Genderless Preschool in Sweden

From an early age most boys learn that they are “should” play with trucks, love blue and play baseball. Girls are taught to play with dolls, love pink and play house. However more and more parents are educators are experimenting with raising children “genderless” such as the Canadian parents who would not reveal the gender of their baby. Now this preschool in Sweden  leaves gender roles up to the kids. What do you think? Should children be raised “genderless?”
At the "Egalia" preschool, staff avoid using words like "him" or "her" and address the 33 kids as "friends" rather than girls and boys.

From the color and placement of toys to the choice of books, every detail has been carefully planned to make sure the children don't fall into gender stereotypes.

"Society expects girls to be girlie, nice and pretty and boys to be manly, rough and outgoing," says Jenny Johnsson, a 31-year-old teacher. "Egalia gives them a fantastic opportunity to be whoever they want to be."

The taxpayer-funded preschool which opened last year in the liberal Sodermalm district of Stockholm for kids aged 1 to 6 is among the most radical examples of Sweden's efforts to engineer equality between the sexes from childhood onward.

these same people will also insist that being homosexual is not a choice, but somehow what boys like and what girls like is a choice or is forced upon them by society.

when it comes to nature over nurture, nature wins.
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I'm sorry, is their something wrong with developing an idea of what society will expect from you in advance? These kids will be freaks when they grow up, and this sad little test in social engineering will prove only that test like these never work.
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"It" used to be a perfectly normal and respectful usage about a child, even into the 1900s. And both boys and girls used to be dressed alike in petticoats until the age of 6 or so. So these so-called "gender neutral" concepts are actually old-fashioned -- and flourished at a time when differentiation between gender roles was FAR more harsh and stratified. So much for these measures being intrinsicly progressive!
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They still have normal boys/girls names (I hope) they will go to school and see "stereotyped" behavior there. What are the goals of such an upbringing? Kids with identity problems? Does it really only go as "deep" as to encourage boys to play with dolls? Why is that important? What for? %-/
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cdboch- That's exactly what this school is doing - developing in these children an idea of what society will expect from them. Namely, they'll have a solid understanding that there are complete jerks like you who will call them freaks just for doing with their lives what they like instead of what's "expected" of them.
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While I think it's a silly concept, I'm not sure they'll turn into freaks of nature because of this. I also don't know if I'd call a smattering of oddballs here and there as "more and more parents and educators".
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Nothing like bucking millions of years of evolution to screw your kid up.

All he/she/it has to do is look a few inches below their bellybutton and they KNOW what gender they are - so how exactly are they "genderless"?
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During the first 2 years of life, there is sequential growth, prodigious proliferation, and overproduction of axons, dendrites, and synapses in different regions of the brain [*1].

[*1] Neurons are nerve cells, which communicate with each other by sending out "messages" from extensions of the cell body called axons and receiving "messages" into extensions called dendrites. The axon-dendrite point of communication is termed a synapse. Synaptogenesis is the creation of synapses.

This process is genetically determined. However, not all the synaptic connections survive, many being subsequently "pruned" due to lack of use (Singer, 1995). During this period of plasticity, or potential for change, the determination of which synaptic connections will persist is environmentally regulated, being dependent on information received by the brain. A competitive process operates, determining which neurons and neural connections will survive. The competition is, for instance, for potential binding sites on the receiving neuron. To quote Courchesne, Chisum, and Townsend (1994) "neurons that fire together, wire together". Synaptic connections that are not utilised gradually disappear. The progressive neuronal maturation and the establishment of synaptic connections are reflected in changes in the infant's increasing functional maturity.

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I think this is good but don't most nurseries do this anyway? I used to work at one here in England and if a little boy wanted to dress up in a fairy costume - we let him.
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There are plenty of ways kids get screwed up in early childhood development, and having your own kid develop their own gender identity is not one of them. Time will tell on what effect this will have, but predicting the worst only displays personal bias.
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I doubt if it will matter one way or the other. They tried this stuff in the 70's too. Theoretically we should be living in a gender free utopia right now.
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I don't know how it is in Swedish; but in German, 'girl' is 'genderless/neutral' = Mädchen

but 'boy' is masculine...

it figures...
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My wife is a preschool teacher in Los Angeles. This is basically the philosophy taught to modern preschool teachers. They have toys and dressup and she doesn't stop girls from playing with boy toys nor does she stop boys from wearing girl clothes. All the kids are treated not as boys or girls but kids. I think it's a great way to go.
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waste of money/time/thought... kids should and will do whatever they want at this age and whatever gender they are inside will show itself no matter what toys they play with or what roles they're assigned.
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@vonskippy there is a difference between gender and sex. I think we all agree that men and women are physically different. Gender is about what male/female roles are expected/exhibited.
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I was going to say that aswell, but I'm glad you said it first. Now I can say it too, and won't be a douche?

American Psychology Association
Glossary of Psychological Terms
From Gerrig, Richard J. & Philip G. Zimbardo. Psychology And Life, 16/e
Published by Allyn and Bacon, Boston, MA. Copyright (c) 2002 by Pearson Education.
Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

Gender - A psychological phenomenon that refers to learned sex-related behaviors and attitudes of males and females.

Gender identity - One's sense of maleness or femaleness; usually includes awareness and acceptance of one's biological sex.

Gender roles - Sets of behaviors and attitudes associated by society with being male or female and expressed publicly by the individual.

Also, read any introductory psychology textbook for the same info.
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Also nature "over" nurture or any apparent opposition between nature and nurture is a misnomer.

Taking the 'vs.' out of nature vs. nurture
Evolutionary and cultural psychologists found common ground at a first-ever conference.


November 2004, Vol 35, No. 10
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Hmmm. non-duality in biology and psychology. No separation between "nature and nurture" but one seemless causal continuum. Pst. Hint, hint, nudge, nudge. Clue, pointer, etc...
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Ryan, I can see you really haven't improved after all. It's a shame. I was looking forward to your promised self-imposed exile.

This school is not raising kids as "genderless". It's simply not providing the kids with any guidance on what their gender roles should be. It's something that's been going on in small measure for a while, and doesn't really seem that startling.
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ted I don't think anyone is making that mistake. Is that a footnote because harassment is your main purpose?

"Once mature, a person prefers substance to appearance, fruit to flowers." - Lao Tzu
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Sorry, Ryan, but I don't make up excuse-posts to express my frustration. I'm sorry if you feel like it's harassment - I really am - but it's tiresome to have to scroll past long, uninteresting paragraphs of text referring to links that nobody will visit, or quotes that are not relevant to the topic at hand. Neatorama is not a place for pseudo-scholarly debate. It's a place for neat and interesting stuff. The comments are not a place to overload with reams of information that is barely germane to the topic.

And that's it for me. If you want to pursue your pointless endeavour of posting bloated, largely ignored comments that are simply filling up Alex's storage room on the Neatorama servers, be my guest. I ignored you before, and I will go back to ignoring you again. I'll send you the bill when the scroll button on my mouse wears out.

As for this topic, the entire post describes the school as "genderless", and makes reference to the "genderless" baby in Canada. Dougert pretty much made the best comment here: kids will do what they do no matter what we tell them they should.
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I didn't realize Ted was the Neatorama moderator.

Are you afraid of ACTUAL information? Because I don't see how Ryan is hurting anyone. You seem fine with comments calling these kids freaks just for not having gendered toys or books. How about you just deal with someone else posting something on the INTERNET of all places, because from over here, you sound really mad.
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I have a 2 1/2 year old daughter. We are teaching her that there are differences between boys and girls. We also encourage her to participate in play traditionally thought of as 'boyish'. Ignoring what you are isn't going to help you succeed. Ignoring those limitations others place on you will.
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Ted isn't removing Ryan's posts, he is just responding to them, therefore he isn't moderating. What he is doing is pointing out the nature Ryan's anal-retentive long-winded soapbox-mounted posts. Also if you reread Ted's post you will see he said "I'm not sure they'll turn into freaks of nature because of this.", and not "I am positive these test tube nursed abominations will become freaks just like their parents.”

I for one welcome our gender neuter child overlords.
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There are other ways to teach about gender equality and orientation equality without denying the fact that there is gender or orientation identity in the first place. I just took a stance on this on my own blog.
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Well that's interesting; an eliminativist would say that the Child has no "Wants". A "want" is völkerpsychologie (folk psychology) and yes they actually use German a lot of times to describe it.

Instead they would talk about imprinting effects and neuroplasticity. They would recognize that "wants" are merely phenomenal effects of brain-modelling. Feral children provide a good example of how imprinting affects a child's "wants".

But, without any genuine understanding, I can see how "kids will do what they want" is a profound analysis...
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Here is a much better description of behavior according to folk psychology (Parsimony Argument):

If S believes that if p, then (q unless S does x); and S desires that not-q; and S does not believe that if p and S does x, then something r will be the case such that S desires not-r more than S desires that p; etc.; then, ceteris paribus, probably S will do x.


But still doesn't tell us what a "belief" is or "desires". Those are taken for granted in this argument.
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Back to synaptogenesis, I posted something about it earlier. The infant brain has an over-abundance of synapses, approx. 4x the amount of the adult brain. This is precisely for facilitating imprinting. The child's brain will be stimulated by the environment, by role modelling and what-not, and that stimulation will activate specific neural pathways that re-present the value-system in the environment. Subsequently, there is not enough Neual Growth Factor (NGF) or Brain-Derived Neural Growth Factor (BDNF) or other Neurotrophins to feed the entire over-sized brain, so some 75% of it is "pruned" away. Leaving the child with what should be the rudiments of a psyche congruent with it's environment. In other words the child's brain is like a sponge, ready to soak up any values it comes in contact with, but this feature is only temporary, afterwards the child will not know the difference between it's own cognitive structure and the objective world.

A similar over-production of synapses (synaptogenesis) occurs in adolescence, but primarily in the frontal lobes which function as the executive of the brain. This explains teenage behavior (Geidd).
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It's probably worthwhile to mention that there is a difference between gender and sex: gender is a socially constructed concept, whereas sex is a physical reality. Having a vagina may mean that women are statistically less competent when it comes to solving problems involving spacial relations than their male counterparts, it does not mean that they have to be submissive, emotional, illogical, domestic, or have any other traits that society attributes to women.

So at this point it's probably self-evident that I support the idea behind this preschool and hope that it provides promising results.
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