Publication 5525

Gash H. (1993) Stereotyping and constructivism: Learning to be men and women. Cybernetics and Human Knowing 1(4): 43–50. Fulltext at https://cepa.info/5525
In this paper Bateson’s (1972) ideas on levels of learning are used to analyze processes involved in learning gender stereotypes. In his theory there is a distinction between learning a behaviour (level one) and learning that a behaviour is stereotyped (level two). Such classification of behaviour occurs in social contexts, a fact which contributes to our understanding of both their role in identity and their resistance to change. Third level learning, which may be needed to change stereotypes learned under level two processes, reduces conflict between different stereotypes but at the cost of change in an individual’s identity. Misdirected attempts to promote level three learning may be counterproductive if the challenge to identity is threatening. Questioning or counterexamples which allow re-consideration of stereotypes, or activities which make caricatures out of the stereotypes, are offered as ways of promoting change which are not threatening by being respectful of the learner’s identity.

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