Candid Teacher's Classroom

The view from the other side of the desk.

Good Morning Boys and Girls April 15, 2010

Filed under: education,Kindergarten,Sexism,teaching — candidteacher @ 12:14 am

Candid Teacher Admits: Our culture is innately sexist, and I have found I am promoting this by accident.

Today in my graduate course, we discussed sexism in the classroom and how it is prevalent, yet nobody seems to notice.

I begin each morning with, “Good morning boys and girls.”
Look at that statement.  Is it sexist?


Look again. Who do I greet first every morning?  What kind of message does this send to the girls?
Do you think that’s too insignificant?  Okay, well then consider it with everything else that goes on throughout the day:
Do you say, “Hey, guys,” as a way of greeting your friends?  I know I do.  And the girls do not care or mention that they are not, in fact, boys.  But try saying, “Hey girls,” instead.  See what kind of reaction you get from boys you greet this way – I’m sure they’ll pipe up and let you know they are not girls!

Open a science, math, or physical education book.  How long does it take for you to get to a picture of a girl?  Someone of a different nationality?  Someone with a psychical handicap?  A science textbook published in 2007 showed 1 girl for every 5 boys.  And the ratio of Caucasians to other nationalities was even lower.

Why is it that boys gravitate towards “building” and “doing” while girls gravitate towards “housekeeping” and more passive roles?

As a Kindergarten teacher, I get to see that from a very young age, these roles are ingrained in us.  Pick up any children’s book.  Go ahead, pick one.  Fairytales are especially great for this.  What are the roles?  Who is portrayed in each role (hero, princess, mother, villain)?  Further more, what race are they?  Are the “villains” ugly, fat, old, or a race other than Caucasian?  Are the “heroes” strong Caucasian men that are young and buff?  Are the women helpless and passive?  More often than not, this is the case.

With children’s books, text books, T.V., parents, and even teachers (oops) perpetuating these roles, how can we break free of this?

I welcome your suggestions.  I do not wish to promote the ideas that a woman must be a homemaker while the man must be “strong”.  I want to help students be open to new ideas and accepting of others.  What can we do to make sure this happens?