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  • Gender bias in schools: Is there equality of treatment in classroom teaching

    Introduction

    In my view, the main objectives of teaching are to transmit knowledge, skills and attitudes. This objective is mainly aimed at pupils in the classroom. It is, however, necessary to recognize that for many reasons, pupils have been faced by obstacles, which can affect the learning process. One of these many obstacles is gender bias. Unfortunately, the teacher and the system are sometimes the source of such obstacles to the process of learning.

     

    This topic is an area of interest for me, particularly because of personal observations with regards to the topic. It is in this light that the definition of gender will be examined at the start of the assessment. In order to gather further understanding of the issue, a careful investigation of the different ways in which gender bias can surface in the classroom will be carried out. This investigation will be followed by a discussion on how gender bias can inevitably affect the equality of classroom teaching.

     

    The discussion surrounding the word 'equality' can be deemed as a 'relative' statement, and therefore, it is on this basis that I will discuss the term equality. This is in order to clarify any misconceptions that might arise. With the support of textbooks, statistical data, evidence of observations based on my experience and information from the policy of a school, it is hoped that the effects of gender bias will be shown and understood. It must be emphasized that the effects will be mainly based on the equality of treatment in classroom teaching as it affects the pupils.

     

    The evidence based on the observations made, will be one of the main areas of focus, particularly because pupils are sometimes best at recognizing the bias of a teacher and then they act upon this. It is amazing how this can affect the learning process, and therefore some discussions of the pupils' reaction will be examined.

     

    The measures taken to avoid these problems have been put in place, but these measures are sometimes not followed. Sometimes the measures that are put in place create even greater problems of inequality. It therefore follows that different measures put in place, will be the next area for discussion, coupled with a case study and theories in order to promote or present different ideas for solutions. Different policies such as the schools' policy will therefore be scrutinized carefully at this point.

    It is hoped that with these insights, a better knowledge, understanding and even solutions will be the outcome of this assignment.

     

    Definition of Gender

     

    Gender and sex are often mistaken as interchangeable terms.

    `Gender refers to all differences between men and women other than the basic physiological ones'(Measor, 1992; p. 5)

    Measor has made a very important distinction in the definition of gender and this is very important because this assignment will depend upon these distinctions. She continued by giving the definition of sex as the physiological differences between men and women. One of the differences involved the reproductive capacities.

    The definition of gender therefore clarifies the need to discuss deeper issues such as specific social and cultural patterns of behaviour. It is also in regards to the social characteristics of being a man or woman in a particular historic and social circumstances. It therefore follows that the issue of equality of treatment in classroom teaching is indeed a very serious issue since this can affect a child's progress.

    In order to show the unique importance of this issue, it is important to examine the background of gender equality within society and eventually its reflection in the classroom.

     

    A background of gender and equality in education

     

    `In December 1975, the sex discrimination act became law' (Madden, 2000; p.27)

    In addition to highlighting the period when the law started to play a vital role in preventing sexual discrimination in society, the organisations involved were also described. The role was extended to the education authority, and the sex discrimination act (SDA) 1975 that established the equal opportunities commission (EOC). The EOC's duties encompassed working towards the elimination of discrimination and to promote equality of opportunity between women and men.

    With further regards to education, it is important to explain that the EOC played an important role in creating changes.

     

    `Changes were created in the national policy, changes in schools' system, practices, cultures and changes in individual behaviour and attitude'. (Madden , 2000; p32)

    These changes, as explained by Madden, were in order to develop equality in education. It is not surprising that with so many changes involved at a sensitive time that other organisations were either called upon or created. The education Ministers, Local Education Authority (LEA) and with great significance, the DES, such as Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of schools ( HMI ) were all involved in creating a non discriminatory education system.

     

    Ironically, an EOC annual report of 1977 has shown that the HMI was needed because the education services as whole did not consider sex discrimination as a serious problem. It is also interesting to read that EOC's first formal investigation into alleged discriminatory allocation of girls to secondary education in Tameside LEA, was begun in 1976. It becomes interesting because this practice is a focus of the assessment in more than one way, that is, the allocation of girls and boys being the operative areas of focus.

     

    Examples of gender bias in classroom teaching.

     

    Since 1975, there have been many developments and improvements with the level of gender and sexual discrimination in the society.

    `Men are the bread winners', 'women belong to the kitchen', 'a woman's place is at the home with the children' and men never cry in public places'. These are all familiar statements often voiced before the 1970s. Today these statements are not as common in saying or practice. The stereotyping of sex and gender is however very similar to the period before the seventies and examples of these can be found in classroom teaching.

     

    Individual examples will be examined with more than one Source of evidence. Examples of the ways gender bias surface are that the lesson contents are changed to appeal to boys' interest, teachers response to misconceptions and stereotyping, that leads to destructive consequences and assessment bias  towards one gender. These are only some of the examples which rightly require some attention.

     

    Assessing the effects of gender bias and the equality of treatment in classroom teaching in order to create solutions.

     

    The inequality in the teachers' time and attention to some pupils were one observations made while on teaching practice. During the first week of observation of various classes, between January 7-12, it was clearly observed that most of the teachers' attention went to the boys. This unfortunate observation was made in approximately five subjects. These subjects were Geography, Science, English Language, History and Mathematics.

     

    `Boys’ potential to disrupt lessons seems to be even greater in Secondary schools than it is in Primary schools'. (Measor , 1992; p.80)

     

    Measor’s account of boys' disruption was a typical experience during most of the classroom teaching observed, and it therefore gave the rationale for teachers' obligation to spend more time with the boys and subsequently the teachers giving the boys more of their time and attention.

    `Boys are sensitive to gender biases in the way teachers treat pupils' (Arnot, M, etal, 1998, p61). This bias sometimes surfaces when in their expectations of the boys to be more disruptive. Arnot supports my view that this is not usually appreciated by the boys. Irrespective of the rationale given, it is ph unequal treatment during classroom teaching, which came about through gender. Consequently, the girls or anyone could deem this as an act of gender bias.

     

    `There is evidence of secondary school teachers developing lesson content to appeal to boys' interest'. (Measor, 1992; p.80)

    This further act of gender bias as described by Measor, despite its constructive objective would certainly be looked upon suspiciously and even worse, with great concern. It would be natural for there to be some concern, particularly because of the potential it has to destroy the self-esteem of the girls as explained by Draper 1992. It also has the potential to cause girls to feel isolated.

    On taking on the role of the pastoral duties at x School, some of the gender bias became even more obvious. The most outstanding example that was reflected in the classroom teaching, was the unequal allowance for one gender to speak and sometimes that gender was unable to contribute anything verbally in a discussion. As a male associate teacher, it was easy to accuse the female pupils of speaking incessantly. This accusation was also attributed to stereotyping that girls talk more than boys. It, however, became clear that the boys were the main talkers. It also became clear that teachers acknowledged the boys more readily whenever the pupils’ hands were raised in order to answer a question.

    `Research findings on secondary school classrooms reveals that teachers permit boys to talk more'.(Measor, 1992; p.80)

     

    The quote above supports my findings and so, the implications are a cause for concern. It becomes a cause for concern because learning new information requires discussion and if female pupils are ignored, then this could inhibit their learning and consequently suppress their potential to do well. In the same way girls are affected, boys are affected by the generalisation and unequal treatment of being ignored in the classroom. The cause of concern becomes worrying when the data from the statistics of Education, 1999, pp52 shows a number of permanent exclusions by gender. It went on to expose a total of 10,440, and of the total 8,645 were boys while 1,793 were girls. The pie chart, as shown in Appendix one highlights approximately three quarters of  the boys compared to a quarter of the girls that is excluded by gender. This is worrying and clearly suggest that the gender issues should not be oversimplified. This also follows that there is a link to the classroom teaching.

     

    It might appear as if there is some bias towards female pupils since the concerns of male pupils have not been discussed so far. It is therefore necessary to highlight some concerns of gender bias towards the boys that have led to inequality of classroom teaching.

    ' In short, teachers are too often concerned about boys' behaviour and need to think about them more in terms of achievement’. (Noble C 2001 pp 33).

    Noble's summary has outlined the most fundamental gender bias that has been the most significant feature of inequality in classroom teaching. It certainly shows an understanding of the underachievement of boys and the increasing improvement of exams in the performance of girls. Taken from the last school experience, the gifted and talented register has shown some information which has been interpreted as statistical data. Appendix 2 shows the number of boys who have achieved the gifted status compared to the girls. It is disturbing when the data reveals that year 11 shows that 79 percent girls attained the gifted status, that is 9 out of 12, while only 21 percent didn’t. Generally the girls are ahead, except for year 10.

    The problems of gender bias usually go deeper than the social and cultural norms of the boys or the girls and this is why every department needs to be aware of the problems and the solutions. "Although teachers are aware of the need to monitor the progress of the pupils by ethnicity as well as gender, few departments have carried out evaluations based on the tracking of the pupils’ progress" (Ranger, 2001; p.6)

     

    Ranger, the reporting inspector of HMI for X High, has re-iterated Noble's and my point, that more emphasis needs to be placed on the achievement of pupils in this respect, gender being the focus. There has to be some agreement with Rangers findings at X High. One of the main emphases observed in regards to the gender issue with the intention of creating equality in classroom teaching was the policy of the seating plan. Boys had to sit beside girls at all times, and not boy-boy or girl-girl. This worked to some extent in that it prevented some stereotyping which would have made it easier for either gender to be wrongfully accused. Neither were easily distracted when boys sat beside girls except in a few cases. Ranger continued to highlights the lack of the schools' inadequacy, and indeed the importance of achievement in relation to gender and equality in classroom teaching when he continued, `The LEA has helped to raise the awareness of these issues but the achievement of minority-ethnic groups, and of boys and girls, do not feature sufficiently prominently in the thinking or the action plans of departments' (Ranger, 2001; p.6).

    The issues that Ranger has in mind is certainly needed in the action plans of all the school's department and so further explanations will explain why.

    It has been established that boys are more involved in discussions and arguments and through such social attributes, they have received greater attention from the teachers. These attentions are really gained for the wrong reasons. It would therefore be an achievement if these social attitudes were channelled in the lesson plans for girls.

    Stereotyping has been one of the main ways in which inequality has been manifested in classroom teaching. In order to lead on to another area of worthwhile discussion, it is important to identify some of the stereotypes which are in some cases true in practice. One of the stereotypes is on subject preferences.

    `Science, Mathematics, IT, and Pe are rated as 'masculine' by pupils and preferred by boys ; English. Humanities, music, PSE and RE rated as 'feminine and preferred by girls' (Arnot ,M etal 1998, p31) These findings as identified by Arnot, etal may be true in some cases, but it becomes a fallacy when there is faulty generalisation, and worst, it becomes dangerously destructive for pupils’ learning when, teachers practise such ideas in the classroom.

     

    Measor has argued about the source of male or female preferences in the subject areas. It is argued that this may be genetic, while others say that this is cultural. Despite there being any or no credence to such arguments, there is some danger within such a context. The danger is that stereotype of gender in the classroom does lead to inequality in classroom teaching

    `Male teachers dominate the school subjects that girls do badly in, like the sciences' (Meanor, 1992; p.79)

    The danger here is that one of the problems as highlighted by Measor is that girls are denied the role model needed in order to achieve in a dominant male subject area. This certainly makes it unfair, but many observers might not have recognized problems such as these and hence they are quick to jump to conclusions.

     

    Another medium of stereotyping is found in the assessment of the pupils. `There is evidence that boys perform significantly better than girls on multiple on multiple-choice tests, whatever the subject area' (Arnot, etal; 1998, p.36). Arnot continued to explain that boys are also believed to be better at verbal feedback. On the other hand, girls perform better in written exams and they produce a higher standard of course work. Unfortunately, teachers respond in agreement to stereotyping and hence they become biased themselves. They become biased towards a gender when they accept these stereotypes.

    `Teachers obviously also need to think carefully about the contribution they make in raising the awareness of those around them, parents, pupils and colleagues.' (Noble, 2001; p.34).

     

    It is therefore my belief that it is true, based on what Noble has said. If it even means that there is some truth in such stereotypes, then the teacher ought to be aware of such stereotypes and work against them for the pupils. This can be done by being aware of the solutions to negative stereotyping, as they might apply to the female pupils or the male pupils. This in itself should create more equal opportunities for classroom teaching. In Noble's own words he said that the pupils, parents and colleagues should be challenged to participate in the wider campaign to raise achievements. This will only be realised when it is known that boys face problems in subjects such as English and some other subjects that girls are better at, problems such as, fewer role models, especially, few male teachers. Other problems are that boys are finding it difficult to link themselves with the characters they read about and this affects their progress in the arts subjects.

     

    The theory which adequately fits the problem of stereotyping gender, which affects the equality of classroom teaching is called social learning theories.

    "Social learning theories suggest that children learn about appropriate attitudes and behaviour from their parents, peers and teachers (Kelly ,1981)" (in Measor , 1992; p.9)

    This theory can certainly be applied in the context of sex-appropriate behaviour, and this type of practice is often through the desired behaviour of gender in the society. An example of the problem of this theory is recognised in relation to girls getting a reward sticker from a teacher for talking less, because that teacher believes that girls are the ones whoy,eak more and not boys. This is bearing in mind that the boy speaks at the most appropriate time and the girl is told that she has to speak less. This in itself can be depriving the girl of progressing in expressing her views.

     

    "The degree to which it is true that parents, child carers and teachers do reward and punish 'gender-appropriate' behaviour". (Measor, 1992; p.9)

    This point of Measor certainly helped me to bring across the point that what is deemed as helping the pupil could be hurting the pupil. In effect the gender is not what necessarily makes the difference, but the individual circumstances. In fact another theory has shown that as a male or female, pupils are influenced by society and what it dictates about gender, but are capable of deciding what characteristics are best to accept or refuse in gender.

     

    `Delamont, for example, hypothesizes that there is an interaction between sex and social class origin. The lower-middle class origins of many teachers, especially men, give them a view of gender tending towards the conventional stereotypes of their childhoods' (Acker, 1994; p.96)

    Although this view creates a stereotype for male teachers of a lower-middle class, there is truth in what has been theorized by Delamont. This theory of Delamont, has been seen where the lower-middle class tend to be less liberal, and are more prone to agree with the general view of society on gender issues. This sometimes affects the way he relates to the pupils and hence, this can and has affected the progress of the pupils.

    `There may be differences in teachers' attitudes to gender equality according to subject taught (Pratt 1985)' (in Acker, 1994; p.98)

    Here, Acker supports the ideas that I have already illustrated about the fact that some teachers, such as the male teachers, reluctantly accept equal opportunity initiatives, such as girls into science and technology. The feeling is usually that there are natural sex differences and that sex equality is not an educational problem.

     

    `They develop a number of categories into which they fit their world, and they form rules about the categories. Sex is one of the significant categories they use' (Measor , et al, 1992; p.9)

    The theory as referred by Measor is cognitive development theory. This theory, unlike the social learning theories, does not show the child's learning being affected or influenced by imposed ideas through the teacher or the society, but as recorded by Measor, 1992, it shows the pupils as active participants in structuring his or her experience and formulating sex role concepts. Gender role stereotyping is therefore not easily imposed upon the pupils by the teacher and as highlighted before, can create an equal and fair atmosphere for classroom teaching.

     

    Summary of an exemplary case study.

     

    In order to be successful in creating equality in classroom teaching and a non gender bias atmosphere, some steps must be taken. Some of these stages, which will be highlighted, have been practised at the Towney School. One of the first step that Towney School started in 1988, was to ensure that a whole-school gender policy was developed in the school.

    `Each department was also obliged to draw up its own development plan. Although the focus had been mainly on gender'. (Ruddock, 1994; p.92). This policy is very ideal in order to create equal classroom teaching. This is so because each teacher, irrespective of their personal view, must carry out the policy to practice in order to ensure equality. `Teachers from Townley School talked about equal opportunities development work in their subjects. This was a session called 'what about the boys. (Ruddock, 1994; p.90.)

    This very interesting policy highlighted by Ruddock, is very positive, because it is the boys who are deemed to be getting all the mention and yet this session focused on the boys. It shows that stereotyping was not on the agenda for any of the policies as other sessions would equally examine the issues concerning the girls.

    `A concern to help pupils talk about equality issues and to reflect on them in different situations'. (Ruddock, 1994; p.84) This practice in my mind is one of the most fundamental
    integration of the policies which shows the depth of the schools intention to develop a high standard of education for all its pupils, that is whether they are mal female, black or white. The parents were involved, there were departmental representatives and most important, the pupils were involved.

     

     Conclusion

     

    During the discussion of the gender issues and the focus of equality in classroom teaching, some solutions have come about. The idea of sharing gender issues with the pupils can never be dismissed as a practical solution. The case study of Townley School shows where it is relevant to incorporate such policies in schools. The more aware pupils become, then the more teachers will be less prone to make mistakes of being bias towards a gender.

    Some authors advocate single sex schools as the solutions. This to me is not a solution. In fact I believe that gender bias is capable of surfacing even more in such circumstances. This area was not examined further because the assessment was in relation to an experience at a co-educational school. The theories however showed that teachers and students can be influenced by gender bias in the classroom whether this is a single-sex school or a co-educational school. An example of this is where the all girls school are mainly of female teachers, but mostly males in the Science department. Already there can be some serious gender bias in such schools. The examinations, such as the GCSE, sometimes portray a bias against the girls and the boys. An example of this is where a SAT Mathematics paper given to the year 9 students had topics such as the mechanics of a car and also football. The girls clearly could not relate to these questions because many of them were not interested or understood some of the vocabulary of the male sport. This is a gender bias issue because the questions were male oriented. In this case, other assessment types, such as GCSE could be guilty of the same discrimination. Irrespective of the school, all pupils will be affected.

    It is therefore my opinion that Towney School should be a National example for every school that wish to succeed on the basis of equality.

    Workshops for teachers is another way of creating a solutions for the prevention of gender bias. Again, the policy of Towney School highlights such a need. The entire body of the school is affected, not only males or only females. The question of equality in the classroom should therefore be addressed. Gender bias is certainly a basis for inequality and therefore deserves being addressed. 

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    Citizenship 03 September 2015 | Comments (0)

    Introduction

     

    The main focus of this blog will be on an aspect of citizenship, which is the family. The topic, family is a very broad subject and will therefore include a variety of issues which affects the implementation of citizenship education. Some of these issues are the problems surrounding the implementation of the topic, family, citizenship in the school and, the effect it has on the pupils and teachers.

     

    Work on voluntary groups will be used as examples to explain some of the points put forward. This is indeed appropriate, because similarly to voluntary organisation, the family can be deemed as a local, national or international organisation. The family can be related as a community and once that relationship is positively engaged in the school, then there can be a good ethos and progression in the school. This type of positive relationship might not have been at the home and therefore the school need to take on this onus. I believe that the best medium through which can be done is through citizenship.

     

    It was necessary to do a short history of citizenship in order to understand the developments leading to the introduction of citizenship into the curriculum. There was also some need to examine some aspects of the topic family in order to understand the impact that citizenship can and has had on the pupils.

    In fact, the issues, topics, theories and implications will always be directed towards the pupils and to some extent the teachers.

    The pupils and the teachers will be the main focus because, citizenship, as a subject will be mandatory in all schools in England. In light of the situation, it is crucial to show how such a new subject will affect them with the aims and objectives in mind.

     

    History of Citizenship in the schools of Britain

     

    There was little interest in the teaching of citizenship irrespective of its title, between 1950-1970. It is very important that the history of citizenship is understood, particularly since its history can give some insight into reasons for its re-emergence into the schools.

    It has only been two years since the term 'citizenship' has started to become familiar and to feel important in schools. During its progression the makeup of citizenship was similar to Civics and the teaching about the British constitution. (Fogelman, (1991) has explained that there have, however been changes with the addition of a wider body of knowledge to citizenship, issues of attitudes, personal skills and participation.

    He further explained the origin or cause for these changes.

    "There has been concern about the political community knowledge, commitment and involvement of young people in our community" (Fogelman, 1991, pg 1)

    Fogelman's rationale for the cause of a more in depth curriculum of citizenship can be further explained with the negative impact of national life and decay in society. A moral panic represented by incidents such as the murder of James Bulger and Stephen Lawrence summarizes the need for social, moral, spiritual, cultural and political awareness by the pupils in the schools. This could therefore, be deemed as an example of Fogelman's statement when he refers to the concern of the young people in the' society.

     

    There has also been a need for participation in democracy and the capacity to engage in current debates on issues such as the environment, sustainable development, health and genetic modification.

    "Education for citizenship develops the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for exploring, making informed decisions and exercising responsibilities and rights in a democratic society". (National Curriculum council, 1990, pg2)

    The curriculum guidance as briefly outlined, gave some aims of citizenship education. The aim of citizenship which stood out clearly was that of making informed decisions and exercising rights in a democratic society. This is most appropriate because democracy is very much at the heart of citizenship education and if pupils are empowered to make informed decisions, then that in itself is democracy. It becomes helpful as well since some of the topics have no set answers, and if pupils are able to make their own decisions, then it could cause fewer conflicts in beliefs and also enhances a greater level of tolerance and respect for each other.

     

    In the developments of citizenship education, the ways in which the new subject was to be delivered had to be taken upon board. The five cross-curricular themes were part of the whole curriculum and have been part of the developments in the delivery of citizenship.

    "Although the National Curriculum itself is conceived in terms of the ten core and foundation subjects, it is only a part of the whole curriculum".

    (Fogelman, 1991, pg 2)

    The point made by Fogelman is important since it made reference to the whole-curriculum, an aspect of the delivery of citizenship in the schools. Fogelman further explained the developments when h( showed that the cross-curricular elements makes up part of the whole curriculum. These elements include the five cross curricular themes which Fogelman highlighted as  "economic and industrial understanding: Careers education and guidance; health education; environmental education and education for citizenship".

    (Fogelman: 1991, pg2)

    The description of the curricular themes shows that careful planning will be necessary in citizenship education. An aspect of the theme, Health education with Family as the main area of study will be the main focus. It therefore follows that some aspects of the family in citizenship, the problems and solutions should be examined.

     

     

    The effects of family, citizenship education on students.

     

    A learning objective of family citizenship education has been that, pupils should be aware of the family life cycle, patterns of marriage, family structure and how they change. Another example of family learning objectives, (shown in Appendix two) was that pupils should be aware of the challenges facing family units, example, separation, divorce, domestic problems and single-parent families.

    There are examples of family oriented voluntary groups, such as Barnados and UNICEF amongst others which play a vital role in providing a family for the children in need or protecting children who are vulnerable in society. Pupils need to be aware of these organizations. They also need to be aware of what responsibilities they, can take in nurturing a good family, since they too make up a family. This would be the main medium to correct the concern about community knowledge, commitment and involvement of young people in our society as highlighted by Fogelman, 1991.

    It is in this way that citizenship can play a part, and in the process develop the backbone of society. There are, however, some problems which are contradictory to the very fabric of citizenship where the students are concerned.

     

    " In studies of citizenship, the turn toward education is always a suspect because it often disguises a failure to understand and improve citizen interactions among adults".

    (Gusteran, H: 1998, pg 82)

    Gusteran is therefore suggesting that the idea of citizenship being delivered in schools is wrong in that it could be deemed as a medium for the indoctrination of ideas upon pupils, when they are at the most vulnerable stage of their life. It follows here that instead of solving the problem through citizenship, it would escalate the problem.

    Despite the negative effect highlighted, it has already been shown that there are positive effects, which citizenship can have on pupils and subsequently, future society.

    "It helps them to examine their current roles and to anticipate future roles as partners and parents".

    (National Curriculum Council: 1991, pg 7).

    The quotation makes reference to the positive effect that issues  concerning the family, as is examined in citizenship can have on the pupils, and the reforndorses the positive influence of citizenship education.

    "This component encourages pupils to understand the nature of family life in all its forms".

    (National Curriculum Council: 1990, pg 7).

    The component is in reference to t health education, with the family being the focus. Different families have different values, beliefs and attitudes. These characteristics are emulated by pupils and are then demonstrated in the schools and society. The bad values which are many times demonstrated by the pupils can affect the ethos of the school and as a result, endorses the need for the family to be one of the nine mandatory components of citizenship. It is in this respect that I must agree with the group of which I was a part, that the whole school approach uplifts the ethos of the school.

    The ethos of the school will certainly be dependent on the cooperation of the entire school's body, including the pupils. "Education for citizenship is founded on the quality of relationships and respect for individuals".

    (Fogelman, K: 1991, pg 50)

    It is with these qualities in mind that good effects of citizenship education will be reflected on the pupils and as explained before develop a positive influence on the ethos of the school. It is only by being aware of and having an understanding of the different aspects of family which affect society that students will be responsible and tolerant in their attitude towards different people around them. In order to examine the effect that citizenship can have on the pupils' attitude, then some theories will be examined.

    "Liberalism, communitarianism and republicanism, the three varieties of citizenship theory".

    (Gunsteran, H: 1998, pg 16).

    Of the three theories identified, the communitarianism theory had some merit to the profile of citizenship in education, but was dangerous to the aims and objectives in the schools. Gusteran explained that communitarianism theory involves citizens belonging to historically developed community and acting responsibly when they stay within limits of what is acceptable in the community. The only advantage of this approach in the schools is that it enhances loyalty in education and hence its individual member will flourish. However it does not encourage change and this would certainly deviate from the essence of democracy and some aspects of citizenship.

     

    It must, however, be recognized that its benefit also lies in the fact that it epitomizes the strength and relevance of family citizenship and if it means that one must conform and apply good and sustainable relationships m the community, then there should not be changes in this context. In application to the theory, it has been proven that pupils can be active and productive citizens through education. The education of citizenship in my mind is based on the agreement of the community and by that I mean support gained from some practitioners, parents, students and local government. The pupils however are usually the ones who sometimes rebel against these changes, although in some cases the rebellion is a reflection of outside influences such as parents and others identified before.

     

    In order to address the issue of rebellion amongst pupils in order to create an organized society then further explanation and examples are necessary. It cannot be repeated too often, that the practice of democracy is the best way to teach citizenship and hence, the result is a more desirable society. The theory explained before can still be of some use in order to understand the point put forward. The communitarianism theory involves the citizens acting responsibly, once they stay within limits of what is acceptable in the community. Although democracy is not inclusive in this theory, the aim of democracy can be added to what has been chosen from the theory and becomes successful in creating an ideal community (School or pupils) without destroying the fabric of democracy. In reading a report of a school, I am convinced that this is achievable.

    In order to show that this is achievable, it would be appropriate to use an example of County Primary School. This was where no pupil, was sent for exclusion for seven years.  In this unusual case, pupils were able to act responsibly and stay within the limit of what was acceptable by taking an active role in the student council. Pupils were able to have their special meetings and discuss amongst the other students their shortcomings and other problems affecting them. This activity was supported by the school's authorities, and empowered the pupils to voice their opinions in a respectable way and although many of the disagreements might have meant little to no change, the pupils must have felt recognized. Sometimes pupils only need to have a clearer understanding of the purpose of rules which have been made.

    "Participants gain a new understanding of their connection to local and other levels of government".

    (Talbot, J: 1998, pg91)

    Talbot's statement can be put in the context of the pupils of Windsor County Primary, in that it was their participation and subsequently their improved awareness of the situations and their responsibilities that created a more disciplined and positive approach to the society or school.

     

    Problems and solutions in Citizenship education.

     

    Research carried out by NFER has shown that one of the main constraints on the delivery of citizenship was the lack of staff expertise and therefore, there was bound to be some related decline of confidence amongst teachers. This has been shown in the Appendix, (Figure one) with approximately thirty percent of the secondary teachers showing a lack of citizenship education. If a school is not careful, then they risk defeating the entire purpose of the programme.

    It becomes worrying when another constraint, such as the pressure of the school timetables is included. Again, the appendix of figure one shows that the major constraint on the delivery of the themes in the secondary school has been the pressure on the school's timetable. The height of this problem speaks for itself when in both cases of the Primary and the High School, the pressure on the school's timetable for citizenship is respectively seventy and seventy five percent.

    It therefore becomes appropriate to examine the overcrowded curriculum of some subject areas which would be affected, once the cross-curricular themes are put in practice in an area such as Geography. The problem with this varies and one only need to look at situations where, not only family, but at least five other topics will be included in Geography as cross-curricular themes. One of my real fears is that teachers can use this as an excuse to avoid teaching the main substance or topics of Geography. There is also the possibility of the teacher putting less emphasis on the themes of citizenship, particularly if this is not included in the syllabus of the curriculum. On the same note, the real problem is of  teachers being burdened with more workload and in the end not achieving as much as he or she could.

    The problems of timetables, commitment of teachers and lack of funding are only some problems which should be rightly taken on board. The well being of the teacher is in my mind of even more importance. By this I mean the problems of clash of beliefs, values and ideas. This is particularly of concern for two reasons. One of which, is that the rights of the teacher is being abused. The other reason is that this could create further tension and, consequently defeat the entire purpose of citizenship.

    Not many teachers will be comfortable teaching certain topics which centres around debatable issues such as religion, race, nationality and even family patterns of marriage and structure. They can also open themselves to danger, particularly if they have not been experts on the areas of discussion or research.

    " In the commission's survey it was found that some schools taught citizenship as a separate subject within the curriculum". (Jones: 1992, pg 137)

    Jones’ findings extended to show that 95 percent of schools included citizenship education as themes in personal and social education. There has to be a good rationale for such a high trend and it is possible that the problems outlined could have been either foreseen or problems that they have experienced at the initial stage.

    It is in this respect that I would join hands with the 95 percent of the schools described. However it would be naive to believe that the problems have been solved by this only method.

     

    Conclusion

     

    The investigation and findings for this blog has widened my knowledge and given a better insight of the makeup of citizenship and the expectations of citizenship as a subject or a cross- curricular element in education.

    The presentation on voluntary organizations was very  instrumental in looking at the possible ways of teaching citizenship and integrating citizenship in the education system. The main idea as portrayed by the group was of the whole-school approach, supported by the cross-curricular approach. The advantages in the subject areas were highlighted in the assessment. The problems were also highlighted and then, the entire picture of how the school, the teachers and the pupils would be affected was put into perspective.

    It was based on the outcome of the findings that the conclusion was made that it would be best if citizenship was considered as a subject which was assigned to a teacher who was trained to teach such an area. There are advantages to cross-curricular themes added to the national curriculum. Although the cross-curricular elements as described in the assessment makes up part of the whole-curriculum, there are risks which can be proven to be detrimental in the long term. This possibility might not surface now, but some schools with poor management structure might be the first to see unfortunate results such as greater division in the society or the schools, a devastating knock on effect on the foundation and core subjects and an increasing number of teachers protesting against the added pressure forced onto them.

    It is sufficient to say that the constraint of the time will always be an issue, likewise many other issues which have been raised. However, with a more focused trained teacher in the area of citizenship, the teachers of the core and foundation subjects left to teach those areas only, and good coordination and good management structure, then there would be less concern and greater result.

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    The popular saying 'there is no smoke without fire' rings true with the increasing disregard of one human to another regardless of age seemingly have no links to its folly.
    Certainly, the use of illegal drugs, unemployment, greed and a host of other causes could have been added to the list for the above cause. The increasing rise in the abuse of children and subsequent abuse by children however, tends to be the smoke that many choose not to see, despite the maturity in its effects.

     


    Take for example, the torture of an elderly lady of seventy three years old in her seven million pound mansion. They used water boarding, they boiled the kettle and threw the boiled water over her arm and they even placed a sodden towel over her head to give the feeling of drowning. The culprits were young men, the eldest was 31. 
    This was not an isolated case though. Too often, in diverse parts of the United Kingdom and you will read or hear of a veteran being beaten, cut up; and in this case he was eighty three years old. Even elderly women are now being targeted; some eventually die a week later.

     


    I asked myself the question; why has it become a trend for the younger generation to be so hateful, disrespectful and indifferent towards the value of life itself?
    Personally, I believe that the media has a lot to answer for, when Hollywood continues to up its game on violent films to match the competition it faces from the many violent video games and many of the lyrics in the music; be it from the genre of pop or rap, just to name a couple of the many other genre that exist. Not to mention some of the music videos, or even worse; the internet where they are exposed to just about anything.
    However, when I watched a documentary on children's care homes presented by the one-time British gold holder of javelin throwing; Fatima Whitbread, I was gobsmacked to say the least at how many angry children we as a society have produced. In fact, if it were not for the luck of Fatima finding a loving home with a family willing to adopt her and even mentor her sporting ability, then she would have been one of the statistics in prison, killed or even be killed. It was this that forced me to look at some statistics from NSPCC research of the Radford et al 2011 focusing on child abuse. I then had to put these statistics into context of at least one of the sources for our youngsters of today age 2015:

     


    6196 in total were interviewed.
    1761 were young adults aged 18-24,
    2275 were children aged 11-17 and
    2160 were parents of children under 11 years old.
    The statistics that had me totally paralyzed was where it showed that 2/3 
    or 66% of contact sexual abused children were 0-17 which was perpetrated by someone aged under 18. 1 in 20; 11 - 17 years old experienced sexual abuse; but worse; statistics showed that 17,722 sexual crimes against children under sixteen were recorded in England and Wales in 2010/2011.


    I could not believe my naivety in thinking that things could never be this bad until I further learnt that there was a total of:

     


    5,115 rape of female children under the age of 16.
    918 incidents of rape of a male under 16.
    4301 sexual assault on a female child under 13.
    1125 sexual assault on a male child under 13 and
    310 offences of sexual grooming. 

     

    I was physically sick afterwards; of course I felt worse upon realizing that there are thousands more of unreported cases. Immediately, I could put into perspective the pain and passion of Fatima's cause. She was one of the statistics for rape when she was raped as a child. It also became clear to me why so many foster parents are greeted by so many angry children and why so many of these same children just cannot cope in society, never mind the classroom.  

     

    I truly worry for my generation and even the older ones; of course the innocent ones who would never have thought in a million years of hurting a fly much less a child. I worry because the trend is showing that these disaffected children are turning their untreated cases on us; the innocent citizens of this broken society. Kid yourself not in believing that this is just a United Kingdom problem, since in many cases, the situation is even worse in many other countries around the world.
    Clearly, there might be other influences for these sorts of abnormal behaviour, but on many occasions the profile of these culprits shows that they had been raped themselves or physically abused, and consequently, are products of their own surroundings or environments. The anger of those who were sexually abused; in most cases stays with them for life and if they are not treated, then I make no qualms about reiterating that it is us the innocent citizens of this wretched society who sometimes bear the brunt of it all.


    In order to put a different spin on this, I wish to highlight the riots in London during the summer of 2011. The riots spread to Birmingham and other Cities and Towns which were mainly perpetrated by youngsters. I wonder how many of them were not disciplined as they grew up. I say this to point out to you that whilst I believe that the abuse of children will in some cases results in disaffected children; not showing your child the discipline and harsh punishments they deserve; then this will certainly lead to a tear away child and subsequently a tear away adult. If you have not disciplined your child, then I fervently believe that you have not done a good job as a parent. At the same time, there are many good parents who are helpless because they do everything that is humanely possible so that their children can be good citizen, but the wretched society and the peer pressure has proven to be a much stronger influence and this is where the frustration and worry becomes burdensome. In today’s world I find it difficult to blame the parents from many different angles. There are cases where punishments cannot even solve the indiscipline portrayed by the misbehaved ones. Saying that; what needs to be understood here is that there is a line which should never be crossed. When you start to hit a child for the wrong reasons; be it you had a bad day, you are frustrated with the economic woes or you can't even think of a reason for hitting a child; then you have crossed that line. When you have hit a child on places of their bodies that you should never have done or you have indiscriminately hit a child with unreasonable forces with all sorts of instruments to leave a mark; then you have most definitely crossed that line.
    The line is being crossed increasingly, and subsequently there are murders, and that is what they are, murders of children such as Baby P, Victoria Climbie and Khyra Ishaq, just to name a few victims. Furthermore, the statistics are there to show just how ridiculously things are.

     

    Using the same total researched by Radford et al 2011;

    1 in 80 children under eleven years old have experienced physical violence at the hands of a parent or guardian; in severe cases it was 1 in 120.

    1 in 14 children aged 11-17 have experienced physical violence at the hands of a parent or guardian; in severe cases, it was 1 in 27. Can you now see how serious this really is?
    Have you now realized that the probability of you knowing someone who was abused is very high indeed; and yet you would never know. You would never know in some cases because in cases of sexual abuse for example; 4 out of 5 children aged 11-17; that was 82.7% who experienced contact child abuse from a peer did not tell anyone else about it. This is CRAZY; but I understand the fear, shame and in some cases denial that these individuals would have experienced.

     


    It was the very reason I chose to write the book, A Boy's Cry and the sequel The Missing Fathers. Not only because it became my closure, but I wanted those affected by abuse to understand that they are not alone; children or young adults, whether or not they have experienced all sorts of abuse to understand that they have the power to protect themselves and to punish the perpetrators of such heinous crimes. To make them understand that they are the voice and that they should in a sensible and careful way speak out and report their abusers. We are all involved and it does not matter if you have never been through any form of abuse; but your children or even grandchildren might very well be the next victim. But what can we do?


     I would like to follow in Fatima's footsteps and encourage you to be a foster parent or a foster parent if you can; and if you can go a step further, then please adopt a child, and give them a loving and caring home. If you think that someone needs counselling, encourage them to get it. It could really make the world of difference and could even mean the difference between life and death. Instead of hitting a child there are alternative actions which can be very effective punishments. The punishment or sanctions of taking away from the child something he or she loves until they conform to your rules and regulations can be very effective indeed. Even sending those to their rooms or not allowing them to be with their friends can be equally effective. The American style of staying in the corner or that stool has worked for many depending on the age. It is however equally important to praise and reward them for the good that they have done; this is a crucial part of administering rewards and sanctions to children in order to see progress in their behaviour.

     


    If you suspect that a child needs help as he or she shows all the tell-tale signs of abuse, then do your civil duty and help; even if it means shopping your best friend. Come on!
    There is also Child line which is so easily accessible on the internet these days. Failing that, please contact NSPCC and they will certainly put you in the right direction. I have supported the NSPCC and I can tell you that it is great to support them, and I can only encourage you to do the same. If in a different country, try to find out your national charity that fights against child abuse and support them all the way. Here is a good reason to support them in the battle:
    60-70%  child sex offenders target girls; while
    20-33% of them target boys only and
    10% do not care if it is a boy or a girl. 



    How can you know someone, or even suspect someone fitting such statistics and keep quiet, especially where there is insurmountable  evidence? If it was an adult who disclosed to you that they were abused, be their confidant; but encourage them to get professional help. If they read, then offer them a book along that line which will support them or at least give them some answers. Fatima was in her fifties and when I watched her, it was as if the pain was so fresh it may have happened yesterday; in fact, it was as if it had never left her. I sure hope that by reading this blog, that you will do your part; after all; you do not know everyone who lives on your street and sometimes even next door to you.

     

    Andrew Beckford
    Teacher and Author of A Boy’s Cry

    You can buy A Boy’s Cry by clicking here. 

     

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    As a teacher in the classroom, I get a firsthand experience of the ill-effects of single parenting. I have always said that the classroom is the shadow of the real community, and therefore I have gained a greater or deeper insight of the social and cultural dynamics of the larger populous. The notion that single parenting never works is not true; in fact, my experience has been that in many instances, it was the children of single parenting who were better behaved and respectful. On the other hand, some children with both parents in the household can and have been difficult and in some cases impossible to deal with. 

    Saying that, it is in the majority that I find children of single parenting becoming truants, school drop outs, facing suspensions or expulsions for a series of demeanor. Let us be real and analyze the crunch of matter. I would like to peel off the problematic layers behind most, if not all those children of single-parenting. I was a child of single parenting, and today is no different from the seventies and eighties when I was a child, in the sense that Mothers were always the ones left to bring up the child on their own.

    My behaviour was reasonably good at all times and it had to be since I had no choice on the matter, nevertheless, the pain of having a mother and no father was always a painful experience. I am sorry, but no matter how much of a super mother or father you are, he or she will never be able to replace the physical, social or cultural needs of either sex as it relates to the daughter or the son. I am certain that every Mother would rather to see the father around, but I must say that the reality has been that many fathers and mothers have subconsciously created that atmosphere. For instance, I know of too many young couples who have deliberately gotten involved with each other in countries such as the UK so as to have a baby with a planned motive of getting a house amongst other privileges. For some the habit grows into several more convenient children. 

     

    Unfortunately for many, some of these women suddenly realized or pre-meditated that the house could be theirs and theirs only. Especially if there was a new love interest, in fact most times there was never a new love interest. In other circumstances the father is unable to deal with the financial stress and so as usual he runs. This behaviour eminently lead to the absenteeism of the father, hence single parenting. Further to this, as the child grows older, that child's mind might be poisoned against the father and if the father is lucky to see that child, he too might very well poison that child's mind against his mother. 

     

    The girls tend to be the silent victims because they seldom react negatively; perhaps due to the female bond, but when they do react negatively; I guarantee you that they can be worse. Most of the times, the girls will react with teenage pregnancies and this is shown with the statistics in the USA where it shows that the daughters of teen mothers are twenty two percent more likely than their peers to become teen mothers. In most instances pregnant teenagers are linked to single parenting. The situation in the UK becomes dire when on average, 90,000 teenage conception is carried out every year. It follows that many girls will seek a father figure in the absence of their father leading to a barrage of social baggage. It was of no surprise then to learn that in the UK more than 66 percent of single-parent families lived in rented housing compared to 22 percent of couples with dependent children. This has only demonstrated one of the social decay which transpires into greater social difficulties. The boys, on the other hand, you can bet your last dollar that many of them will turn to the gang, again in order to replace the void of the father. Most of these men will inevitably find themselves behind bars. In order to support this, again the statistics from Teenhelp.com shows that sons of teenage mothers have a thirteen percent greater chance of ending up in prison compared to their peers.

     

    Although for many, this might not be plausible; many of the boys also replace the void of their father with other males. The difference in this instance has been that the males will not get pregnant. Whether the child is a male or female, the pain of not having a mother or father is real. In many cases, feeling unwanted is the worse part of this unending drama. Please understand that this pain will never leave them.

    For some who have denied the impact of single parenting on them; as they get older or in times of illness, the shocking truth have out rightly faced them. This is when it can become a matter of life or death. Here is a typical example where a child not knowing the mother or father and as he or she grows older, God forbid they might have had symptoms which could have been used to detect an hereditary fatal illness which could have been treated, monitored or even cured; if only they had knowledge of their unknown family's health history. Many have died because they did not know that an early detected illness would have saved their lives. I knew of three cases, and they were angry, helpless individuals on realizing their unfortunate situations could have been prevented.

     

    Please do not for a minute believe that I am in anyway demonizing single parenting. After all, there are many cases where single parenting was unavoidable. There might have been a divorce or even death of one of the parents and this will certainly; in many cases lead to single parenting. This however does not negate from the reality that the children will ultimately be affected in many cases more than one. It is in this regard that solutions must be glanced at.

    •      In all cases; you must increase the dosage of your love as a single parent. At no time you should let the child feel responsible or be blamed for the absenteeism of any of the parent.

    •      If the mother or father died; be realistic, in fact have some monument in the home for them to visit from time to time. Allow the child/children to mourn and, mourn with them; you supporting them makes a great difference. Nevertheless, do not allow the death to overshadow yours or their lives.

    •      Be firm with discipline just the same and in cases of divorce or death; if you can instill or maintain some of the rules the deceased had implemented and the children had responded well to, then this might very well be the answer, might even be the closure for an individual.

    •      If the father or mother went AWOL; make sure that you put as good a picture as it gets of that person. Let the child create his or her own judgment as they are not fools and they will put the pieces together in due course, but never be dishonest with them should they ask questions. In the end it was not their fault and they must be made to understand this. Make sure that you do not show any form of evil such as lies or vindictive tales against their father or mother because as they reflect the true reality of life, YOU WILL be their number one enemy for life and you do not want this. They will also think that it was you who caused the absence of their father or mother, and rightly so.

    •      Try to simultaneously be their parents and FRIENDS at the same time. In the event of being their friends, you are more likely to hear just about anything from them. They will be glad to share their day to day activities with you and this will put you in a protective position as you should be. Do not be shy to ask them how their day was. If they visited a friend, ask them about the events of the day. Take notice of all of their body language since most of our communication is through our body language. Only seven percent of our communication is by the words we use and more than fifty five percent of our communication is from our body language. This speaks volume and since children of single parenting are vulnerable, it is important that we watch out for what they say and how they say. Saying that, make sure that your strict parental roles shine at all times so that the line is never crossed as you try to show the friendship role.

    •      If they are wearing anything which you or they cannot afford, then alarm bells must be rung or the panic button must be pushed.

    •      Be strict, but fair and never allow your socio-economic strain decide how you behave towards your children. Remember that the key or solution to the struggle of any parenting, but more so, single parenting, is LOVE and never how much you have in your bank account.

    Andrew Beckford,
    Teacher and Author of A Boy's Cry. 

    You can buy A Boy’s Cry by clicking here.

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