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A kindergarten teacher in Washington state is refusing to allow boys in her class to play with Legos in the classroom, while the girls are encouraged to use them, reports The Blaze.
Karen Keller, a teacher at Blakely Elementary in Bainbridge Island, Washington, has taken to social experiments in and on her kindergarten classes in attempts to reach what she calls “gender equity.” Keller noticed that during the 40-minute free play time in the classroom, the boys naturally gravitated toward Legos, building blocks, and other STEM-related toys, while the girls wanted to play with dolls and crayons.
“I just feel like we are still so far behind in promoting gender equity,” Keller told the Bainbridge Island Review.
Keller explained to the Bainbridge Island Review that she witnessed her boy students flocked to the building blocks while her girl students played with dolls and crayons and staples, toys that offered them little challenge or opportunity to fail and develop perseverance.
She did her research and concluded that something had to give; her girl students were indeed missing out.
At first, Keller says that she tried to allow for free association with the toys, but as she says, “it wasn’t enough.”
The girls weren’t interested and the boys just expanded their palettes.
The teacher told Bainbridge Island Review that she blames toymakers for reinforcing those roles.
“The stuff LEGO is marketing for girls is just so limiting;” ‘girl’ sets replete with themes such as baking, cooking, care-giving, homemaking, decorating and hair styling — but she also faults teachers for not taking action.
So when Bainbridge Schools Foundation announced its Classroom Enrichment Grants, Keller saw her chance to affect change.
She asked for funding to purchase LEGO Education Community Starter Kits for three Blakely classrooms, writing that “while it’s not necessary to board up the playhouse and adopt the babies out, concrete steps can be taken to ameliorate the gender gap in the kindergarten and present engaging ways to develop girls’ spatial skills.”
What she didn’t tell BSF, however, was that the boys wouldn’t get to play with the new 1,907-piece sets.
“I had to do the ‘girls only Lego club’ to boost it more,” she explained. “Boys get ongoing practice and girls are shut out of those activities, which just kills me. Until girls get it into their system that building is cool, building is ‘what I want to do’ — I want to protect that.”
Keller claims that she sees her social experiments as “fair” because “fair is getting what you need to succeed or to get better.”
She mentioned to the Bainbridge Island Review that fair doesn’t have to be the same, and she says her kindergarteners get that. And while she has seen an uptick in girls participating in Lego play, she claims it is still not the “norm.”
So, according to her, the boys will have to wait.
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