September 6, 2017 National News

Teacher’s day: The time has come for educators to be gender sensitive now

What posters do you put up in class? Who are the role models you refer to when teaching your students? Make sure your students don’t grow up with biases

What does it mean to be a gender sensitive teacher? Read this to find out if you as a teacher, responsible for the holistic development of hundreds of children during the course of your career, need to change:

1. Transform yourself: Being a teacher automatically puts you in a dual role of teaching and role modelling. If you are a female teacher- do you consider yourself to be the weaker sex? If you are a male teacher- do you consider yourself to be the stronger sex? If your answer is a “yes” to the above, then that’s where you should begin to transform yourself.

2. Reflect, challenge and change gender power dynamics within your family: Transforming oneself is seldom an act in isolation, as our beliefs, values, attitudes and actions translate into the lives of our families and friends as well. Thus, by being mindful of the way we engage and interact with them and being intentional in our actions and words, we bring about gender equality in everyday life of our families – no discrimination and equal opportunities always.

3. Gender sensitive classroom seating arrangement: Where do the girls and boys sit in your class? Do girls and boys get equal visibility and reach from the teacher? It is beneficial for children to sit in mix-gender seating and teachers should promote it.

4. Ensure safety and security for girls: The general perception of safety and security among girls in your school matters. Engaging and involving parents, local administration and other community stakeholders to ensure safety and security while commuting to school and in school is also an important role for the teacher.

5. Gender sensitive print rich environment: Teachers need to ensure equal visibility and representation of both women and men role models on classroom walls. Women leaders are not lesser known because their contribution was lesser…they are lesser known because society chose not to talk about women as much as we did for men leaders. As a teacher, you are at an advantageous position where you can convert your classroom and school walls into gender sensitive print canvas which showcases both women and men achievers .

6. Gender inclusive text books and libraries: Parity in the number of books on women and men achievers and on themes around positive gender roles, should make up the library. Teachers can promote a “Gender Audit” of their libraries to see how they can promote gender equality through books.

7. Gender sensitive lecture delivery: The overuse of “HE” …we don’t realise it but in our mind and in our lecture delivery – we often talk about the soldier, the surgeon, the truck driver, the plumber, the electrician etc. When we deliver lectures and when we talk in general, we always use the male pronoun of “he”; “his” too often, especially when we are referring to the stereotypical roles where we think that a man is more suitable for it than a woman.

8. Career choices are decided by interest, aptitude and capability – not by the sex of person: Do not gender stereotype subjects and career choices by suggesting arts for girls and science/ technology for boys. Do not promote BEd for only girls and engineering for only boys. Adopt a more gender inclusive and systematic scientific ways of helping children to make career choices.

9. Role distribution among children: Who is given what work? Bringing a register from the staff room, carrying sports equipment to the ground, helping in food distribution in mid-day meals, it is important to pay attention here that both girls and boys are assigned all types of tasks equally and rotationally.

10. Share your personal life examples as a role model: You are their role model- capitalise on it. Share examples and stories from your personal life on how both women and men share all the household chores equally or how both girls and boys in your family go to similar schools/ colleges.

11. Gender dialogue periods: Do not undermine the magic of having one period each week to have a gender dialogue with students – let them choose the theme and you will be surprised by their interest.

12. No genderbiased sports: It is time to encourage both girls and boys to choose all types of sports, provide them facilities and opportunities and motivate them based on their talent and interest and not based on their sex.

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