chapter  9
18 Pages

CHILDREN AND GENDER: CONSTRUCTIONS OF DIFFERENCE

O n such o c c a s i o n s — w h e n gender d iv is ions were h i g h l i g h t e d a n d " the g i r l s "

and " the b o y s " were def ined as separate, o p p o s i n g g r o u p s — I felt I was at the

heart o f chi ldren 's gender relat ions. B u t these m o m e n t s are n o t the w h o l e o f

social life i n e lementa ry schools; at o ther t imes boys and girls in te rac ted i n re -

laxed rather than b o u n d e d a n d antagonist ic ways. A t example f r o m the same

four th-and-f i f th -grade classroom:

A student teacher h a d l is ted var ious activit ies o n the boa rd and asked s tu-

dents to choose one and s ign up for i t . T h r e e boys and t w o girls had c h o s e n

to tape r eco rd a rad io play. T h e teacher t o l d t h e m they c o u l d rehearse i n the

back o f the r o o m . T h e y m o v e d f r o m the i r desks, settled i n chairs at a r o u n d

table (seated g i r l - b o y - g i r l - b o y - b o y ) , a n d t o o k turns l e a n i n g i n t o the m i c r o -

p h o n e and read ing f r o m the scr ipt . N o w and t hen they s topped to talk a n d

argue as a group .