The objectives of the research were: (1) What are the process underlying the construction of genders in primary schools? (2) How do children read these processes in relation to their understanding of gender through social experiences outside the schools.
Sample consisted of 123 students studying in class 4, the age ranged from 9 to 12.
The data collection were made by observation, interviews, children’s biographical notes, and artifacts, like, records of tests and notes written by children in the class.
The ethnographic method was used to collect and analyse the data.
The period of the study was one entire academic year in a municipal primary school of Baroda city.
The findings of the study were as follows: (1) Strict boundaries established in all classroom routines, like, making lines, names on registers, seating arrangements and on the play ground. (2) These boundaries set up a relation between physical space and gender, in the classroom, play ground, and other social spaces which children occupied. (3) Different task assigned to girls and boys based on normative notions of areas of work’ for boys and girls. Girls were given tasks imbued with notions of feminine domesticity, such as, cleaning, carrying and fetching for the teacher etc. Within the school premises boys were given tasks that involved going out of the school. (3) The practices of teachers in the classrooms such as social labeling, normative and evaluative statements which set up stereotypes of behavior. Social labeling was directed towards the boys more than the girls, with negative statements, name-cutting, etc. Examination related interactions were also primarily directed at boys. (4) The underlying rationale, underlying gender separation and differentiation was framed in the context of dhamaal or indiscipline, primarily associated with the boys. (5) Ideals of good hand writing, reading, knowing answers, etc. were associated with girls, although certification and its effects on future employment was more directed towards boys. (6) Curricular context reinforced gender division both through transaction of gender-biased materials as well as modes of interaction in the different subjects. (7) A system of signifying of aggressive masculinity associated with boys from this social class background who were constructed as deviant, with no interest in studies and coming from backgrounds not conducive to formal education. Femininity was chiefly associated with virtues of domesticity, rather than pedagogic attributes, although girls were positioned as ideal learners. (8) Children interpreted the hidden curriculum chiefly through their experiences of gender in home and community. Patterns of socialization within the community rationalized’ the following school practices – gender separation such as necessary for physical security, Taboos associated with cross-sex interaction, association of inside/outside’ in categories of work. (9) There was a constant construction of otherness’ as a result of school-based contexts of separation and differentiation.
Keyword(s): Gender Studies, Primary School, Curriculum