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Recognizing the Hidden Curriculum of Gender RolesThe Relationship Between Reading and Gender A Master’s Research Project by Catherine HollandSt. Mary’s College of Maryland
Introduction Schools: tools for socialization Stated curriculum vs. “hidden curriculum” (Giroux, 1988) Reinforcing traditional gender roles
The Problem Researchers report gender inequalities On standardized tests (Lietz, 2006; Marks, 2008) Increasing over time (Klecker, 2006) Influencing educational policies (Martino & Kehler 2007)
The Problem Gender Similarities Hypothesis (Hyde, 2005) Gender isn’t a predictor of causal thinking abilities (Berkant, 2009) Gender isn’t related to preferred learning style (Younger & Warrington, 2005 as cited in Watson, Kehler, & Martino, 2010)
The Problem Differences between genders are socially created, not biologically innate.
Research Questions Do boys consider reading to be a gendered activity? Do girls? Is it primarily teachers or their students who replicate and encourage these gender-specific behaviors and opinions?
Population AP English Literature students; grade 12 English teachers Public high school in Southern Maryland
Findings “Depends on the text. A lot of the stories that we’re doing are not geared toward young men…They’re definitely reluctant.” “No. They’re a harder sell.” “No.” “Um, if it’s about things that they like to read about. We did The Contender and it was about boy-things, they don’t like to read about love stories. It has a little bit of boy violence or things that they could relate to.”
Findings Teacher responses to: “Do you find that the girls in your class like reading?” All four responded yes: Compared to boys in the class More obedient
Findings “Not a particular genre, but I like really descriptive books. I’m trying to think of particular books…realistic that I could see happening somewhere to someone real.” “Love stories.” “Fiction novels in general. No specific genre.” “Favorite genre – anything that twists reality. Anything that messes with your perception and then gives you a shock. Thriller is too broad. You could go with a thriller but that’s too broad.” “Anything funny”
Implications Teachers are noticing reluctant male readers They are more resistant Underlying assumption that males don’t like reading Adjust text choice to appeal to males Girls may not like the texts they read in class, but they are more willing to try new ones
Conclusions Teachers choose “boy-friendly” texts, focus attention on males, but they still don’t like reading These texts describe “masculine” males Make males even more resistant to reading Based on the interviews, students’ text preferences are idiosyncratic. Yet students tend to choose texts with same-sex protagonists
Recommendations Provide text choices whenever possible Encourage students to cross gender-boundaries in reading; reading is a human activity
References Berkant, H. G. (2009). An investigation of students' meaningful causal thinking abilities in terms of academic achievement, reading comprehension and gender. Educational Sciences:Theoryand Practice, 9(3), 1149-1165. Giroux, H. A. (1988). Teachers as Intellectuals: Toward a Critical Pedagogy of Learning. Bergin & Garvey Paperback. Hyde, J. S. (2005). The gender similarities hypothesis. American Psychologist, 60(6), 581-592. Klecker, B. M. (2006). The gender gap in NAEP fourth-, eighth-, and twelfth-grade reading scores across years. Reading Improvement, 43(1), 50-56. Lietz, P. (2006). Issues in the change in gender differences in reading achievement in crossnational research studies since 1992: a meta-analytic view. International Education Journal, 7(2), 127-149. Marks, G. N. (2008). Accounting for the gender gaps in student performance in reading and mathematics: evidence from 31 countries. Oxford Review of Education, 34(1), 89-109. Martino, W., & Kehler, M. (2007). Gender-based literacy reform: a question of challenging or recuperating gender binaries. Canadian Journal of Education, 30(2), 406-431. Watson, A., Kehler, M., & Martino, W. (2010). The problem of boys' literacy underachievement: raising some questions. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 53(5), 356-361.