Finally, a book on how to teach gender equality in school

Patrizia Danieli wrote the volume What kind of stereotypes published by Leditions. She is a theater educator, educator and primary school teacher. For several years he has been involved with gender pedagogy, through training courses for adults and adults, but also through storytelling workshops and theater performances for boys and girls. She is the author of articles for the magazines, Vitamine Vaganti and Leggendaria.

“My first professional identity is a theater educator. In 2010, I wanted to build one show about women: I was interested in understanding how some women had succeeded over time cultivate his talents to the point of attaining a profession, despite the fact that society was hostile to them.
As often happens (especially women, given data on gender pay gaps, f the latest edition of the Istat study on the use of time between women and men by Cappadozzi, Michelini, Sabbadini) “starting a family” conditions professional life. I was mother, I changed my hometown and put my research aside. But not for long: i 2015, on the occasion of a thesis to another degree, I wondered how I could combine the work about the feminine with pedagogy. Thus I began to explore a very large world, consisting of studies which in Italy now has more than 50 years of life. I have noticed that the humanities often have work specifically across disciplinary sectors; my intention was to create an instrument useful, concise but not superficial, which could map the existing, both in terms of content, by noting the studies of the various disciplines over time, and by tracing good ones practice: tools therefore to make gender education, but also references today
basics: activities in associations, groups, initiatives, publishers. The book is born with the thought of “Network” “.

Danieli has written a very important book based on the analysis of the society we live in, immersed in a family culture where Italian women work less than the average European woman and compensate for the shortcomings of welfare. Transfer of beliefs, values ​​and social roles is the heart of education: in the home, in the institutions. And it is from this awareness that we must start if we are to build a better and equal society.

The purpose of this volume it is, on the one hand, to deconstruct the obvious, recognizing gender stereotypes in language, in images, in the textbooks of the primary school, in the literary canon. On the other hand, to propose an idea of ​​pedagogical education starting from the self, as no one can be said to be exempt from running into gender stereotypes, both in personal and professional life. Precisely because of its transformative potential, gender pedagogy should be part of everyone’s baggage. This text contains suggestions: materials, research, games, for the teacher and for anyone who feels educational responsibility.

When did you realize that boys and girls are starting to become male chauvinists?

Patriarchal culture is internalized through clichés, sayings, through silence. According to an idea of ​​knowledge that is not objective, but incorporated, situated (Standpoint theory), which is based on experience, I invite everyone to be aware of what we have under our eyes every day. In the introduction, I reported this episode:
That was in 2016, when my son was going to celebrate his first carnival in kindergarten. “Gaia,” he said to me, “can not dress like a knight.” “Because?” I answered. “Because it’s a girl, Mom.” I am thinking today of the words of the young and award-winning Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “because you are a woman, there is never a good reason to do or do nothing”.

Common idioms are the subject of pedagogical research because they condition the educational process, they are expectations that we instill in children from infancy and are so powerful that they guide men and women to some choices over others. My son was only three years old. Someone had taught him – maybe even me without knowing it – that there are things for men and things for women. Colors, sports, games for boys and games for
women, clothes and then – of course – professions and talents. Fortunately, today we have a rich scientific literature that demonstrates how women and men enter different professions precisely on the basis of precisely crystallized ideas, stereotypes of
masculine and feminine, which over time have been regarded as natural, therefore immutable, even unthinkable, not subjected to the scrutiny of gender criticism.
In schools, in informal moments, I often see associated temperament traits with girls or boys by virtue of their biological affiliation with their gender. “She’s weak because all females are weak. But what did I say about bad teacher? I meant delicate. Did I say something wrong?”
Also in this case, it may be useful to look at his own experience: There are many delicate men next to women who are smaller, it is necessary to talk about them and cultivate new narratives, from the earliest childhood.

Is it possible to teach gender language in school or are there ideological oppositions?

Yes, it is absolutely possible, yes, a duty. Language is linked to the imagination, to the ability to think and think about the world. Fortunately, today in the primary school there are publishers who have set out to carry out a specific attention to gender equality based on the language, but without neglecting images and content. The textbook helps the teacher a lot, supports the work and strengthens not only the woman’s visibility, but also the visibility of others
underrepresented categories.
I remember Rizzoli-Erikson, in collaboration with Prof. Biemmi (teacher of gender pedagogy) and the Pearson publishing house in collaboration with Prof. Cavagnoli (linguist) and Prof. Serafini (historian). In the year of publication of my book, Indici Paritari was born: a group of teachers who aimed to promote new publications related to the school world, precisely through ten years of research that testifies to how sexist education is institutionalized
through textbooks. The resistances, even between colleagues and colleagues when they exist, are not of a grammatical nature but of a cultural one. The masculine is traditionally associated with prestige, and here is the resistance in terms of the declinations of the professions. Moreover, women got into paid work not many years ago (historically): people therefore did not know how to reject the terms of some occupations for women. Hence the emergence of the numerous suffixes in it, which are now considered unnecessary.

In your opinion, is the Italian primary school up in the complicated age we live in?

According to a report by the European Commission, in 2010 Italy is among the countries that “lack substantial policies on gender equality in education”. The comparative study of the day showed that all European countries were embarking on implementing gender equality policies. Italy was therefore an exception. Since 2015, there have been guidelines that recommend ways to increase awareness of gender equality, but they are a
discretion of the individual institutions. Thinking about equality means looking at reality with new lenses, rethinking one’s path, questioning oneself at the relationship level. In that sense, I fear that it will be easier to rely on other, albeit important, goals in the 2030 agenda.

Are there currently teacher educations on gender culture?

In Italy, structured courses on gender education can be counted on the fingers of one hand. I will remember Alice Project and the S.CO.SSE association In the book I talked about Impariascuola, a project of AFOL Metropolitana, a Milanese training agency, born in 2010, which today boasts 12 years of activity. Among the co-creators we find Mara Ghidorzi, (sociologist) and Barbara Mapelli, one of the best known teachers of gender education in Italy.

Are (female) teachers male chauvinists?

Male chauvinism has no sex. Gender is a neutral variable that serves to study the social world. It examines the relationship between men and men, between men and women, between women and women and discovers which masculinity or femininity is dominant and which are subordinate. Each of us internalizes gender stereotypes and role models. It is up to us to reread ourselves, ourselves and our relationships through the gender lens.

Which European country do you think most respects gender equality?

In Sweden and Denmark, gender education is practiced in schools by law. I think it may be a far-sighted choice of political will. In fact, the state must take responsibility for educating people: citizens and small towns. Gender education is about citizenship and democracy.

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