The following toolbox is one of several results of a transnational project funded by the European Union. It contains 16 activities that can be implemented in different school subjects and different arenas in school. The activities range from activities that can be carried out in shorter periods to activities that lasts for longer periods of time. All the activities have clearly formulated objectives, instructions and can be supplemented with didactic resources, which are also included in the toolbox.
The project in which the toolbox inscribes itself, is concerned with ways to fight gender stereotypes in school, and here follows a brief introduction to some of the concepts and understandings regarding gender and stereotypes:Gender – as opposed to sex – is concerned with what one could call social and cultural understandings of gender. Where sex refers to biology, chromosomes and hormones, gender refers to cultural and social understandings of appropriate and inappropriate gendered behavior. This means that our understanding of what is masculine and what is feminine changes over time and depends on where one lives, which culture one is brought up in.
Boys and girls? Binarity or not? Gender, and beyond…
Point de vigilance/Cautionary Point
The GATE-project rests upon an understanding of gender as fluid and in constant process – in other words: gender and gendered behaviour is negotiated and challenged culturally as well as individually and is performed according to the script in which it inscribes itself.
However, the objective of the GATE-project (to challenge gender stereotypes through education) calls upon an understanding of these very real and existing stereotypes and must therefore address stereotypes through activities and reflections that take point of departure in these understandings.
This means that the project – to a certain extent – operate with a binary understanding of gender but acknowledges and strives towards deconstruction of a binary system in order to accommodate several gender identities.
Therefore, understandings of what is appropriate behavior is neither fixed in eternity nor directly linked to the biological sex. As an example of this, in the late 19th century and early 20th century women were thought to be physically weak, and therefore needed protection from the stronger man. They were also thought to be emotionally weak, unable to make rational decisions and were therefore also ‘protected’ from making crucial decisions about there own lives by the men surrounding them. Not until the 20th century women in Europe achieved full right to vote (Bulgaria and France 1944, Denmark, 1915, Finland 1906, Spain 1931), indicating that up till them, women were thought incapable of contributing to political influence. Much have changed over the last 100 years, but men and women are still to this day in much rhetoric and practical issues thought of as fundamentally different, thus requiring differentiated treatment and expected to perform differently. And much of this starts in early childhood and in education.
The GATE-project therefore set out to challenge these understandings by investigating best practice in schools in partner countries, gathering these best practices in a database, and constructed a toolbox based on these practices to be implemented in schools in EU-countries. The purpose of the toolbox was to provide teachers and educators of children between 8 and 12 with resources and activities that would fight these ongoing unequal and biased treatments of boys and girls. The toolbox consists of four types of ‘pages’ which have been color-coded for accessibility:The pink pages serve as introductory pages, where you can read about the background for the toolbox, why we have chosen to create a toolbox (as opposed to a catalogue or a linear teaching material), what the toolbox consists of and certain points that the teacher needs to be aware of. The yellow pages contain keywords and the European framework of competencies, which helps the user in creating an overview of what the different activities and resources address. The green pages are the proper activities to be implemented in the classroom, and they are organized by the European framework of competencies. This means that there is one green page for each set of competencies, and it also means that some of the activities figure on more than one page, as some activities address more than one set of competencies. Finally, the white pages present the good practices collected in the partner countries as well as resources that can be used when wanting to investigate the topic of the project further.