"You may want to make yourself more beautiful in front of him": Gender positioning in Secondary School Liberal Studies classrooms

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers

Abstract

In line with Cameron (2005)’s notion of postmodern feminism, the paper explores the ways in which senior secondary boys and girls and teachers construct and position gender through actions, texts, talk and gestures in Hong Kong Senior Secondary Liberal Studies, a core school subject aiming to develop students' analytic capacity on social issues including gender. The paper draws upon discourse analysis to show that when everyday classroom practices are viewed in relation to multiple fields of actions, i.e. the societal, the institutional, and in the micro dynamics of classroom interaction, gender comes into view in a variety of ways. The study was guided by the following research question:

What gendered discourses are co-constructed, negotiated or/and resisted by the Liberal Studies curriculum, school teachers and students?

To this end, school ethnography was conducted in the Liberal Studies subject in two Hong Kong schools for two years. The study had three stages and triangulated data from official curriculum documents, semi-structured interviews, classroom observation, and students' writing assignments.

In the first stage, interviews were conducted with teachers and students and student writing was collected in both schools. In the second stage, gender education lessons in Liberal Studies were video-taped in both schools. In the third stage, interview data and writing samples were collected from the same research participants. It is found that mainstream prototypes of femininity and masculinity are still perpetuated in the Liberal Studies classrooms, such as gender duality and traditional gender norms, which appears to defeat the subject's purpose to encourage diversity of gender subject positions and critical reflection on traditional gender values. The paper highlights how classroom language and literary events may subtly reproduce gender inequality in schooling contexts and suggests how teachers can create heteroglossic discursive space to nurture gender equity among adolescent students. Copyright © 2018 American Association For Applied Linguistics.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

Citation

Liu, Y. (2018, March). "You may want to make yourself more beautiful in front of him": Gender positioning in Secondary School Liberal Studies classrooms. Paper presented at the 2018 conference of the American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL), Chicago, USA.

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