Swedish pre-school fights gender bias

Pretty interesting stuff.

The whole place is set up to put all kinds of stereotypically gendered behavior on equal footing, e.g. putting the Legos next to the kitchen set.  They’ve got comments from ye olde concern trolls- a UC Berkeley psychologist is quoted as saying, “The kind of things that boys like to do — run around and turn sticks into swords — will soon be disapproved of.  So gender neutrality at its worst is emasculating maleness,” which ignores possibilities like the girls might want to run around with stick-swords too– but they seem to be handling what’s a fairly radical idea (relative to what’s already in existence) as well as they can.

I’m not sure about the whole removal of gender pronouns. They don’t appear to be putting transgender or genderqueer concepts into the program (that’d probably be a bit complicated for three-year-olds), so it seems like something that might backfire or at least limit the efficacy of the overall lessons they’re trying to teach.  The idea is to promote equality; maybe there’s some study somewhere to refute this, but I would think teaching “boys and girls are inherently equal” would be more likely to hold going forward than “there are no boys or girls, just people.”  Everything they see outside the school will militate in favor of there being separate genders, and ignoring that doesn’t seem helpful.  (Example #1:  The headline to the article being about the lack of gender pronouns when that’s far from the only new teaching concept they’re putting into place.)

But everything else they’re doing seems pretty well thought-through.  I hope it works out for them.

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