The Preschooler With the Dragon Tattoo: Or, Life in a Swedish Day Care

June 28th, 2011  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  3 Comments

What happens when your kid goes to the wrong preschool.

From the depths of the New York Daily News comes this heartwarming story about a Stockholm preschool that has done away with both traditional fairy tales and gendered pronouns:

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.”

I really only have two things to say about this. Actually, really just one and a half:

1. Ain’t gonna work. Not unless the whole of Swedish society, from preschools on up, does exactly the same thing, and bans all stereotypical depictions of gendered identity. Kids pick things up everywhere, not just in preschool, and no amount of inventing new pronouns is going to counteract what they see and hear elsewhere. And I say this as the father of a 2-and-a-half girl who loves to run, jump, and hit things with sticks—and insists on wearing a “fairy dress” each and every day of her life.

1.5. “Friends,” coincidentally enough, is how Sasha’s teacher, Miss Bree, addresses the kids in her class: “Friends” or “My friend.” It’s really cute, and the kids pick up on it, too, calling each other my friend. I believe, but am not certain, that Miss Bree’s use of the term comes from what kids are called in Chinese: xiao pengyou, or “little friend(s).” And if the Chinese have been calling kids “little friends” for thousands of years, and still haven’t defeated gender stereotyping, then I hold out little hope the Swedes will succeed.

Really, the Swedes would be better off tracking down the hundreds (thousands?) of genetically modified Nazi rapist serial killers hiding in plain sight at the top levels of large corporations and major government agencies. Then they can worry about girls, boys, dolls, and sticks.


Responses

  1. esa says:

    June 28th, 2011at 4:59 pm(#)

    don’t knock it- if you agree that gender equity is a worthy goal, then it’s worth a try.

  2. Matt says:

    June 28th, 2011at 5:07 pm(#)

    One person’s “worth a try” is another person’s “pointless, possibly counterproductive waste of time, energy, and resources.” I’m all for gender equity, but this doesn’t seem like a particularly smart or effective way of achieving it. And on top of that (or maybe underlying it), I think I have a basic philosophical difference with this approach: that is, you achieve gender equity not by pretending that everyone is the same but by recognizing that people are different: boys, girls, intersexed, tall, short, blue-eyed, brown-haired, Muslim, Christian, atheist, whatever. The fantasy of sameness, I’d imagine, could horribly backfire when kids realize that, hey, we’re not actually all the same.

  3. Michelle says:

    January 26th, 2012at 2:38 am(#)

    I agree with Matt’s comment. I live in Belgium and have heard of this preschool quite some time ago. My first thought as well was that erasing gender could backfire horribly. I’m all for gender equity but also for personal identity. I also see that by being “equal” at school, the girls will inevitably look and act more like boys, assuming that ponytails and dresses may be looked down upon…and how is that equal or even fair?

Leave a Response

tips/suggestions/grievances

Recent Comments

  • Dee: As one of the impressed moms there last night, and also because my kid ate 3 bowls of that bolognese, thanks for...
  • Drew Wallner via Facebook: I’m totally making this when we get back from holiday travel, I even just got a...
  • Matt: Whoops! Just put that back in. The recipe editor has been fired.
  • Ed Lilly: Looks great – thanks for posting! One question – you did not specify putting the meat back into...
  • Maks: I’m against baby yoga for sure, but want to say something regarding that author is a little wild about...

DadWagon Reads!

DadWagon

But no daycare.

Apple's New Campus Has Cutting-Edge Features That Will Amaze You | Architectural Digest

architecturaldigest.com

Steve Jobs's final vision has been realized, and it's in the form of a bold 175-acre, Foster + Partners–designed campus

May 17th 4:21pm • No Comments

On the one hand, this is a cute project. On the other, he named his daughter Madison, which is just awful.

Dad Creates Book For Daughter Who 'Didn't Want To Be Chinese'

huffingtonpost.com

His daughter doesn't have any Asian storybook heroes, so he's creating some.

May 16th 2:50pm • No Comments

Time to teach the kids how to start a fire in the Weber.

The New York Times Makes a Print Play for Kids

wwd.com

Sunday’s New York Times will include a special print section for kids.

May 11th 12:08pm • No Comments