Gender and Adolescent Culture

According to Eder’s opinion, school-based, structured, extracurricular activity participation enhances positive adolescent developmental outcomes. These include higher academic performance and attainment as well as reduced rates of dropout. They may also lower rates of substance use, reduced rate of delinquent behavior, and less sexual activity among girls. However, the most significant outcome is the development of a better psychological adjustment. Thus, students develop higher self-esteem, have less worries  about future or feelings of social isolation (Holmberg, 2012). In the sixth grade, I was engaged in several school extracurricular activities that helped me to deal with shyness. The effect was tremendous and acceptance into many social groups became overwhelming unlike initial feeling of isolation and incapability.

This experience in the sixth grade agrees with Eder’s findings as discussed below. Indeed, there are several instances where many students in the middle school face myriad of challenges. The need for establishing a school structure that offers a conducive environment for holistic development requires no less emphasis. However, the associations of extracurricular activity participation with these outcomes vary according to many factors. These factors mediate or moderate the effects of activity participation on adolescent development. These factors consist of peer associations, race, type of activity, and identity (Holmberg, 2012). They form the key basis for determining whether the outcomes will be positive or negative. These factors, however, do not represent an exhaustive list of identified mediators and moderators. In addition, there are continuity in participation and total number of activities.

Not all extracurricular activities share the same characteristics. Activities such as sports, cheerleading, and debate involve close supervision by a coach or sponsor. They take place several times a week, involve competition, and usually comprise a consistent group of students. In contrast, activities such as foreign language clubs, math, and history clubs typically comprise large student groups with higher turnover rates. The latter activities take place less often and involve less contact with the sponsor (Ryle, 2012). Therefore, the school structure should take into account such qualitative differences between activities in order to facilitate student development.

 Grouping qualitatively different activities or simply totaling the number of activities in which an adolescent participates may lead to different rates of visibility and popularity (Holmberg, 2012). In line with Eder’s suggestions, examining the outcomes of each activity, policy makers should group activities based on their development outcomes. This must also apply to assessing whether one activity is qualitatively different from another (Eder, 1995). This is in contrast to the conceptual similarities that many schools adopt. It is crucial to examine contextual factors in order to determine the true influence of school-based extracurricular activity participation on adolescent development. This observation should then proceed into adulthood.

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In order to ascertain true effects, schools need to measure several parameters. Following the commencement of an activity, it is vital to consider a person’s position on team or in club. Moreover, take note of how often the team holds its activity and the number of students involved. In order to acquire accurate results the researchers should also identify team leaders and their performance in the activity (Eder, 1995). Another principal factor is the student’s perception of the personal importance of the activity. Information regarding the child’s participation in activities outside of the school context is also critical. This will shed more light on who participates in school-based activities, whether these activities are beneficial, and the mechanisms through which they exert influence.

The school structure should also consider the contribution of parents in order realize meaningful development. This is explained by the fact that they represent another mechanism of selection into activity participation. Parents’ own involvement in community activities is a strong predictor of their adolescents’ involvement in school- or community-based extracurricular activities. Thus, parental values, and not the activities themselves, may be shaping pro-social behavior among adolescents (Ryle, 2012). This implies that these two entities must work together to make opportunities more accessible to children through a better awareness of these participation opportunities.

In fact, parental endorsement of participation seems to increase adolescent school extracurricular activity participation. Activity participation may be an opportunity for parents and adolescents to share their lives and stay connected (Holmberg, 2012). However, this same parental involvement in their activities may cause children to abandon these activities. For instance, parents play a significant role in socializing their children’s athletic motivation. When parents have high perceptions of their children’s athletic ability early on, children feel better about their competencies. This, in turn, influences how they approach future sport situations.

Nevertheless, parental involvement in organized sports programs can negatively affect family relationships and the psychological well-being of children. This may arise when parents depend on continued involvement in sport or on the quality of children’s athletic performance (Holmberg, 2012). Therefore, when parents focus too much on their performance, those children that are not doing well in sports are likely to lose interest in continued sports participation.

Effects of Speech Routines

Speech routines form a critical basis for evaluating the development of gender stereotypes and inequalities in the school environment. In most instances, the young people tend to emulate their adult counterparts in the society. School is a vital component of any society. In fact, the school is the pillar upon which the society builds its future generation. This implies that it is the best institution for nurturing people from childhood to adulthood. From this perspective, a fundamental principal emerges. There is a need to develop proper educational policies that will enhance positive development of the learners (Eder, 1995). Thus, the entire society has an obligation to ensure that their children not only grow intellectually, but also experience positive sociological growth.

The school is a reflection of what the real society. Many students hail from families with different moral values, economic status, and religious beliefs (Ryle, 2012).  At adolescent stage, many children do not have their own principles. They tend to imitate behavior of adults. As a result, the issue of gender stereotypes and inequality propagates in lower schools and middle schools. The use of improper language against one gender, insults, gossiping, and collaborative storytelling form the foundation for determining the future of the gender dimension in the society (Holmberg, 2012).

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In the middle school, I once had an experience that adversely affected my perspective of gender in the school environment as well as the community at large. During one of the extra curriculum activities at school, there was a group of notorious male seventh graders. They hurled insults at a female colleague for no apparent reasons. In fact, they called her a ‘bitch.’ The female colleague did not seem to bother much about this name-calling. In a way, she appeared to consider it a normal situation. Further discussion with her revealed that she believed that the society accepted this situation.

Speech routines among students in the middle school have enormous effects on a person’s development. For instance, sexism continues to develop in many schools. In addition to exceptional incidents, sexism entails mundane practices that people encounter as they interact in the society. Internalized sexism is common among females that they enact upon themselves on a daily basis. This results in the enactment of various sexist behaviors. Dialogue among female students seems to embrace this internalized sexism.

There are four categories of internalized sexism. These include those who believe that they are powerless to change anything about their social labels.  This category asserts incompetence. The other categories consist of competition among women, invalidation of women, and the perception of women as objects. Women tend to engage in mundane dialogues frequently, which make internalized sexism a routine social practice (Holmberg, 2012). It is paramount that the school system understands the aspects of sexism that young students may internalize as they engage in mundane dialogic practices. This will enable the institution to understand the influence of sexism in daily experiences as well as seek appropriate intervention measures to curb this generative process.

Many people seem to identify women with regard to their physical appearance instead of their behaviors or relationships. For example, diminutive terms like ‘chick’ and ‘bitch’ are common among students in the middle school. The term ‘chick’ simply strengthens a mild objectification that reduces a woman to the color of her hair. On the other hand, the term ‘bitch’ usually finds use as a form of insult against women for being vocal or assertive. This term is a form of sexist invalidation that is against the norms of women (Ryle, 2012). Therefore, the female students in middle school experience a myriad of challenges in order to fit into the standards the society expects of her. Furthermore, there is immense influence of words, such as ‘shut up’ whenever students engage in various speech routines. The society apparently expects a woman to have a gender role of ‘shutting up’, which explains the reason why most women accept this as a normative position. There are many other examples that demonstrate common conversational practices of objectification and invalidation that female students encounter in schools.

These views coincide with those of Eber as expressed in her book. In her opinion, she notices that boys develop sexual orientations principally for sexuality in adolescence. They do not possess any affectionate or romantic feelings to their female colleagues. Furthermore, boys have less stereotypical notions, unlike girls (Ryle, 2012). In her findings, Eber notices that boys shape their sexuality perceptions through daily conversations. At the beginning of adolescence, boys portray non-aggressive sexual orientation in their social context. However, many of them become aggressive when others challenge their sexuality.

Sexual teasing is another common practice among students. It defines masculinity in many boys. The society seems to nurture the boy-child to control his emotions during insulting encounters. Nevertheless, most of them cannot withstand sexual teasing. Their responses are usually aggressive and aim at showing their prowess (Eder, 1995). Boys seem to take sexual teasing lightly, and they are vulgar. This stance has severe effects on many girls who are more emotional to such teases while boys view them as a necessity to strengthen their male bonds. These lewd comments portray women as mere objects to meet male desires and aggression (Holmberg, 2012).

It is clear that collaborative activities and storytelling foster gender stereotypes and inequality. Many boys and girls use these speech routines to challenge traditional sexuality. Girls also seem to insult boys with respect to their sexuality, which further reinforce boys’ perspectives on heterosexuality. In several storytelling events, students tend to discuss movies and other sexual scripts. The materials promote less contact among boys and girls as well as encourage a culture of sexual aggression (Ryle, 2012). The spread of gender stereotypes and inequality is rapid in modern society due to technological advancement. Social networks such as Facebook and MySpace enable young people to interact more efficiently. This implies that there is a wider scope of sexual perceptions. As a result, boys tend to perceive themselves as sole sexual actors and give girls a passive role. Therefore, both girls and boys have immense contribution to maintenance of societal beliefs on heterosexual relationships.

Anywhere but Here and From Nerds to Normals

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The film Anywhere but Here shows one of the influences that the society has on childhood development. This film refers to a book by Mona Simpson that bears the same name. Adele is too ambitious and has high expectations of her daughter, Ann. In the film, these two women travel through the landscape of their ambitions that are usually in conflict. The actors portray the perennial urge to keep moving even at the risk of profound disorientation. One of the outstanding scenes in this film is the point where the mother decided to assist her daughter in realizing her dream. This scene is in the agreement with Kinney’s view on the development of students from “nerds to normal.”

In his opinion, Kinney   asserts that, at the middle school and lower levels, young people tend to rely on others opinions of themselves. Consequently, most children try to conform themselves into what the society expects them to become. However, the key challenge is that the society fails to provide a wide pool of choice. Instead, it gives them two choices (Ryle, 2012). Thus, as a young person, one can only fit in one or the other. An individual is either a despised nerd or a trendy person that drew massive support and popularity. Unfortunately, this categorization fails to take into account the fact that people possess relative skills. For complete development, there is a need to provide a variety of opportunities in order to enhance the development of high personal esteem among young people (Kinney, 1993).

In the film, the mother seems to be overzealous about her dreams and desires. At her daughter’s tender age, the mother could impose her opinions to her daughter. She was able to define what her daughter ought to become. In this way, Ann did not have much choice, but to see her world through the eyes of her mother. However, as she progressed in school, she began to form a new perspective of her world. The various social experiences at school enable her to develop self-perception over time. The consequences of this maturity in mind are dire. She got into a collision path with her mother’s opinions and expectations. This sense of self-awareness facilitates her pursuit for higher education rather than become an actress. It is evident that at the moment when an individual develops a high esteem, the perception of success also changes.

The significance of providing opportunities that foster positive social changes and individual developments need no less emphasis. Daily social, interactive activities determine the degree to which young people gain control over their lives (Kinney, 1993). The paradigm shift that nerds undergo in high school emerges from the availability of new activities that were not there in the middle school. They develop a new sense of what is trendy through their interpersonal interactions. As Kinney cites, these self presentation techniques that high school provides encourage students with low esteem to review what others think of them. They become able to gain massive control of themselves as well as adapt socially to the immediate world around them. This gain of identity propelled Ann to pursue her goals despite her mother’s conflicting interest.

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