Behind Our Doors

Investigating Primary Education’s Evolving Identity

PhD student Pam Malins examines the extent to which primary school students are introduced to gender and sexual identity themes in the classroom.  She presents her doctoral work at Research Day, March 25, 2013.

Research Day this year features a number of presenters drawing attention to hot topics in education, including Pam Malins, a first-year PhD student from the Faculty of Education. She will present her poster “Elementary School Teachers’ Attitudes About Addressing Gender and Sexual Identities: An Investigation of ‘Childhood Innocence’.”

Pam observes that despite recent policy and curriculum changes to drive inclusiveness in schools, parents are a significant factor affecting what teachers cover (or do not cover). “If parents think these topics are okay but teachers aren’t teaching them because they believe parents don’t think they’re okay, then there’s a gap. I want to investigate whether I get themes of resistance – whether parents and teachers think children at this age are too young.”

Pam hopes her research will ultimately help reduce gender-based violence and bullying, something she believes could be tied to a lack of understanding on the part of both teachers and students. Teacher training and age-appropriate materials for primary students, for instance, might help make inclusivity the norm at an early age and curb bullying in later years. “I would love to help educators become more confident, more comfortable, and more knowledgeable,” Pam explains, “not only about gender and sexual identity topics themselves but what they’re able to cover, and how.”

Meet Pam and other Faculty of Education researchers at Research Day, March 25 from 3:30 to 5:00pm at The Great Hall in Somerville House at Western University.

For more on Research Day, visit the following website: