Gendered Concept Formation in Educational Processes

Submitted by: A. Fulya Soğuksu
Abstract: This research is an attempt to understand in what ways gendered concept formation practices are in interaction with learning and teaching processes in lower-secondary school settings.
The existing feminist work pertaining to gender issues in schools has revealed that gender is influential in educational processes while at the same time these processes have an important role to play in constructing gender identities and perpetuating gender stereotypes and inequalities in schools (Skelton & Francis, 2009). Similarly, we can talk about an interplay between concept formation, being an indispensable component of learning and teaching processes, and the dominant gender regimes in schools. Eckert and McConnell-Ginet (2003) have noted the centrality of gender schemas to sustain the gender order and the effect of gender categorisation on shaping individuals’ actions. With an effort to achieve an in-depth understanding of how educational processes affect and are shaped by gendered concept formation practices in schools, this research draws on an ethnographic approach (Hammersley & Atkinson, 2007). The relevant data required to perform a detailed analysis of students’ concept formation practices associated with gender is constructed through a cultural lens by using observations in lower-secondary school settings in two cities in Turkey. Data construction involves individual qualitative interviews with students, classroom observations in Turkish and English language lessons, and observations outside the formal learning and teaching atmosphere including intervals, lunchtimes, cultural activities, etc. We keep detailed field notes of all observations in and out-of classroom settings throughout the data construction process. We expect that the ethnographic data that we draw on in this research can potentially provide useful insights into how educational processes shape gendered concept formation practices and how this reflects in the gender order in schools. We also believe that there is still room in the relevant literature for research especially in the Turkish context concerning gendered concept formation and the role of language in shaping gender identity construction and sustaining the gender regimes in schools, which will also serve to broaden the gender debate and make a valuable contribution to better understand the role of teachers and teacher educators in this sense.

Keywords: Gendered concept formation, learning and teaching processes, ethnography.

Eckert, P., & McConnell-Ginet, S. (2003). Language and gender. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hammersley, M., & P. Atkinson. (2007). Ethnography: Principles in practice. London: Routledge.
Skelton, C., & Francis, B. (2009). Feminism and ‘the schooling scandal’. Abingdon: Routledge.