Stereotypes in schools

Blue is for boys and pink for girls?

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Blue and pink, pink and blue

Generalisations and stereotypes are inevitable nowadays.

When you see these two words, I bet something immediately pops out to your head. Maybe image, situation, quote, joke, anything…

Let’s take baby showers for instance. Colours obviously tell you about the gender of the baby. Isn’t it an unnecessary categorising?

Should we follow this rule of colours in our classroom? And how about the roles? Girls are better is this, while boys have to do the opposite thing?

In books

Of course, after taking a closer look at modern coursebooks we can see that gender stereotypes are no longer so common as they used to be. For example:

But now it’s ok and very common to have a man as a teacher or woman as a police officer as presented here:

I cannot see any problems with pretending to be a male character and I do want my students to feel confident and act different roles up.
Remember, when you give a dialogue or comics to read aloud in the classroom, switch roles and let boys read female parts and vice versa. Have fun with this reading activity. Ask them to change voices, add some gestures or pretend to behave like their character.

Examine the topic deeper

More on the topic can be found on these blogs:

Teacher Tool Kit

Let toys be toys

A cover of book by Robb
Pearlman

Also, a wonderful book about stereotypes is worth reading with your children. A read aloud is available on youtube.

Meanwhile in Poland

That’s a quite new aspect in Polish educational context. There are hardly any good articles about gender stereotypes in Polish schools. And it doesn’t mean that this problem doesn’t exist in my country. As an example, I saw article with quite shocking headline: „Dziewczynki nie interesują się matematyką” means ‘Girls are not interested in Maths’. The problem should be examined and solved as quickly as possible.

A change, for a change?

From generation to generation we pass the same old stereotypes (not only connected with gender). I assume that some things may come from cultural background, but shouldn’t we – teachers create an openminded surrounding for our students? We should accept differences and don’t impose any behaviours or interests on our students.

As teachers we have a great responsibility to educate new generations. Hopefully, we pass them only important values without providing unnecessary harmful stereotypes.

An amazing example of education without gender stereotypes is Swedish one. Watch a short video and see for yourself.

Finishing this article, I’d like to share two drawings made by my pupils from grade 1 (6-7yo). I let them draw anything they like at the back of their tests when they finished. Guess which picture was drawn by a boy and which by a girl…

Picture 1 – Princess and Prince/Knight
Picture 2 – The skeleton knight/warrior

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Imię/ pseudonim