Swedish preschool does away with gender

A taxpayer-funded Swedish preschool will not allow teachers or students to refer to someone as “he” or “she,” only “friend” will do.

From The Christian Science Monitor:

“Alexander Söderqvist, a teacher at the school, says he believes in helping the youngest members of society avoid gender-based stereotypes. ‘It’s fun to be part of something different,’ he says, adding that there is a waiting list for entry to the school.”

“Others note that Sweden has long been a leader in promoting gender equality (jämstalldhet). A study published last year by the World Economic Forum – ‘The Global Gender Gap Report 2010’ – ranked Sweden fourth worldwide (behind Iceland, Norway, and Finland)….”

“Jeanne Sager wrote recently on the parenting website CafeMom that ‘inside the walls of Egalia, gender doesn’t exist. But outside of Egalia, gender does exist. … I want my daughter to be equal to boys, but that doesn’t mean that she should ignore her femininity…’ ”

We talked a little bit about this with the J.Crew blog a few months ago about the ad showing a mom painting her little guy’s nails.

So where do you stand on the preschool: Is it enough just to encourage girls to play with trucks and boys to play with dolls or do you have to eliminate gender references as well?

27 comments Add your comment

Father Jane Goose

August 30th, 2011
12:08 am

Liberalism of the highest order. Where do you woman, come up with this junk???!!!!

You actually earn a living off this crap?

I want your job. Hubby making over six digits, pool, shopping, pick up the rug rats…. What is your life in AZ like????

Please… give me something… something… you have reached the bottom…

Father Jane Goose

August 30th, 2011
12:09 am

Plus, you have a round face…. do not wear square glasses…. it is not complemetary for your face. Time for new glasses….

Father Jane Goose

August 30th, 2011
12:10 am

Now where is Mother Jane Goose with her size 12 kiester, wearing a garment that looks like a 1970’s curtain… Where is the size 12 Mother Jane Goose to post a comment….

Father Jane Goose

August 30th, 2011
12:12 am

Theresa, you look older than 40 in that photo… no neck jewlery…. the shame….

Mäkkihöperö

August 30th, 2011
6:34 am

In Finland we don’t have that problem. There is no sex discrimination in Finnish pronouns.
Hän means he or she!

shaggy

August 30th, 2011
6:41 am

Theresa,

My post evaporated. I kept it clean and won’t write it again. Your call.

Jeff

August 30th, 2011
7:39 am

But how would we decide which gender to pay more attention to when it comes to school, education, infidelity, domestic violence, and health? Yes, I’m being a little nimcompoop this morning.

:)

mom2alex&max

August 30th, 2011
8:00 am

Man, did you forget to take your happy pills this morning?

mom2alex&max

August 30th, 2011
8:04 am

Makki: is that really true? Interesting! I always though Spanish was a sexist language because we do not have an “it” pronoun and ALL nouns have gender. PLUS when you have several females, they are referred to with the female plural pronoun (ellas), but if you were to add one single male (or more) to the group, they are referred to with the male plural pronoun (ellos).

For instance, my dad has three children: two daughters and a son. However, in Spanish he would have two “hijas” and one “hijo”, but he could also refer to his three children as having three “hijos”. So it is pretty fascinating to me that in Finnish the pronouns are gender neutral, I think it’s cool!

Peachy

August 30th, 2011
8:21 am

Could this lead to problems with correct sentence structure formation and grammar down the line? I obviously don’t know, but am just posing the question.

Additionally, I think learning the differences between a he and a she are important for preschoolers. They can learn that they are different, but equally important. I’m not sure that calling everyone friend makes everyone equal.

DB

August 30th, 2011
8:26 am

Interesting social experiment — I guess the jury is out on how it shapes kids’ thinking on gender identities. But I think they are missing the point: It’s not the fact that kids have a gender that is the problem. The problem is shaping a child’s environment so that they grow up believing they can do anything regardless of their gender. I don’t know about preschools in Sweden, but the fact that it has a “waiting list” wouldn’t mean anything in North Atlanta, where almost all of the well-regarded preschools have a waiting list. I mean — is a waiting list a sign of “hey, great preschool!” or that there’s a shortage of preschools? :-)

@TWG: Isn’t there a certain IP address you can block? I have to admit, I am getting god-awful tired of Father Jane Goose’s morning sneers and insults to you and other forum members.

TXMom

August 30th, 2011
8:32 am

It’s okay. I’m betting Father Jane Goose is just in a bad mood because his mom (whose basement he still lives in) just yelled at him for not taking out the trash.

JJ

August 30th, 2011
8:47 am

No Father Jane Goose is a sad lonely, miserable, waste of space. Nothing nice to say, nothing positive. Just a bunch of angry comments which to me, reek of jealousy. That and the fact that he couldn’t come up with a more imaginative blog name…..had to copy a regular…..

Betty

August 30th, 2011
8:49 am

I agree with @DB:

“It’s not the fact that kids have a gender that is the problem. The problem is shaping a child’s environment so that they grow up believing they can do anything regardless of their gender”

I think that is what we should be focusing on for both boys and girls

jarvis

August 30th, 2011
9:21 am

The Swedes are an interesting bunch.
Did you know that at Swedish dinner parties couples aren’t typically seated together?

JATL

August 30th, 2011
9:31 am

I just think this is all a load of garbage! The problem lies in telling a gender they aren’t supposed to like certain things, do certain things, or feel certain things. 99% of us are born all male or all female though, and not “allowing” that is just bizarre to me. I don’t care if boys paint their nails or play Barbies or if girls make forts and play war or truck driver or whatever, they should still be boys and girls and referred to as such. The rare few who are transgendered will figure that out and deal with it sometime other than nursery school! I see this as making more problems and causing more confusion for small children than it could ever possibly help.

DB

August 30th, 2011
9:36 am

@jarvis: I don’t think I’ve ever been to a dinner party where I was seated with my husband — and I’m not even Swedish! WheneverI have dinner parties, I’ve always mixed the couples up — it seems to make for better conversation.

shs

August 30th, 2011
9:37 am

Father Jane Goose–I am also getting very tired of the mean, rude comments. Topics on this blog will vary and there will be some you will not be interested in. You can discuss the topic or not–but the personal insults at Theresa are uncalled for and extremely rude. You are showing your character to be lacking in common decency by your mean remarks. I feel sorry for you (but I’m also getting angry) because you feel like you can get on this blog and trash people you do not even know. You should have been taught to not say anything if you don’t have something nice to say. It is possible to disagree without the rude personal comments.

JATL

August 30th, 2011
9:39 am

While I hate to indulge a troll, as I have mentioned before, I believe Father Jane Goose has a bit of a crush on TWG! He sounds like a very immature middle school boy who makes fun of a girl’s glasses or clothes or whatever but it’s because he has a bunch of feelings and he doesn’t know what to do with them! My money is still on him being an old (and now jealous) flame of TWG’s!

And he seems to have had his interest piqued by MJG as well! He’s stolen her name and seems somewhat obsessed with her size and rear end -again very much like an immature pubescent boy..

Jeff

August 30th, 2011
9:40 am

I actually don’t mind FJG. He makes me look nicer.

shaggy

August 30th, 2011
9:56 am

I find it ironic that so much socialism now comes from scandinavia, the land that spawned the Vikings.
The Vikings KNEW the difference in boys and girls, however the females could swing a mean sword when the need arose. The males loved their axes and a good, adventurous pillaging. Then, off to the long house for some good song, story-telling, and beer…a lot of beer, served by the wenches…and I’ll bet they didn’t tell their wives the whole story about the wenches.

Techmom

August 30th, 2011
10:14 am

The Swedes are interesting and you have to give them credit for trying out different things. We’re so stuck in the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality, that we forget to be creative and attempt to do things different (and hopefully better). I’m not quite sure how this study will shake out but I don’t think you can change an entire society and their way of thinking with just a one preschool. Sweden however does have more laws that try to keep the genders equal (they actually have paternity leave for example- though it’s not a year like maternity leave is) but I also think they are a more accepting society as a whole (for better or worse) and put far less emphasis on gender than we do in the US.

CobbParent

August 30th, 2011
11:27 am

Why not just call each child “It” – you know, like we do to pets once we have neutered them and presumably removed their sexuality and whatever else makes them a boy or girl? Not calling a boy “he” doesn’t suddenly make the child genderless – he is still a male and other people will treat him with whatever gender biases they have. I would say “whatever” except I am bothered by the new reference “friend”. I believe a lot of trouble with youth today is that they don’t “know their lane/role” and that is due, in part at least, to some grown-ups refusing to act like adults and treat children like children. No, I am sorry, my child will not call you “Patty” – you are Mrs. Smith because my child understand that there is a line between adults and children and you are an adult and not my child’s “buddy”. Look, I have fun – I take my son and his friends to sporting events and concerts, but they know I am “Mrs. CobbParent” and even though we have a good time I am not their “friend”. Teachers calling students “friend” is a bad idea – be nice to the kids, but make sure they know who is in control and that you are not on their level. sheesh

Metro Coach

August 30th, 2011
11:56 am

Gonna have a h*ll of a time teaching reproduction.

oneofeach4me

August 30th, 2011
12:14 pm

lol@Metro

I think if they want to try it out and see if it works then more power to them. I really don’t see a big deal with the kids using gender references. I think there is more of an issue of kids just being down right mean to each other period. Here in the states most of the bullying is done by a member of the same sex so I am not sure that would really help us.

And to be honest, I agree somewhat with the statement DB made “It’s not the fact that kids have a gender that is the problem. The problem is shaping a child’s environment so that they grow up believing they can do anything regardless of their gender” except I still believe there are somethings that a girl or boy should leave to the other gender. I am not okay with my daughter playing football because she would be crushed like a potato stick and my son has a big head and would just look silly in a tu-tu. :-)

Scooby

August 30th, 2011
12:36 pm

I read about this couple a while back. Hope it works out okay for their kids.
http://www.thestar.com/printarticle/995112

Denise

August 30th, 2011
12:43 pm

My 3:30 AM post has disappeared. Please find.