Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Preschool teachers reinforce gender stereotypes

According to research from the University of Gothenburg, a preschooler's gender determines how he or she is treated and responded to in play and learning activities, and when the children's possibilities become expanded, it is usually a result of the children's and not the teachers' initiative.
And this was in Sweden, where gender equality is a fetish. It reminds me of an old TV documentary, maybe a Nova. It showed a mom and dad with their son and daughter, one at a time. The parents said they treated their kids identically, but when they were given a task to help one of the kids with a task that was too hard for the kids to do by themself but easy enough if explained (something to do with sorting shapes and colors), when it was the boy's turn they said things like, "Now, this one is orange and a triangle. This one is orange but a square." When it was they girl's turn they said (I think this is an exact quote), "Aren't we having fun?"

But as with racial civil rights and gay acceptance, it is the kids who are moving us forward.
"But the study finds that it is the children that reformulate and expand their possibilities. There is not a single example in the material where teachers consciously challenge children to engage in border crossing."

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