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Identity in question
Identity in question

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2.2.1 Summary

  • Children's developing understanding of gender can be described as a search for certainty.

  • Young children make mistakes about gender illustrating their rigidity and their naive certainty regarding gender.

  • As children's knowledge of gender grows in complexity, basic biological knowledge is added to their social-cultural understanding.

  • Research by Francis illustrating girls' ‘sensible-selfless’ and boys' ‘silly-selfish’ behaviour demonstrates how gender identities are constructed and maintained.

  • Children's knowledge of gender in relation to their own identity and that of others develops both in terms of flexibility (in that they can accommodate diversity) and in reliability.

  • Masculine and feminine identities are not fixed, partly because identities are multidimensional. Diversity arises through the existence of masculinities and femininities.

It is possible to continue to follow this story of what is typical through investigating how constructions and perceptions of gender identities may affect experience of school and subsequently performance at school. One could explore the claim that performance in exams may to a certain extent be dependent upon gender, both in terms of one's own identity, and in terms of how schooling as a social process deals with masculinity and femininity.