(no subject)

From: Subject:
Date: Thu Dec 02 1999 - 09:23:48 EST

Response to/questions about opening comments by:
Jayshree A. Mehta
> Many studies show that the factors which affect negatively to the girls
> participation in Science, Technology and Mathematics (STM ) are: lack of
> family and peers support, lack of role models, teachers attitudes (not
> sensitive to gender issues), organization of science and technology >
curricula and contents, Irrelevant and uninteresting teaching methods and > lack
of connection to daily lives...

It seems to me that the latter three points also encourage boys to drop out.
This is a point raised by another panelist ? a lot of what we need to do is to
just improve teaching in general for everyone. An interesting question in
gender differences might be to ask why girls are more sensitive to bad teaching
than boys are, but answering the question won't change the "engineering
solution," which is to help teachers have a better organized curriculum, with
more apparent relevance, more interesting examples and activities, and more
connection to the daily lives of students. Like the old metalsmiths who didn't
understand why iron needed to interact with charcoal, we can apply the
"technology" without understanding the underlying cause and effect.

> Some of the challenges we face are:
> 2. How to gender sensitize large no. of teachers at primary, secondary > and
under graduate level?

I suspect any sort of investigation would show that American teachers are fairly
sensitive to gender issues, in the sense that politically correct lip service
would be paid. So I think in that sense, American teachers have been pretty
much made gender sensitive. However, changing behavior is a lot harder, as
those of us who teach in American schools know pretty well. The problem with
making teachers sensitive to gender issues is, in the long run, the problem of
making society sensitive to gender issues. And I'd like to include teachers at
the graduate level to that list!

"Bill Lamb" <lambb@mail.oes.edu>

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