Helen Walsh

As a SET Teacher, different groups of students come into my room throughout the day. I notice how, despite being mixed in their placings in class, the boys tend to sit with each other and the girls sit together. For larger groups, they often ask if they can sit together with the girls or the boys. If a boy wanders over to his peers who are girls the other boys encourage him to sit with them instead and vice versa. Similarly, when playing games, they split off into groups defined by ‘boys’ or ‘girls’ unless teacher led. This is more prevalent as the children get older but it is still noticeable in the younger classes. It is also encouraged through play dates and birthday parties with invitations for all the boys or all the girls in order to keep numbers to a minimum – it seems this is perceived as a ‘natural split’. </span></p>
Beginning with less definition of toys based on gender roles and working through Aistear and promotion of non-typical gender roles as the children progress through the school may promote questioning of why boys and girls seem to need to sit together based on their gender and make space for friendships to be based on shared interests etc. I think that as Development Education becomes embedded into the curriculum and wider society becomes more open to questioning and more curious about gender stereotypes, a space will continue to open and push conformity boundaries with increased opportunities for less definition based on gender and more on preference. In my class, we use a variety of methods for choosing seats and children readily work/play with whatever group they are with. Making this more explicit enables the children to think before they split off into gender based groups.

  • This reply was modified 4 months, 3 weeks ago by Helen Walsh.
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