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These schools want to wipe away gender stereotypes from an early age

By ITS Education Asia

I was just reading this article ( http://edition.cnn.com/2017/09/28/health/sweden-gender-neutral-preschool/index.html ) and thought I would share it with those that follow our blog and add some comments on it.

To me the article seems to imply that Gender stereotyping and the associated teaching is what creates the differences between men and women.  Removing gender stereotyping in schools the result will be more well rounded adults.  Problems faced by both girls and boys are the result of the gender stereotyping that has been part of their upbringing.

Personally as an educator I find the premises of the Swedish experiment/model questionable.   Men and women grow up to be very different for the most part in every society in the world.  This has been true throughout history.  In my view, it is not the education model that results in the differences.

Back when I was younger my first extended experience living overseas was when I spent 3 years as a volunteer aid worker in Western Samoa.  One of the things that really struck me about the experience was that a) A lot of what I thought was human nature from my experience growing up in Australia I discovered was actually learnt behaviour for my culture and environment and b) Many things I thought were learnt behavior from my culture and environment were probably human nature.

I tend to think that in an effort to be more ‘politically correct’ educational theorists are getting carried away and are imposing their ‘strange’ views on generations of children to try to prove some pet theory.  The premise of these preschools is that trying to remove gender stereotyping from the education system at a young age will result in better adjusted people.  I personally would like to know what they are basing this assumption on.

It may be the case that the opposite is true.  It may be the case that children growing up in this model will simply be more confused about their identity and place within a general community.  The idea that not calling a young child boy or girl but ‘hen’ is gender neutral seems pretty silly to me.  After all hen is a female chicken.

There is also the reality that when outside the school environment these young children are going to be back in society where gender stereotyping is common.

To me the question education models need to be addressing is discrimination and equity not simply trying to promote their own views on how to resolve problems.  I would not support this model of confusing very young children about their gender.  Equality and openness about all issues is what I believe education models should be teaching.

I would welcome others’  thoughts and comments on this topic.

Dulwich College Singapore

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