This week officially marks the seventh installment of An Interesting Perspective. In today’s post, we will discuss the importance of equity within the classroom, and how having an equitable classroom is beneficial to everyone.
Picture this. You hear that a new, ground-breaking scientific discovery was found. It’s all anybody is talking about. You hear while walking through the streets, “This discovery has the potential to change the world.” Now, picture what you think the scientist who discovered this looks like. You might be thinking of somebody like this:
But why didn’t you think of somebody like this:
A scientist is not defined by their appearance. Anybody can be a scientist, no matter their height, their weight, their age, the clothing they wear, their gender, or their ethnicity.
With this said, we often see very large discrepancies between males and females in science. This can be attributed to many things, but one of them is schooling. In fact, we have seen widespread gender segregation in schools, which has hindered effective classroom communication.
This is dangerous, and can be very detrimental to students. Balance is necessary for any part of life, and that includes equity within a classroom. Take this for example. We can compare classroom equity with basketball. In basketball, if a team only settles for outside jump shots, they may score some big baskets, but won’t be able to score some easy baskets in the post. In a classroom, if all of your focus is on male students succeeding in science, you will have some go on to become scientists, but you will have missed out on the opportunity to encourage females to do the same.
So, what are some strategies to create this balance?
Place female students in leadership roles as often as male students. This is essential for classroom equity, because it allows both males and females to be seen as leaders equally. it also gives both males and females a chance to experience leadership roles, which can create a better sense of responsibility and understanding.
We must support gender diversity and strive for gender equity in leadership #WeForSheBC
— Min of Justice/Attorney General of Canada (@MinJusticeEn) November 17, 2017
Call on males and females equally. This is crucial. This allows students to see that their ideas and inputs are an important part of the classroom discussion and learning process. It allows them to see that their ideas do matter and that they can make an impact.
Intervene when females defer to males, and males allow them to. Don’t allow students to defer questions to which they’re not sure. Allow them to think through the question and formulate their own answers. If students are constantly deferring their questions, they will not be confident in their problem solving abilities.
Promote non-traditional career paths. This can be applied to all genders. If you have female students who want to pursue a career in STEM, work with them to do so. The same is true for males. If you have male students who want to pursue art or early childhood education, work with them to do so, as well. Diversity in any career field is important to create a new perspective, which can help solve many problems.
Having an inequitable classroom can be a hindrance to everyone. Instead, have an equitable classroom. This allows students to have the best opportunity for success in whatever it is they choose to pursue. It promotes confidence and pride in the students’ work and thoughts. It levels the playing field and allows students the opportunity to bring out their full potential.