articles, opinions, and research about teaching and learning
Question: Can you tell us a little about your story as someone who has benefitted from a quality basic education?
Answer: My highest quality education was at university level. My university programme covered the basics, challenged me and responded to my needs .it was a quality education! This showed me that if I get quality learning at any time during my life, it changed the way I learn.
When I was in Egypt last year, looking at the Community Schools programme (which has an enrolment of 75% girls) three adolescent boys, (graduates of the programme) were very keen to talk with our Education officer because they wanted a letter that would give them access to secondary education. They had had a quality education which had also given them the skills to negotiate for the next stage of education, despite the fact that their homes were a long way from existing secondary schools.
Q: What are the methods you've seen teachers use to ensure that girls are in school?
A: One approach that seems to be very helpful is the use of school village maps, where teachers work in communities to make sure that every child is in school. When there is a supportive environment for girls, they are more likely to stay. Most importantly, good teaching makes a difference for girls.
Q: What are the three things that you feel are most important for teachers to act on, to ensure gender equity in the classroom?
A: Teachers should focus on the environment in schools and ensure that there is no harassment and that schools are safe and secure for girls. In relation to teaching - learning processes, teachers need to recognise that girls and boys are very different and that girls need to be given the time and space to respond differently from boys. Many boys may be loud and forthright, but when girls are more timid, teachers have to be able to let them respond in that way. Teachers also need to find a way to respect gender without being pushy, to practice the appreciation of difference which ultimately means teaching respect for the other, whoever the other is.
Q: What should teachers look out for in terms of attention to gender-fair classroom processes?
A: When I think about gender-fair classroom practices, the words which spring to mind are equality and compensatory actions. If someone comes to the classroom feeling inferior -- as many girls often do -- about their abilities, teachers have to compensate for that to get to fairness. It just doesn't mean compensatory actions on behalf of girls. Boys have to be allowed to express their emotions. It's worth the effort. Teaching girls can be tough because even when you put in the energy, and then they don't necessarily go ahead and achieve success, the work is still important.
I would want to ask teachers, how do you see teaching girls as opposed to teaching boys? I want to know about the intuitive techniques that good teachers use to ensure gender equity that we probably don't even recognise. I would want to find out about these things from teachers.
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Last revised February 1, 2002
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