Year 10: Exploring the reasonableness of generalisations related to gender

Year 10, Semester 2 Unit: How should we live our lives?

Lesson type: Activity

Themes: Gender equality/inequality, searching for evidence, counterexamples, etc, to support claims (Social and Political Philosophy, Ethics, Logic and reasoning)

Focus inquiry/reasoning skill: Considering the strength and reasonableness of generalisations

Purpose: To examine oft-used generalisations related to gender and explore whether these point to inequities in society.

Resources needed

Lesson Outline

This session focuses on generalisations often used in our society, related to gender. We need to consider whether some of these generalisations are more warranted than others, using what we know about how to test for the strength of the generalisation. Then we switch our attention to whether or not these generalisations are warranted.

NB The main point of this session is to examine some of the generalisations and explore whether or not they are acceptable/reasonable, rather than test the strength of each. Allow plenty of time for discussion.

Preliminary activity
  1. Remind students that we make and hear generalisations all the time and we need to be on the lookout for them, as they may sometimes (but not always) be unfounded.
  2. Warm up your thinking: ‘A generalisation you often hear about males and females is…
Main activity
  1. Show stimulus:
    Ask what generalisations the stimulus suggests (girls like dolls, boys like trucks, etc)
  2. Activity
    • a. Briefly remind students of criteria for deciding the strength of generalisations.
      • The size of the sample from which we are generalising.
      • Varieties within the sample.
      • The credibility of the generalisation based on your prior knowledge.
      • Examples to support the generalisation
      • Counterexamples which may disprove the generalisation.
    • b. Procedure (NB this not the main point of the session so don’t take too much time):
      • Put the ‘very strong’ and ‘very weak’ cards on floor with a piece of string or ribbon connecting them – this becomes the continuum.
      • Give each group of three a generalisation card to discuss and decide where on the continuum of very strong to very weak that their card belongs and why.
      • The teacher should lead the process of placement of the cards. Firstly, ask for a group that thinks they have a generalisation that is very strong and reasonable. They should place their card near the ‘strong’ end, with reasons for the placement, taking into account the key conditions to be considered when generalising. (NB we are not trying to determine whether a generalisation is fair, just whether it is common, strong and widely accepted or not.)
      • Repeat the process with ‘weak’ end, then one somewhere around the middle.
      • Using these three as a baseline; one by one, groups should place their cards on the continuum, giving their reasons.
    • c. It is likely that many of the generalisations will be found to be weak, yet we hear them spoken and possibly accepted in our society.
      • Choose a couple of ‘weak’ generalisations. Explore if they are generally accepted by society. Are they reasonable?
  3. Discussion: Select question(s) that reflect the interests of your group.
    (Begin with a question from the group.)
    • Gender roles:
      • Are gender roles culturally constructed?
      • Are gender roles determined by nature?
      • Are gender roles a good thing? Why or why not?
    • Gender equality:
      • Do boys have an unfair advantage in society?
      • Should all genders have equal expectations?
      • What role do assumptions play in gender equality?
      • Is gender equality important? Why?

Because this is the last of the social justice sessions, allow time to discuss the overriding question, ‘Is social justice possible?

Teacher procedural questions (for use during the discussion)
  • Is this always true?
  • Are there any concepts here that need to be refined?
  • Can we say this about the whole group?
Student reflection (10 mins)
  1. Whole group reflection (oral):
    1. How did this activity deepen our understanding of gender equality?
    2. How did we work as a community of learners? Why do you think that?
  2. Individual reflection (written):
    • Did I contribute fairly within the COI today? How do I know that?
    • Considering the discussion today, in what main ways would my life experiences be difference if I was a different gender?
Teacher reflection
  • What was something surprising a student said?
  • What was something that worked well?
  • What is something I’d like to work on for next time?

Activity cards: Very Strong/Very Weak
Men are better leaders than women
Women are naturally more emotional than men
Girls are better at friendship than boys
The world is just as dangerous for males as it is for females
It is more acceptable for women to cry than men
Girls like to talk more than boys do
Women are better suited to stay at home to raise families than men
Girls are smarter than boys
Most CEOs are men because boys are more competitive than girls
Men are more powerful than women