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The Female Sex in English Textbook “Marigold” for First Standard Students of CBSC Syllabus
Dr. B.V.RamaPrasad Associate Professor Department of Postgraduate Studies in English Kuvempu University Shankaraghatta Shivamogga
The aim of this paper is to analyze the English textbook ‘Marigold’ (MG) for 1st standard students prepared by NCERT. The paper tries to examine whether gender bias exists in the textbook. The paper first places the textbook in the context of policies related to the curriculum by NCERT as outlined in National Curriculum Framework 2005(NCF 05). Then it explains the criteria used to examine the gender bias in MG, and proceeds to analyze MG. To begin with, however, we should remember that textbooks are only one of the means through which gender stereotyping is done in the classrooms. The wider curriculum, the classroom atmosphere, the actual activities assigned by the teacher in the classroom, the uniforms prescribed, etc play a role in the construction of gender. However, by looking at the textbooks and modifying them to accommodate concerns about gender stereotyping, some step towards achieving gender equality can be taken. (See Blumberg, 4) At the top of the tree, we have the policy makers, and at the bottom of the tree we have the teachers who teach in the class room. In between, we have the textbook committee. The policymakers have tried to include the issues of gender in the National
gender. For example. Kenyan & Fakhar-ud-din. Keeping in mind the length of this paper. gender does not find a place in the aims of English Language Education (see appendix 1. “Gender justice … must inform all sectors of the social sciences” (ix). See. “The proposed syllabus tends to integrate the concerns related to environment. However. The paper has drawn insights from some other works done in this area (Blumberg. peace. Voices of women in all their glory need to find a prominent place in our textbooks and teaching strategies” (5). nor are gender issues included in aims and objectives or in attitudes to be nurtured (see 5-8. we must make every effort to eliminate gendered construction of knowledge” (60). But “The Position Paper of National Focus Group on Gender Issues in Education” makes strong recommendations about gender issues in Language classrooms (67-71). we will be able to use only some of the criteria used by the above works. work and arts” (v). and 60-62). We will now deal with the methods used in this paper to analyze the textbook MG. “It is extremely important that textbook writers and teachers begin to appreciate that the passive and deferential roles generally assigned to women are socio-culturally constructed and need to be destroyed as quickly as possible. pg 127). 2006) also incorporates gender issues. health. Language. 2005. summary. We will analyze the textbook in terms of- .2 Curriculum Framework. “If we wish that our dream of a democratic society should become a reality. “… specific measures are needed to inculcate greater selfawareness among boys regarding their behaviour towards girls” (103). Bahuruddin et all). Though here again there are no specific suggestions to the textbook writers. for example. The syllabus framework (NCERT. though there are no specific recommendations regarding textbook content.
Let us first look at the number of boys and girls as characters in the lessons. In terms of the activities also we do not find gender bias. The role (active/passive)and the locale (indoor. each comprising of two lessons. We may say here that boys are at a disadvantage because only two boys are actually doing something whereas four are in a . Among four girls. watching a bird. we have drying one self after the bath. outdoor) of the boys and the girls in the illustrations The analysis of the lessons The textbook contains ten units. The number of male and female species of animals in the lessons c. In terms of locale.3 a. Out of the ten child characters in the lessons. two are outdoor. going in merry-go-round. Among the girls. and watching superman. outdoor) of the boys and the girls in the lessons d. watching a rainbow and painting it: among boys. six are boys and four are girls. either prose or poetry. The number of ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ characters in the illustrations e. Here again there does not seem to visible gender bias. one indoor. making a kite. and one moves from indoor to outdoor. out of six boys three are indoor. sitting below a tree. This 60-40 percentage need not be treated as evidence of gender bias as ten is a very small number to make judgment and the difference would have been significant if it was like 80-20. The role (active/passive)and the locale (indoor. learning to draw. The number of ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ characters in the lessons b. we have swinging. two outdoor and one boy moves from indoor to outdoor.
Of the fourteen animal characters used. (unit 5. where father. However. The activities of the children also show a similar pattern.4 passive role (for the purposes of this paper let us assume that sitting and thinking is a passive activity!). There is an absence of the ‘domestic’ in these lessons. we should notice one significant thing here. a girl learning to draw from grandmother). Our Tree. Even when the children are in the house. Once a child is shown with a family member. two sons and a daughter are eating mango). all other activities can be described as recreational activities. Even a non-animate character like the straw is masculine. where as all the four girls are actively doing something. and there is one lesson in which all the family members are sitting (unit 6. and the activities like ‘nurturing’ associated with women may become neglected and the so called masculine spaces and activities may dominate the content of the textbook. Out of eleven lessons with child characters. Circle. twelve are male with the pronoun ‘he’ used with them. Only a turtle and a mosquito are unspecified for gender. the traditional unmarking for the masculine is evident. the traditional fields of the ‘home’. There are no community activities and no domestic activities. one shows a child watching the superman and only two have families in them. eight show children being on their own. there is an absence of the family. where as a beautiful kite that a boy is making is referred to as she! Thus no conscious effort is made to change the stories to address gender issues. Except for one activity where a boy dries himself after the bath. . This probably reflects one of the dangers when we try to include more women in public spaces in the textbooks. In terms of the animal characters used in the textbook. mother.
in unit one. forty three are boys and twenty eight girls. with the percentage 19-81 in favour of the outdoor. Out of the 31 activities that could be specified as active or passive for the boys. seven were indoor and 29 outdoor. the illustrations accompanying the exercises. we have instructions like ‘Let’s Read’. This percentage of 61-39 in favour of boys is significant because we are dealing with a bigger number here. But with respect to activities. For example. The side pictures accompanying instructions for the exercises also show a gender bias. boys seem to have more active roles compared to girls. seven are boys. In terms of the locale we again see the dominance of the outer space. 24 were active and 7 passive. We will only look at those illustrations where the choice is independent of the content. three were indoor and 19 outdoor with a percentage of 14-86 in favour of the outdoor.e. i. Of the 18 . In terms of the characters in all illustrations. and the side pictures next to the instructions in the exercises.5 The Illustrations In illustrations accompanying the lessons we will look at illustrations for the lessons. we will ignore the illustration of the boy because that is specified by the lesson itself. if a lesson has a boy as character. with a percentage of 77-23 in favour of the active. Out of the nine pictures accompanying these instructions. For girls. lesson ‘Three Little Pigs’. one a girl and in one case it is difficult to specify. ‘Say Aloud’ etc. in 22 cases where locale could be specified. We will ignore all illustrations that are limited by the content of the lesson. The very noticeable thing about the illustrations is that all the pictures accompanying instruction for teacher have female teachers. For boys in 36 cases where the locale could be specified.
only six were active and 12 passive. one-that of the astronaut. the boy is flying a kite and the girl is helping with the thread.6 activities for girls. but there are no girl specific items. Thus there seems to be gender bias in illustrations. a dentist or an artist can not be illustrated with female characters. The animal characters tend to be male by an overwhelming percentage. the girl receives it from her mother.are shown as women. Similarly on page 17. Some typical illustrations where boys and girls are together show the girl in a secondary position. There are some particular cases of obvious gender bias. To conclude. boys outnumber the girls by 5-2 (55). seven are illustrated with male figures. the boy has climbed the tree and the girl is receiving the fruits.is unspecified. The number and the role of characters in the lessons do not show gender bias. with a percentage of 33-67 in favour of the passive. but no skirt. we have the question ‘Do you wear these things?’ and all the items shown can be worn by either a boy or a girl. In the illustrations. There is no reason why a farmer. a list of professions is given. In page 112. there is an obvious gender bias both in terms of the role and the number of boys and girls. and two-a doctor and a teacher. On a merry-go-round. . the textbook MG shows some awareness of gender issues. We have a shirt. though there is a neglect of the ‘domestic’. Among the 10 professions. the boys outnumber the girls by 6-3 (54). The boy takes the fruit from the basket. In a fair.
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