Blue vs. Pink: Promoting Gender Equality through Contemporary Works for Elementary Students
Brazeau, Melissa C.
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The following qualitative research study examines how an art educator engages students in elementary school with contemporary art, related to gender, in order to foster understandings of gender and social justice. The literature review discusses factors that influence gender perception and encourages social justice education using dialogue. The researcher interviews two participants in fourth grade with the pseudonyms Wonder Woman and Superman. Contemporary art introduces and examines participants’ experiences with gender and social justice. The researcher records, transcribes, codes, and analyzes the interview using the constant comparative method. Results of the study pertain to social justice, Louise Nevelson, and gender. The interview discusses gender, however, it is not the only social justice issue exposed. Viewing results as a whole emphasizes the importance of having a dialogue with students. The importance of dialogue is consistent with the literature review. Dialogue is a tool to teach social justice and reveal the social justice issues that students face in their lives. Teaching big ideas like social justice can prepare students for the 21st century. Study results could encourage art educators and the field of art education to incorporate a meaningful dialogue into the curriculum to teach social justice. A meaningful dialogue can let an educator discover and teach the social justice issues most important for the school’s population. Art educators should also use unique, diverse, contemporary artists to inspire students to learn about social justice issues. Keywords: elementary school, big ideas, contemporary art, dialogue, gender, Louise Nevelson, social justice
This research aimed to understand students’ views on gender through viewing contemporary art with fourth grade students in Dudley Elementary School in Dudley, MA. By discussing students’ stories and experiences with gender, in relation to contemporary art, the researcher hoped to have students deepen their understanding of gender and social justice.