What we have come to: no more "him" or "her" in pre-school

The mind boggles:

At the “Egalia” preschool, staff avoid using words like “him” or “her” and address the 33 kids as “friends” rather than girls and boys.

From the color and placement of toys to the choice of books, every detail has been carefully planned to make sure the children don’t fall into gender stereotypes.

“Society expects girls to be girlie, nice and pretty and boys to be manly, rough and outgoing,” says Jenny Johnsson, a 31-year-old teacher. “Egalia gives them a fantastic opportunity to be whoever they want to be.”

The taxpayer-funded preschool which opened last year in the liberal Sodermalm district of Stockholm for kids aged 1 to 6 is among the most radical examples of Sweden’s efforts to engineer equality between the sexes from childhood onward.

Breaking down gender roles is a core mission in the national curriculum for preschools, underpinned by the theory that even in highly egalitarian-minded Sweden, society gives boys an unfair edge.

To even things out, many preschools have hired “gender pedagogues” to help staff identify language and behavior that risk reinforcing stereotypes.

Some parents worry things have gone too far. An obsession with obliterating gender roles, they say, could make the children confused and ill-prepared to face the world outside kindergarten.

“Different gender roles aren’t problematic as long as they are equally valued,” says Tanja Bergkvist, a 37-year-old blogger and a leading voice against what she calls “gender madness” in Sweden.

Those bent on shattering gender roles “say there’s a hierarchy where everything that boys do is given higher value, but I wonder who decides that it has higher value,” she says. “Why is there higher value in playing with cars?”

Read the rest.

  • ron chandonia

    This latest bizarre development in de-gendering reality may be coming sooner than we expect to a country close to home. On National Review’s blog this morning, Glenn Stanton posted an account of an incident he witnessed at New York City’s triumphal gay pride parade:


    Stanton realizes that this sort of thing will never involve large numbers of children–not directly. But it serves to illustrate our post-Christian society’s rejection of the once-undeniable truth that “gender does matter for marriage, the family, and society.”

  • http://seasonsofgrace.net Kathy Schiffer

    I was a snippy feminist until I had kids. That is, KIDS (one boy and one girl), because until I had one of each I could still fool myself into thinking that girls and boys are alike. But if you give a boy a stick, he’ll use it as a gun; a girl will just as likely use it for a craft project. It was early in my son’s toddlerhood that I realized what a pompous jerk I’d been.

  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    Oh what a brave new world. I wonder if Cuomo is going to pass this into law as a requirement for all schools.

    Sarcasm aside, this is just stupidity.

  • Nerina

    Kathy, you and me both. I have three boys and two girls and they are DIFFERENT! What this school is actually doing is preventing boys and girls from being who they are *naturally* inclined to be. Of course, there are some more sensitive boys and more physical girls, but in my experience, boys and girls often conform to traditional gender roles without any adult influence.

  • DcnDon

    Kathy, I feel “if you give a boy a stick, he’ll use it as a gun” is stereotyping in a way we are might be better to avoid.

    If you give some boys a stick, they’ll use it as a magic wand and see if they can be Harry Potter. Others will use it to direct a marching band (no comment on what kind of music but 76 Trombones was heard close around that time.) Some will just stare at it really close up and wonder if there’s a whole civilization of bugs inside the tree it came from like the one crawling its way up the surface. And some will rub their hands back and forth really fast to see if they can use the stick to start a fire. On the other hand, if you give some girls a stick they’ll hit you with it.

    Incidentally, these are all real people who went on to grow into pretty normal people. The girl with the stick is a dear friend who hasn’t hit me recently.

    I would agree with the assertion that boys and girls are different but would extend that to say that all kids are different, and more subjected to insidious gender role stereotyping by advertising, media production (role presentation) and even what is presented as wholesome, balanced material for kids than anything else.

    That said, may Heaven preserve our families.

    God bless

  • Rev Mr Flapatap

    We have four kids (3 boys and one girl) and they keep their toys in a common room so each can play with whatever toy they want. I have yet to see the boys go for a doll or the girl for a toy gun (except for a time when she threw it to an annoying brother.)

  • Joseph

    There is a higher value to playing with cars because cars are cool and EZ Bake Ovens are dumb.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00442985285647041700 Melody

    I am in favor of just letting kids be kids, and letting them play however they want to, (without hurting each other). And limiting their exposure to media and video games would be a good thing. I can relate to DcnDon’s description from raising our sons, and remembering the things my brothers and sisters and I did when we were kids.
    And it would be nice if educators could refrain from making childhood into a sociological experiment.

  • Debra

    IF they are letting them just play with what they want, fine.
    I had to look at two Catholic schools for my kids. One, I crossed off for various reasons, but the “boy side” of the playground and the “girls” side was a turn off. I also saw how the big walk-in doll house inside seemed to be for the girls and boys had the cool race track and cars, etc.
    The other school didn’t have harsh lines, if a boy wanted to cook with a female, so what, or if my daughter wanted to ride the train car or play with the fire engine, so be it.
    They will go to what they want, no matter what.

    I grew up with all boy friends, just was our neighborhood. I loved it, we had a lot of fun and they would play “house” with me sometimes. I had a nice balance, good be a “mom” and hit a kickball further than most. : )

  • Debra

    Forgive me, I didn’t see the “read more” (tired) Not what I thought, that is extreme, I thought they were just making the boys play with “boy stuff” and vice versa.
    That I don’t like, but I think there shouldn’t be strict “girl” areas and “guy” areas. Next time I’ll pay attention to to detail.

  • Jim Dotter

    They tried this (and failed) in the Israeli Kibbutz’s. Decades ago.

  • Joe

    Nature will prevail. This “de-gerender-izing” – I dont get it. All of us have our unique gift to the world from our Creator -Our Loving Father – and male and female HE created them.

  • Rudy

    My brother and me used to play with our girl cousin’s Barbies. We would pretend our GI Joe’s captured them for spying and would line them up against the wall and…. well, they never talked to the enemy again…

  • pagansister

    A bit too far, IMO. The play area in the kindergarten I taught in had the toys on the shelf—and each child, “boy or girl” could play with whatever they wanted. Yes, some of the boys took the dolls, and some of the girls took cars/blocks etc. No adult got upset seeing a boy playing with a doll, or a girl with cars. Children will choose whatever gets if for them—and some days the “stereo type” behavior —boy– cars, girl–dolls would be there and sometimes not. The preschool also had the toys on the selves and the children took whatever they wished to play with—not always what “gender” related toy some thought they would always choose .

  • sj

    “We would pretend our GI Joe’s captured them for spying and would line them up against the wall and…. well, they never talked to the enemy again…”

    Yeah, I think that’s a pretty common adaptation of girls’ toys to male play. Conversely, I think my sisters domesticated my plastic Civil War soldiers.