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Magazine Issue 95: Gender neutral teaching
May 2018

This month: Further thoughts about Gender and Learning

Article: Gender Neutral Teaching
New Resources
Additional Resources

This Month's Article:

Gender Neutral Teaching

Gender Neutral Teaching Part 2 of 2 Articles on gender and learning.

This is a Free Sample Resource

Categories: Article, Professional Development, All Ages, Any Subject

Tags: Gender Gender Neutral Early Years Leadership
Last month we looked at gender and how it is often confused with sexuality and sex. In the second of 2 articles we'll look at gender neutral teaching.

How Many Eggs?

'We're going to count these small chocolate Easter eggs,' says the YrR teacher to a group of six 4 year olds, sitting on the floor in a small room. 'And then shall we play a game!?' 'YESSS!' The session is being filmed.

'Oh no!,' says the teacher, 'I need to get the rules off Miss Jones. I'll be five minutes. Don't leave the room and don't touch the eggs!'.

If you know young children or have ever been one, then you'll probably guess what happened next. The children in the group suddenly became their true selves - the ones they are when adults aren't around - a fascinating mix of copied phrases, power struggle, group bonding and frustration.

Boys v Girls

I had the pleasure of watching several of these videos as part of the school's assessment process. The difference between the girls' and boys' behaviour was startling. Without exception, the moment their teacher disappeared, girls took charge and the boys sat back. The girls led, the boys followed or disengaged.

In the first group, one girl immediately put her hand on all the small chocolate eggs. Her friend chastised her with language and a face probably borrowed from classroom or home. In response the toucher picked up one egg and licked it. By the time the teacher returned, she'd licked all the eggs and thoroughly annoyed her friend.

In another group the girl who took charge got everyone singing and a third group were directed to curl up and become Easter eggs: in these positions, no-one could see the eggs so the temptation to eat them was reduced.

At the end of the assessment no eggs had been eaten and a lot of gender specific information had been gathered.

I wonder what would happen in a similar situation involving older children, teenagers, adults? Why did the 4 year old girls lead?

A Rising Tide

There ARE differences between boys and girls. But there are also just as many differences between individual children - personality, learning preference, attitude, interests, disposition etc. Gifted learning educator Joseph Renzulli believes that, 'A rising tide lifts all boats.' - meaning that if we improve our teaching for one group in the class then we are improving it for all. Every pupil benefits if their teacher goes through a successful process of professional learning that only targets some of them.

Gender neutral teaching is spin on this idea. Instead of targeting a learning need of one group, it addresses one feature of the whole group in order to improve teaching. The main principle is very simple: to treat boys and girls in the same way in order to give them the same opportunities. (it's not about making them the same - that'll never happen - it's about an attitude and practice of total equality and non-bias.)

2 Tips for Gender Neutral Teaching

You can hear more detail about the practicalities of Gender Neutral teaching on this Thinking Classroom Podcast. Embedding the principles is more about thinking in a different way than it is about doing things differently.

1. Language

Terms of endearment, whilst well-intentioned, send powerful messages. 'Mate', 'Princess', 'Chaps', 'Sweetie' are generally gender-specific and divisive. If you call boys 'mate' does that mean the girls aren't?

I think (from my day to day experience in schools) that we are now way beyond, 'I need two strong boys to help me move this Ofsted inspector's car', but again, is this saying girls aren't strong?

Remove or neutalise terms of endearment and be aware of the impact of your language - does it empower or limit your pupils?

2. Literature & Media

Literature and media describe and reflect culture. Changing attitudes towards gender are part of this and can be seen in books, magazines, film, TV and online.

Seek out and read books that challenge gender stereotypes and discuss and debate those where gender is limiting.

Gender neutral teaching isn't about making boys and girls the same. It's about doing our best to give them the same opportunities.

How do you give give everyone in your class the same chances?

New Resources:

Juggle Thinking

Juggle Thinking A Thinking Skills Tool that connects juggling to thinking about learning - a strong foundation for metacognition.

Categories: Thinking Tool, Meta Cognition, Teaching & Learning, PSHE, All Ages

Tags: Juggling Resilience Grit Learning Struggle Success Metacognition
Free Standard Member Resource: Login or Join for Free to access this resource and others.

Juggle Thinking PowerPoint

Juggle Thinking PowerPoint A Thinking Tool Templatein PowerPoint to support Juggle Thinking.

Categories: Meta Cognition, Thinking Tool, Teaching & Learning, PSHE, All Ages

Tags: Juggling Metacognition Grit Resilience Struggle Success
Teacher Premium Resource: Login or Upgrade to Teacher Premium to access this resource.

Empathy Think Sheet

Empathy Think Sheet A Think Sheet to lead pupils into discussion and thinking about empathy.

Categories: Think Sheet, Thinking Skills, PSHE, Secondary

Tags: Empathy Relationships
Teacher Premium Resource: Login or Upgrade to Teacher Premium to access this resource.

Additional Resources:

Thinking Classroom Archive:

What is Gender?

What is Gender? Part 1 of a 2-part Article about gender, teaching and learning.

This is a Free Sample Resource

Find out more
Categories: Article, Questioning, Professional Development, Any Subject, Educators

Tags: Gender Inclusion Equality LGBT+ Bullying

Values Think Sheet - Trust

Values Think Sheet - Trust A new style Think Sheet to help pupils explore the meaning of trust.

Categories: Think Sheet, PSHE, All Ages, Teaching & Learning

Tags: Values Trust
Teacher Premium Resource: Login or Upgrade to Teacher Premium to access this resource.

PSHE Think Sheet - Success

PSHE Think Sheet - Success A Think Sheet of Thinking Classroom ideas for tackling the real issues around success, failure & effort.

Categories: Think Sheet, PSHE, Junior, Secondary, Thinking Skills

Tags: Success Mindset
Teacher Premium Resource: Login or Upgrade to Teacher Premium to access this resource.



How to Transform Your School into an LGBT+ Friendly Place
by Dr Elly Barnes and Dr Anna Carlile

How to Transform Your School into an LGBT+ Friendly Place<br>by Dr Elly Barnes and Dr Anna Carlile Pithy, practical, powerful. A resource to get you started or upgrade what you already do to make your organisation LGBT+ friendly.

Available from Amazon
Mike's Video Review on YouTube

Opens in a New Window
Categories: Suggested Books

Tags: LGBT+ Diversity Inclusion


The Gender Charter

The Gender Charter The rallying point for all groups and individuals wanting to remove gender inequality in life, work and learning.

Opens in a New Window
Categories: Websites

Tags: Gender Equality

Next month we think about...Safe Classrooms