Role call

Jan. 24, 2020 | Our Form VI students have been challenging the narrative this week as they discuss gender roles in children's literature.

Mr. St-Amant's IB Psychology class held their second day of presentations this morning to learn about how children's books through history have promoted gender-related enculturation. In small groups, the students sought to identify whether literature for today's youth "serves as a way of teaching children about appropriate gender behaviour." Raiding our library's recently remodelled kids' section, the students analyzed themes and illustrations that might reinforce gender stereotypes. Ms. Rommens' IB Social and Cultural Anthropology students joined in on the talks to add to the conversation from a perspective of social and cultural development. The speakers discussed the perpetuation of gendered clothing and hairstyles along with character tropes such as the damsel in distress, the stay-at-home mother, and the shopping-obsessed girl. In a conversation about modern books that challenge these stereotypes, Justine commented that "flipping gender roles to make a statement often just demonstrates how deeply these roles exist in society." Surprised by the prevalence of these themes in the books they analyzed, Yewon noted, "it's so normal, we don't even realize how often we reinforce gender roles."

Once all the presentations are complete, the class will be writing up a presentation to share their findings with our school's librarians. Given our library's track record of building its collection and promoting educated conversations about literature, we have no doubt their suggestions will continue to make our library a better resource for young and old!

Bishop's College School is an independent English-language boarding and day school for grades 7 to 12 in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada.