It was a completely normal Tuesday morning. Sitting my car in traffic, coffee in the cup holder giving off a pleasant aroma, and talk back radio tuned on. I started listening about how children as young as 4 should avoid being read fairy tales as they contain anti gender equality messages . WHAT. Are they serious. Some “fancy pants” in an office decides that Cinderella may secretly be teaching your 4-year-old daughter that she must be beautiful in order to catch a prince charming. ARE THEY SERIOUS !?. Now of course I’m not denying these issues are out there, and do affect society but are they issues that should be on the mind of a 4 or 5 year old ? Whats wrong with a 5 year old girl wanting to be a princess ?, if she wants to wear princess clothing let her, she deserves the attention that makes her feel special. Let a young boy pretend to rescue the princess, swing a sword and turn into a frog. Whats wrong with it ? It’s what kids do. They enjoy being kids, living in a fairy tale world, playing with swords, unicorns and Shrek dolls, it protects them from the issues of the world, the adult issues. We need let our children be children, and not teach them about the issues that stress out adults such as gender and racial equality etc, as they really just want to play and be children.
The following is an article regarding the changes to early childhood learning within Australia :
The Australia’s Victorian government has introduced new measures to tackle family violence by asking preschoolers to become “fairy tale detectives” and spot sexism among fairy tales like Snow White and Cinderella.
According to the teaching resources, gender norms “influence beliefs about how girls and boys should act, speak, dress and express themselves”, and are “reinforced through popular television shows and story books.”
“Analyses of popular books have found that central characters are more likely to be male, female characters are more often in nurturing roles, and occupations are gender stereotyped,” it added.
Children will be asked to become “fairy tale detectives” and think about what would happen if the fairy tale characters swapped their roles. For example, as outlined in the teaching material, “if the girl had the sword and the boy waited for her to rescue him”.
The program claims children would notice in fairy tales that “men are supposed to be strong and brave and women are supposed to be beautiful and need rescuing by men”.
Dr Lauren Rosewarne of the University of Melbourne, identified several sexist tropes found in fairy tales such as “old women being witches” or “women being saved by men”.
“Fairytales have long been in the crosshairs of feminists who have considered the presentations to reiterate antiquated stereotypes,” she said.
Teachers, meanwhile, will explain to school children that sex only refers to different bodies people are born with whereas gender “helps us talk about ideas we have about the pressure on men and women to act in certain ways”.
The government denied the claims that the new curriculum will mean certain fairy tales are banned from classrooms. Families and Children Minister Jenny Mikakos told Daily Mail Australia that no fairy tales will be banned under “Respectful Relationships” program. ”
“It’s absolutely not true—at all,” she said. “I read fairy tales to the kids in my family, I’ll continue to do that and I urge parents and early childhood educators to do the same. Kids should be allowed to grow up to be whatever they want—not made to feel like they have to fit into a gender stereotype.”
What the hell are they trying to do ?? Children love fairy tales. I loved fairy tales. At no point did a fairy tale ever make me violent towards my fellow female classmates, not did it ever make me treat them any differently. I didn’t recognise so of my fellow classmates as being a different race, and to me every girl was a princess. Here’s the reason why. I was 5 years old. I didn’t understand the words stereotype, discriminate, Gender Bias. I was to busy being a child, playing, running, climbing trees.
Educating children as young as 4 about Gender Bias, violence, racial issues etc is robbing children of the very thing nature has provided them to learn about dealing with their pairs. A childhood. Children don’t care if someone has a different ethnic background, or that an adult somewhere is worried that Cinderella is an attractive, skinny model figure that needs rescuing by a strong, handsome prince. They just want to be children and discover the world, have fun.
The most important years in anyones life is from early childhood (pre-school) through to the end of elementary school. These years teach children how to relate, how to be social, how to make friends, build relationships. Yes lessons are learned, and usually through discipline which teaches wrong from right, respect, accountability and growth. It seems that nowadays the education department is trying to create a batch of robot children, perfect from the get go. unfortunately, the education department and associated government curriculum designers are so out of touch with the needs of our children that they are ruining the very people they are relying on for our future.
A very intelligent man once said :
“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” Albert Einstein
The following link is to an amazing document titled “The Positive Impacts of Fairy Tales for Children”
The link and document above goes on to say:
Removing Fairy tales from children’s lives is as detrimental as telling them the truth about Santa, The Tooth Fairy, The Easter Bunny. You remove some of the childhoods most enjoyable celebrations. But they’re a lot more than that. They are the most significant bonding experiences between family, as important as birthdays, trips to the zoo and fun at the park.
Below are five important reasons to keep fairy tales in the lives of children:
1. They boost a child’s imagination and cultural literacy
A child’s imagination is a powerful and unique thing. It’s not only used to make up stories and games, it’s a key factor in their creative thoughts and can define the type of education, career and life they have. With this imagination comes a cultural literacy; fairy tales often include different cultures and ways of doing things. They teach children about cultural differences in the world outside their own gifting them a curiosity to learn new things and experience new places.
2. They teach us right from wrong
Standing strongly within fairy tales of magic horses and glass slippers is a moral backbone. It’s in a fairytale’s DNA to have a strong moral lesson, a fight between good & evil, love and loss, and these lessons rub off on our children.
According to The Telegraph, Mrs Goddard Blythe, director of the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology in Chester, said: “Fairy tales help to teach children an understanding of right and wrong, not through direct teaching, but through implication.”
Fairy tales help to teach children an understanding of right and wrong, not through direct teaching, but through implication
Fairy tales teach children that good will always triumph and, while this may not be true in aspects of the real world, the lesson is simple and important. Be the hero, not the villain. Learn to hope for better.
3. They develop critical thinking skills
Following on from the last point, and as Richard Dawkins has pointed out, fairy tales teach children critical thinking. They see the consequences of characters decisions and learn that what will happen to them depends on the choices they make. Not all characters can be good role models, even ‘the goodies’ can be damsels in distress, or reckless (or feckless) princes. What the stories do teach though, is that when bad things happen, you have decisions to make. If you make the right ones, everything might just turn out OK.
4. They can help children deal with emotions themselves
Not only do fairy tales prepare our kids for society and making moral decisions, they teach them how to deal with conflict within themselves. Child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim, who specialised in the importance of fairy tales in childhood, believed that fairy tales can aid children in dealing with anxiety they are, as yet, unable to explain. In fairy tales children are often the main character and more often than not will win against the story’s evil. Readers can relate to this and find a fairy tale hero in themselves. Watch any Pixar film for guidance on this one.
5. And finally, they are great fun!
I have very fond memories of curling up in bed and disappearing into another world where dragons fly and princes fight. My memories of overwhelming excitement when my dad came home with the latest Harry Potter book still makes my smile. The games I played with my friends in our garden were indisputably improved by our imaginations, which were still swimming in last night’s story.
Whether it’s for indirect moral lessons, improving their imaginations or because your child can’t put that book down reading fairy tales should be encouraged. Read them together, help your kids invent their own and make sure they know can win against any wicked witch.
Taking the above five points into consideration, why would you tarnish any fairytale by pulling it apart and trying to associate society issues of todays adults during story time at primary school with a group of 4-5 year olds ? Well that’s whats happening now in Australia. Maybe this is designed to push children at an early age into the world of anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication. Of course children develop differently and at different ages. A simple rule should be “If your child asks about it, tell them about it”. In my opinion, broaching something with your child before they can grasp a full comprehension about it may be a bad idea and might do nothing more than scare the hell out of them.
ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), diagnosed or misdiagnosed by teachers during early childhood learning is also a major issue (I was one of those misdiagnosed). Teachers who may be struggling to capture the imagination of a child, maybe a child is a little slow to learn something, has a wandering attention, or an over imaginative personality, is usually asked to sit quietly, while the teacher explains the likelihood of them having ASD or ADHD to his or her parents. In my case my attention wandered because I could see the black board. Two years later, suggestions I see a psychologist, take pharmaceutical drugs, go to a special school of be home schooled were dismissed after an eye test diagnosed me as being long sighted with a stigmatism in my right eye. A $250 pair of glasses fixed that. Not allowing our children to actually be children by educating them on things they shouldn’t have knowledge of is irreversibly damaging them. No wonder teachers have difficulty educating and in some cases controlling the children in their classrooms. The children are freaking out over issues they shouldn’t know about until they’re teenagers. Teaching a 4-5 year old about domestic violence, gender equality etc, is as bad as putting them in front of the TV and showing them a war movie highlighting the windfalls and decline in humanity during the gas chamber era of the 2nd world war. What did they really think would happen to a child’s mind !? ( a bit of an exaggeration I know, but my points made).
Fair tales encourage imagination and creative thinking in children, and adults. They are a form of escapism, and are a part of popular culture and literature. They teach wrong from right, they develop imagination, teach morals, respect and give a child a sense of belonging. They’re fun, happy and innocent. Shielding our children from fairy tales would be to shield them from a very rich and culturally significant form of storytelling and one that can bring them great enjoyment.
Would you rather read a bedtime fairytale to your child or the latest version of Stephen Kings – The Stand ?
Let Children be children.