Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Gender Equality in Education and Life

Gender equality in education is something that I feel very strongly about.  The first time I remember reading this as an idea, was in regards to Steiner curriculum, where an article I was reading discussing that the curriculum  involved all children learning all skills.  So girls learnt woodwork and boys learnt to knit.  This applied to all sorts of skills; including metalwork, crocheting, etc.  I loved this idea, everyone having an opportunity to try and learn a skill that is useful to life and that they may discover they love. At this point in time, I had two children aged about 1 and 3, and I was starting to develop a relationship with cooking.

 I moved out of home aged 21 and was a useless home maker.  Children being involved in caretaking their living environment was not encouraged in my family and I could cook a bare minimum- I could scramble and fry eggs, make french toast, make pancakes and bake.  Maybe there were a few other skills in there, but they mostly involved cans.  I didn't have the patience to cook 2 minute noodles properly.

So this complete education idea appealed because I felt everyone should be able to take care of themselves.  Going to an all girls' school that valued academics, home making skills had been rejected; girls were as capable as boys!  And whilst this is a fabulous attitude; it should also be noted, that boys are as capable as girls!  So the idea of an education that would teach both genders to be balanced and capable and caring for themselves and others appeals to me.

This was one of the reasons that we headed towards a Steiner education whilst living in the UK.  Along the way, I learnt to be a home maker in a whole sense, as did Damien.  Damien could cook when we met, I was better at cleaning, but not keen to do it! And between the two of us, we made a comfortable home life.  Damien cooked and I cleaned, usually.  However, when we had kids, my lack of food preparation abilities became more and more evident and combined with family health issues I started to take an interest in food.

For us now this is great, but really I should have learnt this as a child/young person, and IMO the same can be said for any basic caretaking skills.  Sewing buttons on, bike maintenance, basic woodwork, cooking, cleaning, etc.  People need to know how to care for themselves in their environments, and the idea that a woman or a man needed to be around to help the opposite gender is just ridiculous!

Due to this equality in education in the Steiner setting we were in, in Scotland, we saw children playing and acting and creating regardless of gender.  Some boys and girls liked dresses and princesses, some liked dragons and princes, some liked pink,blue, green, yellow.  There were far few boundaries around what was accepted for their gender.  This was beautiful, kids were liking things because the thing spoke to them, not because it was what "boys did" or "girls did".  Just because they could.  At home having a daughter and son, and very little media (no TV and only occasional film watching), our children flourished playing all sorts of games sometimes violent, sometimes delicate.  Gabriel loved being able to wear kilts.  He dressed as a fairy.  Willow did the things no-one wonders at any more, she wore pants.  She climbed and hammered things, and built. Willow and Gabriel both getting dressed up in fancy clothes to go out. Both genders trying both things. 

In our home now, this is totally a way of life.  I must admit Damien and I were already like it from the start.  I'm quite a masculine woman and Damien is quite a feminine man.  He expresses his soft side and I express my harder side.  (Generally I'm a bit suspicious of the women and men that are unable to do this.) Everyone tries everything, and everyone is valued for what they themselves offer in our home.

Arden and Irving in their sequin t-shirts from the "girls" range in Zara.  (Who said boys don't like sparkles?)

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