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Boys Vs Girls


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Can anyone suggest how i explain to staff the reasons for not grouping children according to gender? I know we should not be doing this but have been involved in an assignment on difference and diversity but it is such a huge subject that I wondered if there was a short sweet acceptable explanation for staff who continually say "all the boys line up".

 

Thanks x :o

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In reception last year we brought in the boy-girl rule for lining up to address behaviour.It worked really well and T/A with the same problem as you was sorted as well :o

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I'd be interested to know why we shouldnt group them by gender. I've done for various reasons, am I doing it wrong? Its part of a grouping thing, 'if you're a boy, do this' 'if you're a girl, do that', if you're wearing lace up shoes do the other' :o

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I agree with Rea we also do the same all boys with blue shoes stand up, all girls etc never realised that this was in someway wrong can understand the issue of not doing gender specific activities or toys but did not know about this if this is tha case need to speak to all my staff then.

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We have a counting time during registration: someone counts all the girls and then someone counts all the boys and then someone counts everyone. We add them all up to find out how many children are in today. Its amazing how many children can't tell girls from boys to begin with!

 

I think the key thing here is whether staff are grouping children according to their gender based on a stereotypical view of what they can do or prefer to do. So whereas its great to ask children to do something in a circle game according to whether they are a boy or a girl, it wouldn't be acceptable to have all the girls line up so they could go and do cooking whilst all the boys were lined up to go and do woodwork.

 

Maz

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Thank you for all your thoughts. Perhaps it's a misplaced "hang-up" I've developed after being so bogged down in difference and diversity which deals with assumption and prejudice regarding race, culture, ethnicity, AND gender! I seem to remember reading something about male and female being two extremes of the same scale, with individuals having various elements of stereotypical traits. Perhaps it is not important unless, as suggested, they are being divided according to stereotypical activities. However, in trying to treat children as individuals, it may help not to group them by type. Perhaps we could ask them to line up if they are wearing spots/stripes/colours/names beginning with a sound/by favourite book........... etc.

 

Think I'm rewriting my assignment!! Maybe I should let it go, but then, it would be all too easy for more staff to encourage grouping by gender, just because it's quick and easy.

 

I must also add that one staff member was heard to say that the girls could line up first because they had sat and listened to the story so well! Really? All of them? And none of the boys did?

 

I still ponder......

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I too wonder this is 'wrong'?

I think that this confuses equality of opportunity - giving everyone the same opportunities does not make boys and girls equal. I have been reading a fantastic book on brain development in chn recently (if only my brain was developing perhaps I could remember the name of it :o ) which has gone through the ways in which boys and girls learn differently and the different sorts of support they need. I think that true equality can only come through the recognition and acceptance of the differences, and provision for different learning styles and needs.

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There are gender differences and children do need to know whether they are boys or girls.

 

I had a liitle girl a few years ago whose parents dressed her as a boy, boy's haircut and boys shoes etc. She had lots of social problems.

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Goodness, this is a good discussion, thanks for starting it Di. I've got nothing particularly useful to add except to say that perhaps it's the activities you separate them for rather than drawing attention to the difference itself.

 

IE (to show an absurd and hopefully unrealistic distinction) "Ok boys line up over there and girls over there. Right the boys are going to play hairdressing and you girls come and choose a gun - we're going to play cops and robbers!"...

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I must also add that one staff member was heard to say that the girls could line up first because they had sat and listened to the story so well! Really? All of them? And none of the boys did?

 

I still ponder......

I think the pondering will never stop, Di.S! For my Foundation Degree I did a research project into whether the whole "pink is for girls and blue is for boys" issue affected children's participation in creative activities so the gender divide is of great interest to me.

 

I would love to do a project looking at just the issue you raise: I too hear comments in my setting such as "I need a big strong boy to carry this box" and am aware that girls are often praised because they look pretty or are wearing a lovely dress! The ethics surrounding this type of research are so complex though - very tricky for an inexperienced researcher to tackle, I think.

 

I always challenge this type of thinking though: so when I do hear the 'big strong boy' thing I always make sure they get a 'big strong girl' to help too! And I'm ashamed to say I probably would have interfered by saying the names of some of the boys who had listened well so that they could line up with the girls too. :o

 

Wouldn't you hate to work with me xD

 

Maz

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"Ok boys line up over there and girls over there. Right the boys are going to play hairdressing and you girls come and choose a gun - we're going to play cops and robbers!"...

Well we've all heard about Peggy's exploits in that department!

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Susan I know exactly what you mean I have a girl this year who has a name which doesn't give a clue to gender (it is actually a sporting venue) and wears boys clothes and has short hair and the other children are unsure whether she is a boy or girl the child herself is very confused.

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I have a friend in Australia working in a Kindergarten who says they have recently started grouping children for activities into boy groups and girl groups, I said that that would be frowned upon here with regard to equality, but she says that it is a fairly new style of learning over there in Perth and it is producing amazing results, there is some research going on to monitor the results, I will pass on to everyone as soon as she sends me the link.

 

I was initially horrified but if it is working well for some of the children who are we to.................?? I suppose that is the point it may be for SOME of the children, but it still seems to much of a segregation thing for me?

 

Interesting isn't it??

 

Can't wait for the research results.

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shirel there was something in the paper yesterday about boys needing to be educated separately from a very early age - not sure who the chap was or what his background was, but I'll try and find it and see if there's any research to back up what he was saying.

 

Maz

 

(the mother of a boy and girl at single sex schools - thankfully the daughter is at the girls school :o )

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Just to throw another "thinking point" into the pot, there is actually a diagnosed condition called Gender Identity Disorder (GID), whereby a child is actually convinced that they are the other gender - and this disorder can start manifesting itself from a very young age.

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Theres a fairly new EYFS publication out about raising boys achievement, wonder how the ideas there would fit with this?

 

Ariel as the teacher of a predominantly male class this year, I'd be really interested in knowing that book title!

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I think variety is the way, if children are ALWAYS grouped by gender then I think this just basically becomes a 'missed opportunity' for other types of grouping, as has already been suggested, ie: wearing stripes, colour, etc.

 

If however, it is notable that particular staff always group by gender I would ask them to reflect on why they do this, is it just easier and quicker? Is it because they view children as mainly defined by gender, thus missing the masculine and feminine in everyone?

 

I also did research on how advertising specifically defines gender stereotypes, especially at Christmas, the toys themselves, but more subteley the 'presentation', boys adverts being louder music, action based, sometimes quite aggresive (playing together but against each other) in atmosphere, whereas girls adverts were all sugar and sweetness, calming, quiet music, all giggly and 'friendly', (playing together), plus of course colour bias, pinks, yellows, pastels for girls, blue, blacks, greens etc for boys. The power of media not to be underestimated!. My research showed that children aged from 2 yrs do have stereotypical views of what boys or girls 'should or should not play with'. I remember showing a picture of a jeep to a girl asking would you play with this, she replied, No, it's for boys, I said why can't you play with it, she said 'cause my brother would hit me!!!!! However, the boys were more aghast at the thought of playing with dolls, prams, small world horsey toys than girls were at playing with soldiers, jeeps, action figures etc.

 

So, anything that can promote 'freedom of choice' without being a follower of stereotypes within the setting is good, but to also balance that children are just learning about their gender identity at this age, and therefore this needs to be part of grouping and all the other differentiation activities that enables this understanding. Just last term, I remember spending a lot of time helping a boy who kept calling girls 'he' and boys 'she', mind you he defies all 'boy' stereotypes by having lovely long blonde curly hair ( that many of us ladies would die for :o ), cuddlies, comforters, and played mainly with musical, creative activities, plus was the most popular hairdressers model in the role play area. xD ( an avid Thomas the Tank Engine fan, but then I think he just likes Ringo Star's voice :( ).

 

Great discussion, I just wonder how much the children are actually influenced by what we do in our time with them, compared to media and society and home life influences as well, I just kept working on individuals self identity and self worth/esteem and the ability to stand up for their own ideas and beliefs and to make their own choices.

 

Peggy

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Oh the media and advertising are mostly to blame and the toy manufacturers are still getting it wrong. They perpetuate the styreotypes more than most parents I know, although I know some who are aghast at the idea of their child playing with something they consider the wrong gender, usually boys.

The latest advert to shock me is the one for little girls who can learn to cook like mom. I have 2 points about this... :o

1. This mom cant cook

2. I have sons who like to have a go, and who should have a go.

It looks like a 1950's advert where the woman was always in the home and little girls always helped while big brother Johnny was helping dad to sweep leaves, build boats and play cricket.

 

Its even affected my own lads over the years with a comment from Richard when he was 5 that 'you cant have lady doctors!!'

I was horrfied that a son of mine could say such a thing, so asked the lady doctor who was seeing to him, if she could send a male nurse to carry on his treatment.

That attitude didnt come from me or his playgroup, it happpened afterwards at school, mixing with other children and probably noticing the steryotypes in the media.

I know there is a stage where boys and girls are definitly boys and girls but advertisers need to be more aware of what they do.

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I have often lined the children in boys and girls, but I also line up by colour of top, hair colour, eye colour. I try to show that we all have differences, but also we all have some similarities.

I do agree that it mustn't be seen as dividing the chldren up to do stereotypical tasks.

Sal

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One of the more irritating effects of having a school uniform is that it becomes difficult to use clothes as a means of distinguishing groups of children. You also can't use hair/eye colour when in a community where this is likely to be all the same.

 

Does anyone remember the research done several years ago where babies were dressed in blue or pink and various adults asked to play with them, but didn't know if they were boys or girls? Most adults, they concluded, treated the babies differently based on the colours of their clothing, those dressed in pink were spoken to with softer voices and treated more 'gently' than those in blue.

 

Interesting stuff.

 

My step granddaughter makes me laugh (shes 4). My stepdaughter cuts my hair and I keep my hair short..she always says, but daddies have short hair, and you're not a daddy!

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the mother of a boy and girl at single sex schools - thankfully the daughter is at the girls school :o

 

Spoilsport!

 

Sorry, that wasn't a very helpful comment, was it?

I think this is a fascinating discussion, but everyone else has said most of what I would have! We did once have a fantastic little boy when I was in a playgroup, who would make a beeline for the dressing up clothes on arrival, don a beautiful long dress and play happily all session in it. One morning he was asked by one of my less enlightened colleagues what Daddy would make of him wearing a dress. He replied "But Daddy comes home from work and puts a dress on" - her face was a picture and I could hardly keep a straight face!

 

Little boy is now 13, big on judo and football, and his twin sister plays for the girls football team in the same club.

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I, too, had a little boy like that - he was later diagnosed with the Gender Identity Disorder that I mentioned earlier and that marked the start of a huge emotional struggle for the whole family. Luckily they were able to tap into specialist help and counselling, and, nine years on, things are a lot happier. But it has been a real rollercoaster for everyone. I don't mean to flatten a really interesting thread, but in this instance I feel compelled to share a personal experience because I feel it's so relevant to the overall underlying issues.

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we have several boys who do that now,

one in particular whose dad is a bit stressed by it all as he does it at home as well, but mum is very relaxed about it and says he is learning lots from it...

one day we had to report back to mum that he had a 'disagreement' and we had to intervene, :o

dad was really pleased ! :(

That was until he learnt what it was about....

a pretty pink dress covered in frills and it was another boy he was 'fighting' for it. xD

 

On reflection we don't ask the children to divide into groups or lines of boys or girls...

we did have a member of staff once though who insisted on ensuring the girls did not wear the blue hats when going outside.. (they all wear sun hats outside in hotter weather) took us a while to realise what she was doing and eventually educated her that it really did not matter if they had green, red or blue hats on so long as it was a hat.

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In the case I spoke about, it was the parents that needed the most counselling - and still have regular contact with a counsellor now. It was an extremely hard issue for them to come to terms with - they basically needed support to grieve for the little boy that they thought they had and to accept that actually he wanted to grow up as a girl and would probably request a sex change at some point in his life.

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Wolfie,

I hope you didn't consider my post insensitive - it must have been, and obviously still is, very hard for 'your' family. But I have come across similar scenarios so often where it 'sorted itself', if you'll excuse the phrase, that I felt it a valid comment. I wish 'your' family all the very best in their uncertain future.

 

Sue

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No, I didn't think you insensitive at all, don't worry - I just felt I had to add my twopenceworth because it's an issue very close to my heart and I saw the family going through so much pain.

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