What impact does gender have on education in Australia?
Education in Australia is one of the fundamental issues, but for education to effective, it has to reach male and female students. According to Ainley et al, (2008) male and female students are different and these differences do affect their learning in school. The factors that affect students learning ability can be categorized into two; socio-culture and intellectual. Socio-cultural factors include, the notion that subjects like mathematics and science are for male students, the male gender is superior hence looking down to female teachers, family setting, etc. As stated by Wheaton, (2002) Intellectual factors include differences in male and female brain, concentration and learning ability, group interactions, etc.
This essay will explore in depth how the Australian education system is designed to address the various gender issues. Three elements will be discussed in the essay. The first is how gender has affected teaching and learning. Second is effect of gender on social support. Third is home school, and the community partnership.
Research shows that there are key differences between boys and girls that affect their learning (Wheaton, 2002). To address the issues of gender in a better way, education design in Australia has been customized to the appropriate teaching strategies, content taught, assessment strategies, and provide the right learning environment. The Australian curriculum has been designed in a way to provide a broad repertoire of practices, which are appropriate to reach all the boys and girls. An example is the way in which content is spread throughout the various years (Ainley et al, 2008). The content is taught at each is appropriate for the age bracket and the right teaching strategies are used to ensure each student is reached.
According to Clark & Burke, (2012) teaching strategies used in the Australian curriculum are geared towards promoting collaboration, interaction, and reflections and both male and female students. These strategies have the advantage of improving on boys and girls ownership of the teaching and learning process. These teaching strategies have been credited for breaking some of the cultural gender issues like male superiority while the various teaching strategies help to reach the different intellectual levels between both genders (Keddie & Churchill, 2003). One of the cultural behaviors overcome through shared reflections is the reticent nature of boys to seek assistance even when needed.
According to Sanders, (2006) the learning environment in Australian school is one of the major strategies of addressing the gender issues. It has been used to enable boys and girls to freely explore their capabilities and achieve their potential. The pedagogy used in Australian education is to break tasks into manageable small parts spread over the entire school system. In assessment, to accommodate boys who tend to act then thick later (Sax, 2006), explicit assessment criteria is used before assessment to help boys understand the requirements.
To ensure that the education system produces well-modeled persons able to associate well across gender lines, social support is necessary. To provide social support in school, the Australian education system is designed to promote participation in school social programs (Sax, 2006).participation of both males and females in social school programs has been shown to motivate positive models of association in family, work, and civic life.
According to Clark & Burke, (2012) boys are the reserved and not so open to interaction with others especially the opposite gender. Education has been designed to break this by having male model. A male social figure, probably a teacher, who interacts positively with other female teachers, will support the boy’s transition. Social support to overcome gender issues is also achieved through exploration of gender issues as outlines in the New South Wales (NSW) syllabus. Exploration of what males and females have achieved in field consider feminine and masculine respectively motivates students to explore social activities beyond gender limitations.
Australian education design has been done to allow for investigation of any emerging gender issues that contribute to vulnerability in student. The most common include sexual harassment by senior or fellow students and bullying (Wheaton, 2002). The education system is designed to allow for effective monitoring of these issues, at least within the school compound.
However, addressing gender issues cannot be effective by simply targeting the classroom. There is need to employ the trigonometric of the education system, the home, the school and the community. The education system is designed such that, the parent – who is the home in the trigonometric wheel – gets regular information to understand gender as an educational issue. To achieve this, the education system requires that parent get periodic opportunities on how their child if faring with relation to gender issues. The most common strategy to involve the parent is through regional school newsletters (Sax, 2006). The responses gathered from the parent and from diverse backgrounds are used to make any adjustments on the system.
To challenge any existing work related gender issues, the Australian education system encourages for the involvement of the community in subject and career selection (Clark & Burke, 2012). The system advocates for the continued challenging of limiting stereotypes and notions that exist in relation to gender. In doing so, the Australian education system is designed to address gender issues by acknowledging cultural differences in understanding gender. For example, the gender issues among the non-indigenous communities are different from the aboriginal and the Torres Strait Islanders. To understand the gender aspects between the two, there are aboriginal studies in the western oriented education system to help understand the indigenous communities gender issues.
In case of any sex-related harassment of students, the school is required to involve the parent of the children in question. In addition, to ensure that the community has an active role in maintenance and observation of gender issues, members of the community are made aware of the various gender issues that children might be subjected to particularly sex-based harassment and discrimination (Sanders, 2006). To ensure smooth addressing of these gender issues, the Australian education system provides for the enlistment of regional support through community information officers or partnership officers.
Ainley, J., Kos, J., & Nicholas, M. (2008). Participation in science, mathematics and technology in Australian education (ACER Research Monograph No 63). Camberwell, Victoria: Australian Council for Educational Research
Clark, C. & Burke, D. (2012). Boys’ Reading Commission. A review of existing research to underpin the Commission. London: National Literacy Trust
Keddie, A. & Churchill, R. (2003), ‘Power, control and authority: Issues at the centre of boys’ relationships with their teachers’, Queensland Journal of Educational Research, vol 19.
Sanders, J. (2006). Gender and Technology in Education: A Research Review. In C. Skelton, B. Francis & L. Smulyan (Eds.), Handbook of Gender in Education. London: Sage Publications.
Sax, L. (2006). Why Gender Matters, Broadway
Wheaton, R (2002), ‘Collaboration towards an inclusive curriculum’, Independent Education, Vol.32, No. 3