A case study of learners' gender constructions in a physical sciences classroom.
MetadataShow full item record
Contemporary gender studies focus on the contexts in which particular discourses shape the construction of masculinities and femininities. With a need to understand what it means for boys and girls in particular South African classrooms to study Physical Sciences, this small-scale case study explored girls. and boys. constructions of gender through examining the researchable relations of power. Drawing on poststructuralist theories, which define power as multidimensional, and shifting, I explored how boys and girls are produced as a nexus of subjectivities. This study is located in a grade 10 Physical Sciences classroom in a school from the Umlazi Township, in Durban. Located within a poststructural feminist paradigm, I used a qualitative research methodology with case study as the method, with observations and interviews to collect the data. The analysis of the data on power relations between the learners, and between the learners and the science taught provided an insight into the performances of boys and girls and the constructions of gendering. In this study, the main constructions of gender were that of the hegemonic .Machismo Masculinity. and .Compliant/Resistant Femininity.. The discourses of power that shaped the constructions of masculinity and femininity were the learners. use of classroom space, learner interactions and their interactions with the decontextualised .masculinist. science. Here, relations of power were context dependent and constantly shifting. Without seeking generalisation, this case study concludes that contexts are critical in shaping the performances of masculinities and femininities, which in turn define the constructions of gender. This study highlights the complexity of gender studies and the need to give due consideration to how gendered selves are constituted in discursive chains especially where it intersects with discourses such as curriculum and pedagogy. Importantly, in broader terms, there is a need to deepen scientific enquiry to include the social aspects of learning, which will assist in understanding the way science is taught and learnt. Hence, gender studies should move beyond quantifying participation and performance, towards trying to understand how subjectivities create both possibilities and constraints for learners.