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Gender Play: Girls and Boys in School [Kindle Edition]

Barrie Thorne
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Thorne, a professor of sociology at the University of Southern California, offers her insightful observations of elementary school students in class and at play. Though, as she admits, her status as an adult and an observer may have affected what happened around her, Thorne presents a fascinating account of how children divide themselves--and how others divide them--along gender lines. Breaking students into teams for contests and the eternal game of "cooties" (a contamination attributed more often to girls than boys) reveal much about the microcosm that these students inhabit, and an extensive look at the tomboy, both in literature and in life, compares her ambiguity (sometimes an insult, sometimes a compliment) to the negative attitudes often elicited by gender-crossing in the other direction. Thorne argues convincingly against the theories of scholars like Deborah Tannen and Carol Gilligan that boys and girls have different "cultures," and she attempts to discourage "gender antagonism." A final section offers concrete steps for teachers to take in forming the attitudes--about gender and other topics--of coming generations.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Thorne, a professor of sociology at the University of Southern California, offers her insightful observations of elementary school students in class and at play. Though, as she admits, her status as an adult and an observer may have affected what happened around her, Thorne presents a fascinating account of how children divide themselves--and how others divide them--along gender lines. Breaking students into teams for contests and the eternal game of "cooties" (a contamination attributed more often to girls than boys) reveal much about the microcosm that these students inhabit, and an extensive look at the tomboy, both in literature and in life, compares her ambiguity (sometimes an insult, sometimes a compliment) to the negative attitudes often elicited by gender-crossing in the other direction. Thorne argues convincingly against the theories of scholars like Deborah Tannen and Carol Gilligan that boys and girls have different "cultures," and she attempts to discourage "gender antagonism." A final section offers concrete steps for teachers to take in forming the attitudes--about gender and other topics--of coming generations.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Thorne, well known among educational psychologists for her work in gender studies, presents her findings on gender roles among children and teenagers in school. Using a three-step approach, she describes recent findings in the field, presents her own findings, and then examines the correlations and discrepancies. In her thoughtful interpretation of these findings, Thorne makes a significant contribution. Her study is important not just for her insight into gender but for her explanation of how research itself operates within conventions and traditions. Recognizing that the way students are grouped and segregated is an increasingly important issue in classroom and school management. Thorne suggests a new paradigm for examining how psychologists and teachers deal with gender. Her study is well documented, with meticulous notes and a comprehensive bibliography. For academic and large public libraries.
- Nancy E. Zuwiyya, Binghamton City Sch. Dist., N.Y.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 4871 KB
  • Print Length: 237 pages
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press (February 28, 1993)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000RNBGGW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #484,968 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
(6)
3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful work, with flaws March 9, 2006
Format:Paperback
Thorne's sociological examination of gender in Gender Play is very thoughtful. She demonstrates a very sophisticated understanding of gender dynamics, and even more importantly, what are NOT gender dynamics. Moving smoothly between her own qualitative research in two elementary classrooms and the larger body of feminist scholarship on gender, Gender Play is nuanced and thought-provoking.

Thorne challenges commonsense notions of gender on institutional and individual levels. She correctly points out the constructedness of gender roles, and penetratingly considers the role all of us play in the construction of gender and the alienation of the genders from one another. She also explodes several widely-held myths about gender and gendered behavior. A compelling read.

One flaw mars an otherwise impressive analysis. In a work characterized by intensive examination of the assumptions that have guided gender analysis, Thorne is not always conscious of her own theoretical biases. She perceptively identifies the tendency to dichotomize and oversimplify in most analyses of gender, but sometimes seems unaware of the effect her own theoretical and philosophical frames have on her analysis.

As an educator, I also found her emphasis on the sociology of the classroom and the school without attention to the educational aspects of that sociological milieu limiting. I felt that her conclusions and arguments would have benefited greatly from a reading of the educational literature, much of which buttresses her conclusions, but was not considered in her analysis.

Overall, I found this a thought-provoking and well-considered work. Educators and sociologists alike will benefit from a more careful analysis of the stereotypes and beliefs we validate when we type by gender.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good info March 25, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I thought the information was worthwhile--the author did a lot of work. Great index which helped me in my research.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As vital as ever! October 1, 1999
Format:Paperback
Thorne shows us how children learn & utilize gender through how and what they play in the school setting. I was delighted to see that children today still engage in the "cooties" game....that's something that MY generation played in the late 60's! I felt Thorne was right on target with what she saw and how she perceived it! Every educator, parent or anybody interested in how children perceive gender should read this book!
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