Teaching gender concepts to boys in high school : male teachers’ perspectives

Van der Walt, Pieter Malan (2019-12)

Thesis (MEdPsych)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY : Life Orientation (LO) is a compulsory subject in primary and secondary South African schools as contained in the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) curriculum document. The LO curriculum requires inter alia the teaching of gender and gender concepts. These concepts are important for successful development during adolescence, a stage where adolescents are tasked with resolving a conflict of identity versus role confusion. Gender identity forms an integral component of self-understanding, as well as how one understands others. Gender holds lifelong implications in the personal, social, family, home, and school contexts. Social constructionists argue that gender identity is shaped by many cultural and social influences, including the school environment. These various influences produce society-specific gender norms. This study explored how male LO teachers in the Senior and FET phases conceive, interpret, and enact their roles as educators of high school boys, particularly in facilitating the learning of gender and gender concepts as referred to in the CAPS curriculum. The study explored how these male teachers understand gender, and how these understandings influenced the ways in which they engaged with and modelled gender in their classes. The study was qualitative in nature and was guided by a basic interpretive design situated within an interpretivist research paradigm. As a limited research study, six LO teachers (male) voluntarily completed a self-administered questionnaire consisting of basic demographic data as well as open-ended questions. Semi-structured individual interviews of 45-60 minutes followed the questionnaires to explore emergent topics in depth. Themes were generated via a systematic process of thematic analysis, which consisted of coding answers to the open-ended questions and interview transcripts. These codes were subsequently arranged into patterns and subthemes that finally formed overarching themes. Some of the major findings of this study include that male teachers grappled with the nature of gender, alternating between views of gender as fixed, fluid and performative, and viewing gender as a life path and signifier of character. Teachers advocated for greater time to be allocated in the school schedule for deeper, longer-term and more comprehensive engagement with gender and gender concepts. Other significant findings included that teachers incorporate personal life experiences and embody personal values during the teaching of gender, with heterosexual-identified teachers evincing greater comfort with referencing their personal, intimate life than gay-identified teachers. Teachers indicated a general discomfort with claiming a role modelling function to boys, possibly due to the construction of LO as a nurturing subject associated with female teachers. Despite this reluctance, many participants indicated a clear need to support their boy learners, including those whom they perceived to be facing sexual and gender identity questions. Teachers also voiced significant barriers to teaching gender concepts, including barriers in the school environment, from parents and due to the diminished status of Life Orientation in the school system.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Lewensoriëntering (LO) is ‘n verpligte vak in die Kurrikulum en Assesseringsbeleidsverklaring (KABV) vir primêre en sekondêre Suid Afrikaanse skole. Die dokument omskryf die kurrikulum vir grade R-12. Die LO kurrikulum vereis onder andere dat gender en genderkonsepte onderrig moet word. Hierdie konsepte is belangrik vir suksesvolle ontwikkeling gedurende adolessensie wanneer jongmense voor die taak gestel word om die konflik te hanteer wat tussen identiteitsverwerwing en rolverwarring mag ontstaan. Gender identiteit vorm ‘n integrale komponent van selfinsig asook in die verstaan van ander. Gender het lewenslange implikasies binne persoonlike-, sosiale-, gesins-, huis- en skoolkonstekste. Sosiale konstruksioniste argumenteer dat gender identiteit gevorm word deur verskeie kulturele en sosiale invloede onder andere ook in die skool omgewing. Hierdie verskeie invloede produseer gender norme wat eie is tot ‘n gegewe samelewing. Hierdie studie het die wyses waarop manlike LO onderwysers binne die Senior en FET fases gender en gender konsepte verstaan, interpreteer, en hul rolle uitlewe as onderwysers van manlike adolessente, ondersoek. Daar is veral gefokus op die deelnemers se fasilitering van leer tydens die onderrig van gender en genderkonsepte soos omskryf in die KABV kurrikulum. Die studie het ondersoek hoe manlike onderwysers gender verstaan, en hoe hierdie begrip die wyse waarop hulle met die konsep van gender omgaan mag affekteer asook hoe gender gemodelleer word in die klaskamer. Die kwalitatiewe studie is uitgevoer binne ‘n basiese interpretatiewe navorsingsontwerp, gelei deur ‘n interpretavistiese navorsingsparadigma. As ‘n beperkte navorsingstudie (50%), het ses manlike LO onderwysers vrywilliglik ‘n self-geadministreerde vraelys voltooi, wat basiese demografiese data ingesluit het asook ‘n aantal oop vrae oor die onderwerp. Semi-gestruktureerde individuele onderhoude van ongeveer 45-60 minute het gevolg op die vraelyste, om ontluikende onderwerpe in meer diepte te ondersoek. Temas is gegenereer via ‘n sistematiese proses van tematiese analise wat die kodering van die antwoorde op die oop vrae en die transkripsies van die onderhoude ingesluit het. Daarna is die kodes gerangskik in patrone en sub-temas om uiteindelik tot die finale oorkoepelende temas aanleiding te gee. Van die vernaamste bevindinge was dat manlike onderwysers onseker voorgekom het oor die aard van gender, met wisselende opinies tussen gender as klinkklaar, vloeibaar, performatief, gender as ‘n lewenspad, en ook as aanduider van karakter. Onderwysers bepleit meer tyd binne die skoolprogram vir meer omvattende, in-diepte en langtermyn omgaan met hierdie konsepte. Ander belangrike bevindinge was dat onderwysers persoonlike lewenservaringe insluit in hul onderrig van gender en dat persoonlike waardes onderrig beïnvloed. Onderwysers wat identifiseer as heteroseksueel het met groter gemak verwys na hul persoonlike en intieme lewens as onderwysers wat identifiseer as gay. Onderwysers het in die algemeen ongemak aangedui wanneer rolmodellering aan seuns ter sprake gekom het. Dit mag wees omdat LO in die algemeen gesien word word as ‘n versorgingsvak wat tradisioneel met vroue onderwysers geassosieer word. Ondanks hierdie huiwering het meeste deelnemers tog ‘n duidelike behoefte getoon daaraan om seuns te ondersteun, veral diegene by wie hulle vrae oor seksuele en gender identiteitskwessies vermoed. Onderwysers het ook aansienlike hindernisse geïdentifiseer in die onderrig van gender konsepte, insluitend hindernisse in die skoolomgewing, vanaf ouers, en die status van Lewensoriëntering as skoolvak wat gesien word as van minder waarde as ander skoolvakke in die skoolsisteem.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/107262
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