments that divided each day: "reading time,," "center time" (specialized classrooms areas
like "house"), "clean up time", recess. After instances of "bad behaviour" teacher threatened to take
away center time away, which strengthened its allure. During center time and recess the kids were
relatively free to structure their own activities within bounded spaces
Sorting students into groups
Drew on general power of being adult, as well as on more institutionalized authority of her official
position. Claimed right to regulate students' activities, movement, posture, talking, possessions,
access to water, and time and manner of eating.
Collective regulation or "batch processing" has leveling effect; teachers and aides cope with largest
number of students by treating them as members of groups
School staff often sort students by characteristics, or spatial locations. When given opportunity, kids
also form own groups. In process the unique qualities of individuals become subordinated to ways in
which they are alike
Many potential strands of "alikeness" and difference that may be used as basis for constituting
groups. Age is most institutionalized principle of grouping; sorting has continuous effect on activities
and the company they keep
Within age-homogenous classrooms, teachers continually establish further divisions, some more or
less arbitrary, and others based on differences in perceived talent or performance. Social categories
and identities of students provide additional lines of difference that teachers and students evoke
verbally and n their sorting practices, but to strikingly varied degrees
Class difference. Loosely related to "ability grouping" such as composition of difference reading
groups. Everyday practice kids in both schools sometimes drew on and marked class differences.
o part from side comment about particular child's family or background, teachers, aides, and
students never named or explicitly invoked social-class divisions when they organized groups
Race and ethnicity of students more emphasized than religions or social class, although in eleven
months of fieldwork, observed only one classroom situation in which staff formally sorted students
along racial and ethnic lines, and that was for practical reason.
While adults did not formally draw on race or ethnicity in dealing with these students, ethnic and
racial meanings emerged in some encounters
Students generally separate first by gender and then, if at all, by race and ethnicity
Apart from age, of all social categories of students, gender was most formally and informally
highlighted in course of each school day.
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Gender is highly visible source of individual and social identity, clearly marked b dress and by
language. In contrast, categories of race, ethnicity, religion, and social class tend to be more
ambiguous and complex. Recent public policy has set more proscriptions against officially marking
race and religion, compared with gender
"Boys and Girls": The Verbal Marking of Gender
Public address system, voice always opened with "Boys and girls.." "boys" invariably came first.
Teachers and aides often used gender to mark out groups of students, usually for purposes of social
Implying that gender defined both behaviour and social ties
Call for general attention. Often used "boys and girls" feels more specific. Gender categories provide
striking blend of specific and the all-encompassing. Inclusive net over a group of any size. Words are
marked for age, clear that children are focus of comment. Language comes in handy since structural
separation of adults and children is so fundamental to schools. Words "girls" and "boys" sink more
deeply into a person's sense of self.
Spencer Cahill. Centrality of gender categories in "languages of social identification: used by and
toward children. Argues that children pick up association of gender labels with praiseworthy state of
maturity and being to claim "big girl" and "big boy" identities to distinguish themselves from
Teachers continue to equate mature behaviour with grown-up gendered identities by using more
formal and ironic terms of address, like "ladies and gentlemen." by using gender labels with they
interact with kids, adults make being a girl or boy central to self-definition, and to ongoing life of
Gender dichotomies continuously available line of difference that can be drawn on at any time in
ongoing life of schools. In some situations, gender highlighted; at other times, downplayed.
Individuals enter situations as girls or boys, displaying gender through detail like names, dress, and
adornment. But gender may or may not be central to organization and symbolism of encounter.
Some situations, participants mark and ritualize gender boundaries. Gender may be far less
The Choreography of Gender Separation and Integration
"sex segregation among children" evoke images of legally enforced separation.
Separate boys and girls only occasionally. Girls and boys sometime interact with one another in
relaxed and extended ways, not only in schools but also In families, neighborhoods, churches, and
other settings.
Gender separation is a variable and complicated process, an intricate choreography aptly
summarized by Erving Goffman's phrase "with-then-apart"
Boys and girls separate periodically, with their own spaces, rituals , and groups, but also come
together to become parts of same world.
Groups may be formed by teachers, aides, or kids themselves, and that criteria of group formation
may or may not be explicitly mentioned or even in conscious awareness.
The "With-Then-Apart" of Classrooms
In organizing classroom seating. Variety of plans. Some downplay and others emphasizing significant
of gender.
Mrs. Smith. Deliberately placed girls and boys at each table. Interacted great deal in formal and
informal life of classroom.
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