So I was chatting to a dad in a coffee shop today and it seems I’m not the only one who’s spending some time thinking about how society treats little boys. My Tatty Bumpkin sessions take me into a lot of settings and in all of them you hear the same moans about boys being so active / wriggly / noisy / competitive etc as if these qualities are unpleasant. Having two very wriggly boys myself it saddens me as I hadn’t thought of their wriggleness as negative (tiring, oh yes but not negative).
It strikes me, and there is much written about this from Sue Palmer to Steve Biddulph, books about gender and reading, gender and literacy / schooling etc, that it is the institutions which aren’t really geared up for small boys. Often this is a question of goverment policy or economics – the sheer ration of adults to children means that there isn’t really the capability to have children running noisily around so girls generally more sedate, calm and co-operate behaviour works well in these settings and is encouraged.
There is also the issue that many of these environments are driven by woman and that we don’t always understand the needs of small boys. I am only just beginning to work out some of the stereotypes I had set – a recent revelation was that it is not so much that boys are competitive, wanting to win and be first, as that they need the challenge of e.g. racing with other boys to push themselves to their limits.
Anyway, those are my thoughts for tonight but be careful not to be too deprecating yourself about boys natural attitudes and abilities!