Understanding Gender Roles in School-Smart and Mother-Wise Essay

Understanding Gender Roles in School-Smart and Mother-Wise Essay

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Understanding Gender Roles in Wendy Luttrell's School-Smart and Mother-Wise


"I had went so far I just got tired. I had got to the place where I didn't care if I learned anything or not" (59). This quote expresses quite plainly but strongly what many of the women in Wendy Luttrell's School-Smart and Mother-Wise felt in regards to their educational experience. Though Lilly put the thought into words, any number of these women probably had the same feelings concerning their school-age years. This paper will focus on Chapter 5 from that book, "Storied Selves and School Mission". I believe that many of the strongly established gender roles we have in society today are predominantly socialized and implanted in the impressionable minds of youth in school. Through examples from the book, as well as my own personal anecdotes, this paper will examine how schools institutionalize these gender roles; how this affects the self-concept that students (especially female students) have; and what we, as a society, have learned from this.

Luttrell's study consisted of interviewing working class women who had decided to return back to school in their middle-aged years. She conducted the study with two groups, one from rural North Carolina, and one from urban Philadelphia. While there were many differences in the two groups' sentiments on many aspects of school, not one of the women she interviewed said they felt comfortable in school. Many of the women attributed this to class differences between them and their teachers, and these class differences very often involved geographic distinctions. For the Philadelphia women, it was an "suburban-urban" (55) issue, and for the women from North Carolina it was an "urban-rural" (55) issue. These c...


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...implement. In my opinion, gender stratification in society-at-large is the issue at hand, not the mirroring of that in the school system. But, ultimately, the discussion of gender stratification in society, or the reflection of that stratification in the schools is a chicken or egg question. I think that an entire overhaul of the school system and curricula is necessary to help the schools emerge from the 1960's (which was the last time much of the curricula was seriously revised, including my high school in Baton Rouge) and into the 21st century. This rethinking would take out hidden assumptions about gender and place boys and girls on a more even footing in an academic setting. This egalitarian classroom would then be translated into the society-at-large and we would finally become a society in which gender equality is not only talked about, but actually exists.

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