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Aspirations to Gender Equality in Philosophy, Political Activism, and Education  

Gregory Bynum

Late 20th-century and early 21st-century social movement toward gender equality in society has been significant. Parents and educators commonly expect that all youngsters should have the same life opportunities regardless of gender. In education, girls and young women are excelling, often equaling and even surpassing boys and men in academic performance and in earning college degrees and graduate degrees. Further, women are more frequently assuming traditionally “masculine” professional roles (doctor, lawyer, manager, legislator, governor, and others) while men more frequently assume traditionally “feminine” roles, successfully taking on more child care and housework, and working in nursing and other traditionally “feminine” fields. At the same time, preferences for gender hierarchy are still strongly expressed in many areas of society. At the top of leading social institutions including government and business, men still possess far more political, economic, and intellectual leadership power and authority in comparison to women; and in reaction to political and economic power imbalances, women’s rights activists sometimes express the idea of female superiority instead of arguing for gender equality. In the area of socialization, girls and women continue experiencing high levels of gender-specific pressure to conform to narrow ideals of physical beauty and emotional supportiveness, while boys and men continue experiencing pressure to avoid communicating about their vulnerabilities and emotions, possibly stunting their emotional development and impairing their mental health. In this context, gender equality emerges as a vital, early-21st-century educational imperative that is essential in actualizing what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has designated the right of all people to an education for the “full development of the human personality.” In the gender equality imperative’s emergence in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the following elements are all interrelated: philosophical perspectives and sociopolitical developments indicating a need for gender equality, thinking and practices opposed to gender equality, and the development of pro-gender-equality educational understandings and practices.

Article

Praise in Education  

Sofia Benson-Goldberg and Karen A. Erickson

Classroom teachers receive myriad advice about how best to manage students’ attention, interest, and behavior. Praise is often highlighted as a specific tool that teachers should use to reinforce both behavior and learning. Since praise statements are positive evaluations of students’ performance or behavior, they are thought to be an encouraging, motivating, and affirming tool for reinforcement. So strong is this belief in praise that many interventions have been created to increase the rate of praise teachers offer in both general and special education classrooms. These interventions, when evaluated narrowly, appear to be successful because increased rates of teacher praise result in increased student compliance. However, when evaluated more broadly, research shows that praise statements have long-lasting, often negative impacts on students that may inadvertently negatively impact academic achievement. Therefore, despite the seemingly positive benefits of praise, its role in learning and development remains unsettled.