Another throwaway comment

My last post dealt with how a teacher dealt, in my opinion, wrongly, with a request for advice from a parent. Today I relate another anecdote showcasing the throwaway comments with which, without realizing, we burden our children with stereotypes.

It was another day at playgroup. 2 year olds were running riot (in a good way). Then came circle time and the teacher explained the activities – the week’s theme was heat so there was warm water, snuggly hot water bottles, and flame outlines to paint in reds and oranges.

And then teacher, with a smile, said:

‘I’ll put out the fire station again too, as I know how much the boys enjoy it.’

In a co-ed class, this was an unwarranted thing to say. It was particularly ridiculous as one of the girls had been playing earlier in the week with the fire station – it was one of her favorite toys.

The teacher meant no harm. She wasn’t going to stop the girls from playing with the fire station. She probably didn’t even realize what she had said – it was just a stereotype that she was repeating. But our toddlers don’t know that. When they hear ‘the fire station is for the boys’ they believe it. They internalize it. They will make it come true.

There are many many stereotypes in this world that BabyBoy and BabyGirl will have to deal with. They should not have to be confronted with them at pre-school. Throwaway comments with inherent sexism, no matter how innocent, should not be part of the curriculum.

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