Only hens at Swedish preschool

| October 12, 2011 | 0 Comments

Egalia Preschool in the Sodermalm district of Stockholm, Sweden, is determined to engineer equality between the sexes. Teachers have removed the pronouns ‘him’ and ‘her’ (as well as other related gender descriptors) from the language of instruction. Instead, they use the genderless Swedish word ‘hen’.

The teachers also carefully plan the acquisition of toys and books to avoid any gender stereotyping. The toy kitchen lives next to the Lego bricks “to make sure the children draw no mental barriers between cooking and construction”, says an Egalia teacher. Many of the children’s books deal with homosexual couples, single parents or adopted children to represent the diverse nature of the 21st century family.

Egalia’s methods have attracted a long waiting list for admission. But, cautions Jay Belsky, a child psychologist at the University of California, USA, the system could implode at any time. “The kind of things that boys like to do – run around and turn sticks into swords – will soon be disapproved of. So gender neutrality at its worst could emasculate maleness.”

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Category: Spring 2011

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