chapter  13
26 Pages

The School as an Agent of Gender Development

Children spend more time in school than they do anywhere else except at home, so it is certainly reasonable to assume that interactions that take place at school will have an impact on them. When you think of the infl uence of school on children’s development, you probably fi rst think of the academic impact-the curriculum of the school. At school children learn to read, write, and compute, and they learn about literature, history, geography, science, culture, and language. We can refer to this as the formal curriculum of the school-the academic subject matter that schools intend to teach to children. For the most part, at least in the industrialized world, the formal curriculum is very similar for children of both sexes. Even so, boys or girls may learn the formal curriculum differently, or they may be taught it differently, or they may be advised or choose to take different types of courses. If that is the case, even experiences with the formal curriculum can infl uence the process of gender development. But much more takes place in school than educating children in the formal curriculum. Researchers have identifi ed at least three other types of curricula that are part of the school experience: the informal curriculum, the null curriculum, and the hidden curriculum (Koch, 2003). These three curricula are perhaps especially relevant to the process of gender development.