Alright, time to dive deeper into the two trends Andrea and I are focussing on: gender equality and gamification in the classroom.
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“Education plays an important role in ensuring that women and men have the same opportunities in their personal and professional lives, through formal schooling, shaping attitudes and transforming behaviours” (OECD, n.d., para. 1).
Unfortunately, I learned about professional gender inequality when I was 16 and discovered that I was making less money than my younger, inexperienced, male counterpart. I was told that is just the way it is. Well that answer was not good enough for me so I approached my boss with a list of reasons outlining why I deserved more money and I was eventually granted the same salary as my male counterpart (not the salary that I actually deserved mind you).
This article indicates that inequalities are not part of who we are, they are taught to us through society and the perceived roles that men and women should perform.
“Flabbi and Tejada (2012) find that gender differences in field of study are not strongly related to expectations about labour market outcomes, as measure by wages and occupational segregation. They argue that girls and boys make different choices for a number of reasons, such as the historical predominance of men in manual occupations, potentially innate preferences, thinking of future family obligations, as well as stereotypical expectations at home and amongst peers and teachers.” (OECD, 2015 p. 8)
As you are aware, I am a female sailing instructor. Sailing is predominantly a male-dominated sport. I have been to yacht clubs that still have separate male and female entrances or rooms that are for the “men of the club” only. Interestingly, I have never viewed this as a personal attack. I have always thought it was “interesting” and that it then became a challenge for me to break through the gender barriers. So far I have managed to do so quite successfully and I am proud of my sailing achievements and my instructional abilities.
Photo credit: http://www.ablesail.ca
One of my goals as an instructor is to make sailing accessible to whomever wants to try it. At the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, where I coached in 1997, I even went so far as to re-rig an entire boat for a little boy who had no hands and no feet as I was determined to have him experience the thrill of sailing on his own. I still have his personal thank you note in my drawer as a reminder that anyone can do anything with the right amount of help.
A big area of discussion for Andrea and I was the use of gender-neutral language. The definition of “gender” seems to be evolving on a daily basis. It used to just include male or female sex. However, now there are over 30 different names for people who identify themselves in different ways2. Andrea and I spent a lot of time discussing the different gender identities that we may encounter throughout our teaching and noted that we must keep our teaching language as neutral as possible.
My article notes that “Performance differences are driven by the fact that schools and societies foster different levels of self-confidence, motivation and interests for different subject areas among boys and girls […] these stereotypical differences can be overcome” (OECD, 2015). A way to overcome these stereotypical differences is to change our language. A big area for me to work on is ensuring that my courses are gender neutral and that the language that I use is also gender neutral. Now, if you have ever sailed before you know that sailing has a language of its own, so this part should not be too hard for me! However, ensuring that my students have equal opportunities to perform equal tasks (raising sails, weighing anchor, helming, navigating), can sometimes be tricky depending on my crew. This is especially a tricky area when I have a couple on board as they tend to gravitate towards their traditional spousal roles (the wife will make lunches in the galley while the husband helms and manages the sails). This may be the best division of labour on the boat, but I always make sure each person is adequately trained in every aspect of sailing a boat. You never know who may fall overboard!
Andrea shared with me an evaluation tool (questionnaire) where a teacher can check to see if their course is gender neutral (http://www.unifr.ch/didactic/assets/files/didactic/Eval_course_gender_en.pdf). As I work my way through the PIDP I plan to use this tool to make sure that my sailing courses remain gender neutral and accessible to all.
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I have been really intrigued about gamification and how to apply it to my sailing courses. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of apps or games out there designed specifically for sailing. Since reading this article I have managed to find a couple, however they are quite basic and I’m not sure I would recommend them to my students for learning.
However, I think there is definitely a way that I can include some form of gamification in my classroom. The idea of a jeopardy game is always a good way to go. Most students really enjoy this format and I could easily break down my lessons into different pieces (sailing terms, navigational aids, emergency situations, etc.).
I am glad that Andrea chose this trend as I think it is one that many teachers need to be aware of as it is not going anywhere anytime soon! In fact, the use of virtual reality and simulators would be ideal for sailing students and I could see this type of instruction taking off in the near future (such as with pilots).
Overall, there is a need for me to stay abreast of the changes in these two trends in adult education. As noted above, gender equality seems to be changing on a daily basis. Similarly, technology is an ever-evolving field as well. As I move through improving my teaching strategies I intend to stay well versed in any changes in these trends.
OECD (n.d.) Trends Shaping Education 2015 Spotlight 7, OECD Publishing. Retrieved from: http://www.oecd.org/edu/ceri/Spotlight7-GenderEquality.pdf
- Comprehensive List of LGBTQ+ Vocabulary Definitions. Retrieved from: