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A Progressive Education?How Childhood Changed in Mid-Twentieth-Century English and Welsh Schools$
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Laura Tisdall

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781526132895

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7765/9781526132901

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Primary school teachers, gender and concepts of childhood

Primary school teachers, gender and concepts of childhood

(p.138) 5 Primary school teachers, gender and concepts of childhood
A Progressive Education?

Laura Tisdall

Manchester University Press

This chapter firstly considers how gender shaped female teachers’ experiences in the primary school classroom. It suggests that progressive education was itself gendered feminine, due to its association with infant and primary schools and the ‘mothering’ role of the teacher. It moves on to discuss the gendering of female children and adolescents, and how child-centred education reconfirmed old stereotypes in new psychological language. Moreover, it argues, girls might be classified as inadequate children under progressive regimes, because the norms for what it meant to be a ‘good girl’ were in direct conflict with the norms for a ‘good child’ or a ‘good adolescent’. Although the theoretical image of the primary school child remained ungendered – becoming a fully gendered being meant that you were getting closer to adulthood – gendered ideas shaped the education of both boys and girls in practice.

Keywords:   Gender, Primary school, Child-centred, Girls, Teachers

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