SELF-CONCEPT, SELF- ESTEEM,
IDENTITY AND GENDER
In recent literature regarding gender and identity, there has been a realisation that issues of gender are complex and that oppositional propositions such as boys versus girls are inadequate to help us explain and understand how gendered identities are developed (e.g. Arnot and Mac an Ghaill, 2006). Indeed, in our own and others' research (Rudduck and Urquhart, 2003; Reay, 2006) the main discourse among pupils concerned their identity as learners. Whilst it is not surprising that learner identity is a major discourse in any educational setting it has to be acknowledged that discourse operates at more than one level. Whilst the explicit discourse may refer to academic learning, there are sub-texts that refer to other influences or spheres of learning that can be referred to as cultural, social and emotional learning, all of which contribute to children's overall development, including gender identities.
Humes (2006, p. 8) argues that we 'validate our identity and ourplace in the world' through making sense of our experiences. Rudduck and Urquhart (2003) point out that there are a number of areas and topics of discussion that involve pupils in schools comparing their experiences with those of their peers. Naturally, these include contexts that are specific to school such as academic attainment, changing classes and making comparesons with other schools. Each of these presents an opportunity for pupils to re-conceptualise their identities as learners and to estimate their own value as learners. Consequently, learner identity tends to be the dominant identity created within schools. Indeed, Rudduck and Urquhart (2003), in their exploration of pupils' perspectives on their own identity at a stage of transition within primary school, could find no evidence of pupils dealing with transition and its surrounding issues and difficulties in any genderstereotypical ways. Instead, their participants responded to issues of difficulty as learners rather than as either boys or girls. Thus, a simple binary