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Gender Differences

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I am investigating whether the National Curriculum enhances gender difference in schools to see if boys and girls have the same access into physical education. I will be looking at the teacher's role and what their beliefs and attitudes are towards physical education, the national curriculum content on physical activity and what they believe in and I will investigate the attitudes of boys and girls doing P.E.

Kirk and Tinning (1990) explain how research agencies and the press have be conducting physical fitness surveys in schools after there have been concerns about a child's health. With the help of the national curriculum physical education has become more recognised through schools. Thomas (1991) cited in Armstrong & Sparkes (1991) suggested that equal treatment for men and woman embodied in our law needed to be supported in the curricular and was essential that equal circular opportunity was available to both boys and girls.

In accordance to Davis et al (1991) it was noticed that there was a physical deterioration among the working class and was recommended that the male adolescent population should undergo training that would benefit them to bear arms. This mainly came into effect after the 1902 Boar War. Boys were pushed into becoming tough and aggressive within PE lessons so they could become stronger and self prepared. This specific training, military drills were for preparation for the next war. Girls on the other hand had to do feminine appropriate sports and games like gymnastics, so from there sport became sex specific.

Dudley Education Services (1990) follows guidelines of the national curriculum, which says,"Pupils should receive full equality of access and entitlement in all areas of curriculum. Girls and boys should participate together in appropriate physical activities with decisions about mixed groups". (pp 27) Although the curriculum stated that girls and boys should participate together Hargreaves (1994) shows how sex stereotyping in games still happens, which started in primary schools as the older girls and boys where separated for competitive team games. This showed that co-education classes were only appropriate for younger children. This stereotyping carried on after school where there was a tradition of single sex competitions such as local league football for boys and netball for the girls. Images of gender still remained intact.

Williams (1989) shows how primary aged girls and boys have sex -linked attitudes to their experience outside school as separate programmes of games is what many children

expect and accept. Girls and boys accept these separate programmes because of the influences that relate to how a teacher delivers their session to a child. Talbot (1995) talks about how teachers claim they espouse equality of opportunity for all children but their teaching behaviours and practices reveal entrenched sex stereotyping, based on what is suitable for girls and boys, both in single-sex and mixed groups and schools.

Ennis (1998) shows the behaviour of male physical education teachers. He suggests, "Male teachers become angry with the low motivation and interest of the girls, as they have to work harder to motivate them. Boys in turn were inpatient with the slower pace of drill and lead up games in co-educational classes and were eager to participate in traditional competitive games". (pp 753-754) Cockburn (2001) showed that in doing a survey of how girls felt when playing games with boys, the majority of them said they felt embarrassed because boys laughed at them if they couldn't kick the ball. Williams (1989) survey showed that some of the boys didn't mind the girls playing games with them but found it frustrating when they couldn't win the game because the girls where too slow. Other research of Williams (1989) showed that boys felt intimidating if the girls were better than them at certain games skills.

Other reasons why girls have low motivation towards PE could be the physiological factors. Thomas et al (1998) explains how boys fat remains relatively stable at 15% from 6-17 years of age while girls show steady increase from 15% up to the age of 6 years and 29% to the age of 17 years. This is because puberty occurs; the breasts and hips increase and girls exercise decreases as they become very conscious with their bodies.

In relation to the physiological factors, Biddle (1991) cited in Armstrong & Sparkes suggests "males have higher perceptions of competence and more positive expectations in achievements settings than females, and therefore tend to attribute success to stable and internal factors. Females have low expectations of success and therefore attribute success to luck or other unstable and external cause, and failure to internal stable factors such as lack of ability". (pp 96) This is well documented in Williams (2000) as many girls dislike games and have low levels of interest. Their attitudes are affected by their perceptions of their ability, the games played and often the uniform, which they are required to wear.

Thomas et al (1988) shows that there were high levels of participation in PE outside school rather than in side schools and on doing a girls report it showed that the activities offered to girls in schools were not what they wanted or liked doing. These activities were also team sports. This shows that boys get more out of what they want in PE and continue to participate as to the girls who lose interest.

Dudley education services (1990) suggest that the national curriculum documentation in teaching styles of teacher pupil interaction implements equality of opportunity through mixed sex grouping, it eliminates stereotypical attitudes and has a greater balance to pupils of the opposite gender and realisation that girls are not less skilled or less able in physical activities. Maybe male teachers stereotypical attitudes don't just rely on the male teachers to girls but female teachers have an attitude towards boys in PE. Ennis (1998) said that teachers feel pressured when teaching mixed classes in team sports as the girls don't play as competitive as the 'demanding' boy's. Most of the games are slower and focus on enjoyment not competition. The girls found it hard because male teachers taught the boys team sports and it was very difficult to get the boys to do anything else. The male teachers were not interested to teach girls activities, so the girls hung back and gave up as most felt intimidating towards the intensity of the boy's games.

Talbot (1995) shows that girls and boys equal access to a range of physical activities are limited by practice which are intended to protect girls from competitive sports.



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