Boys vs Girls

A friendly competition?

No. 

No. 

No no no no no. 

 

Boys vs girls in sports? Boys vs girls in games? Boys vs girls in math? 

No again. 

 

Here’s why:

  1. Boys vs girls contests assume there are only two genders and reinforces this idea to children. 
  2. This competition forces children to ‘choose’ which side they are on. For those cisgender students, the choice is simple. For students who are transgender, or identify with genders outside of the two given choices, this is much more complicated. Not necessarily because they are unsure of their gender, but because self-identifying in front of the entire class can be detrimental. Students may not be ready to discuss their gender identity, do not feel comfortable, fear being outed, or they may be working on discovering and understanding who they are. 
  3. Gender roles and societal expectations associated with those roles need to be demolished. Gone are the days where we should teach little girls exclusively to be caregivers while leaving the science, technology and math to the boys. Pinning ‘boys’ against ‘girls’ presents to students the idea that there should be some sort of contest, some sort of competition, rather than collaboration amongst all.

Educators who are seeking to make groups may use alternative approaches to divide their class in order to empower students and create a positive classroom environment. Here’s some ways I like to divide students into groups:

  1. By their birth month
  2. The amount of letters in their name 
  3. ‘This or That’ – ask students to decide, for example, “Do you like blue or green?”
  4. Good old fashioned randomization! Use popsicle sticks with student names, random name generators from the internet, student pictures, the list goes on. Use whatever works best for your classroom.

If you have any more thoughts or ideas on how to make non-gendered groups in the classroom, I’d love to hear from you!

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The Author

Melissa Turnbull

Enjoying the journey as an Elementary Occasional Teacher for the Lambton Kent District School Board and the Thames Valley District School Board. I am a recent graduate of a Master of Professional Education program with a focus on teaching students with exceptionalities. I am a lover of learning and have a passion for incorporating play in the classroom. Currently, I am navigating the road to becoming a permanent teacher with a sense of humour and a huge smile on my face.

1 Comment

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Melissa, I watched a young person in Grade 6 be emotionally torn apart by having a Board sponsored Track and Field event force them to declare their gender choice when they were not ready to do so publicly. It really brought home to me how important this identity is to the children that we teach. Ultimately and sadly, the person chose to stay home rather than come out to a day that is supposed to be celebratory and fun.

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