Music is the strongest form of magic- Marilyn Manson
This chapter is a review of the literature and research relating to the attitudes of children to music, generally and specifically to singing. The attitudes of pupils’ teachers and parents can influence music education positively or negatively. Throughout this review we will analyse data research and literature that has taken place previously to provide us with a backdrop to support our hypothesis and our upcoming research on the topic.
2.1 Origins and Conceptualisations of Gender Roles
In recent years much more interest has been shown by researchers in regards masculinities, gender roles and attitudes in boys and men. In the last decade researchers such as JS Hyde, Joscha Legewiea, Thomas A. DiPrete and many more have been involved in studies based on young boys and the education sector. Most of this research has been surrounding academic achievement between young boys and young girls in the primary school setting and the comparison in achievement levels between the two sexes.
The terminology Gender role can be described as the ideologies and habits that society has created. The general consensus of the public is that masculinity is showcased through activities that are related to features like control and strength while women and femininity are more concerned with a soft and caring nature.
From the minute we come into this world we are categorized by our gender. This is called gender socialization. There are four important agents that affect socialization. These include the education system and teachers, your family, our friends and peers, and the mass media. These agents are what control our view of gender roles and further support the idea of what is right and wrong socially. Each agent emphasises gender roles by engineering and upholding expectations for gender-specific behaviours. Because of these agents’ people believe that they are acting normally. More often than not they don’t even realise that they are conforming to a role that society has created.
The attitudes surrounding gender roles are generally constructed by stereotypes. These stereotypes do not have any natural gender differences. Stereotypes are a mere construct of society that portrays an ideal perception of the socially correct traits and behaviours of a certain sex.
The term Gender, “refers to social or cultural distinctions associated with a given sex. When babies are born, they are assigned a gender based on their biological sex—male babies are assigned as boys, female babies are assigned as girls”. (Gender and Sociology, 2016)
Gender is a social construct. These traits that are linked to certain sexes are generated by the society we are immersed in and the cultural beliefs of this society. From the minute the sex of a child is known, children are socialized to conform to that sex and gender. Take for example, as soon as a baby boy is born they are dressed in blue and a baby girl is dressed in pink. These coloured links were not always in existence. It was not until the 2000’s that this became a societal norm and that these gender colours became apparent.
It is during the socialization process, that children observe and begin to abide by certain roles and activities that are stereotypically linked to their biological sex. From a young age children learn the gender based expectations they are assigned according to their sex. ‘’Cross-cultural studies reveal that children are aware of gender roles by age two or three; at four or five, most children are firmly entrenched in culturally appropriate gender roles ‘’ (Kane, 1996).
To be creative one has to dare to be different. Research findings by Nicols-Pulsifer (1963) and Kincaid (1964) indicate that there is a drop off in creativity at around 5 years of age. However, this research indicated that this drop in creativity is not a natural developmental change but one that occurs because of the constraints of our society. It is defined as “a sharp
man-made change which impels him by rules and regulations”. (Nichols-Pulsifer, 1963) Research in the U.S. by Torrance& Myers (1971), also reveals that children of 9 years of age are greatly affected by conformity to peer pressure and gender roles and as a consequence loose many of their creative abilities such as singing. When they move onto High School they are even more obsessed with conformity and their thinking becomes more generic and safe.
Research has also provided data that indicated that most children willingly decide to play with toys which are gender appropriate even if a choice is given to them to play with any toys. This research illustrated that this was as a result of parents praising girls children for gender-normative behaviour such as girls playing with dolls and boys laying with cars.
The importance to abide by certain masculine and feminine gender roles always remains, even once our full adult development is complete. Later in life men follow into masculine professions that involve the sciences or even physical strength, these might include engineering or trades such as building, carpentry. Women on the other side are prone to following a profession of a nurturing and loving nature such as nursing or teaching. The adherence to gender roles through professions indicated that social perceptions and expectations take preference to what makes us happy. We gain a sense of self-fulfillment by following societal expectations.
Gender roles can be attributed to the behaviour of an individual. These gender roles can also be the reason that many people can’t express themselves. Gender roles dictate the way people should act and therefore controls their acceptance in society.
Gender roles can also create a stigma surrounding certain activities and sexual orientation. Many people can suffer from mockery, bullying, physical harm, depression and much more if they do not conform to the gender norms of society. Although it is somewhat acceptable for females to involve themselves in certain masculine characteristics without feeling out of place, it is highly unlikely that men are able to involve themselves in non-hegemonic masculinities without the risk of repercussions.
The education field is a hive for stereotypical gender roles. Children at school level are most prone to following gender roles as they don’t want to be seen as different. They want to be accepted in the school environment. In the past, schools were an environment whereby both boys and girls were divided and stratified. This stratification could be in the form of gendered subject choices such as home-economics for girls and applied mathematics for boys. Segregation was also present in the school environment, even in play, boys would be allowed to go onto the football field and girls were to stay on the yard and play catch or skip. Boys were encouraged to get involved in the more active and aggressive play such as sport.
Studies demonstrated data that would imply that gender socialization is still present in schools today, however perhaps in less obvious forms due to gender equality being a major issue in recent years (Lips 2004).
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