Considering Stereotypes: The Gender/Digital Life Resource

My class is in the midst of creating a travel brochure for an imaginary world. The theme and idea could be just about anything, but the teaching has been around reading informational text (real travel brochures, the genre of information text) and then creating a fictional brochure with the same elements (plus, we tie it into the theme of Peace as part of our school’s affiliation with Peacebuilders.)

Yesterday, a girl came up to me, sharing her rough draft work with me. Her map showed  a circular planet, divided in half by a roller coaster (a lot of them have echoes of theme parks, probably because we used Disney and other parks’ travel brochures for our initial investigation into the format). There were a bunch of symbols on the top and another bunch on the bottom. I squinted to see what they were. She asked me, “Which side of the planet do you think is the girls and which is the boys?”

It took me a minute to realize that she was creating a space for girls and a space for boys, and the symbols represented stereotypes of the gender (tiaras and dancing shoes for the girls, for example, and a game system and a football for the boys.) I used the opportunity to talk to her about stereotypes, but she just shook me off, and continued her journey around the room, polling kids on what symbols should be where on her map to represent boys and girls. I’ll be revisiting that issue later, maybe as a whole class discussions.

So, this morning, I was pleased to see this: CommonSense Media just released what looks like an interesting set of free lesson plans and resources built around gender identity and stereotypes related to the digital world, particularly around media and advertising. I do some of this during our Digital Life unit, but not enough. I’m going to use some of the ideas here to strengthen those discussions this year.

The resource is called Girls, Boys and Media: A Gender and Digital Life Toolkit

It’s worth a look. I’ll be digging into it.

Peace (in staying openminded),



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