Sexuality, Gender and Schooling: Shifting Agendas in Social Learning

By Mary Jane Kehily | Go to book overview

Introduction

Contextualising the research and the researcher

This study aims to explore issues of sexuality, gender and schooling. I am interested in the ways in which school students interpret, negotiate and relate to issues of sexuality within the context of the secondary school. In order to explore these themes I use the concept of student sexual cultures. I understand student cultures to constitute informal groups of school students who actively ascribe meanings to events within specific social contexts. Student sexual cultures refers specifically to the meanings ascribed to issues of sexuality by students themselves within peer groups and in social interaction more generally. My argument throughout is that this process of making meaning within the immediate realm of the local produces individual and collective identities, that is to say, ways of developing a sense of self in relation to others. This process of making sense of the world within the locale of the school can be seen as an active process that carries social and psychic investments for individuals and groups. These themes are elaborated upon and explored in subsequent chapters. The study documents the ways in which issues of sexuality feature in the context of student cultures and the implications of this for sexual learning and the construction of sexual identities. I am particularly interested in the inter-relationship between gender and sexuality and how school students negotiate complex social relations in ways that can be both creative and constraining.

The study focuses upon two key areas in the field of sexuality and schooling: firstly, the shaping of pupil cultures and the construction of sexual identities; secondly, teaching and learning in the field of Personal and Social Education (PSE), particularly sex

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