I have spent some time today participating in a dialogue of sorts in a Swedish Reggio facebook group. The dialogue is focussed on gender, and how we work with it and is based on a blog by Cristian Fabbi - What do we talk about when we talk about gender education in preschool?
And boy oh boy has this got me thinking - and replying a whole load...
here are some of my thoughts from that dialogue...
Sometimes I think the discussions about gender are wrong. I feel that somehow the focus is always about giving more to either boys or girls (there always seems to be a focus on one of the genders) or at least this is how so many are interpreting it - and this I think can cause friction, as there is often the feeling that if you are giving someone something you are taking it away from another - in other words that if we are giving women power it means we are taking it away from men or vice versa.
I believe that the focus should be equality - that there is no taking away, that there is only adding on.
In the preschool arena this can mean that we do not take all the pink and girlie things away to make them equal to the boys, but we ensure that there is enough of all sorts of toys/materials and enough access to all the the materials for all genders.
I remember in the early days of my preschool teaching life that I found that my attempts to create equality was to make it more boy-like. On Fridays we had film time at one preschool I worked at, and a lot of thought used to go into what film we should watch. I ALWAYS excluded the Fairytopia films (that were very popular with my own preschool-aged twin girls at the time) because they were so "girlie", and then I realised that it was not fair to either the boys or girls that I did this - so I brought the Barbie Fairytopia film and the children watched it - and it was the BOYS who showed the greater interest in the film - suddenly a whole new world was opened up to these 3-6 year olds with a variety of characters and a female as the lead role who showed fear and bravery, generosity and friendship - and yes its coated in a thick layer of pink.
Recently I put fairies in the magic world we created at preschool where I work now - and watched a car-crazy boy lovingly pick up the fairy, give it hugs and then proceed to play - there were also cars available and it was a girl who had the fairies driving the cars.