The Great Divide

9 May

I was walking out of my kids’ preschool the other day with another mom. She has two kids 15 months apart (bless her). Her younger son, Jonathan, is in Molly’s room and the older one, Noah, is in Pre-K. We were chatting about our kids and work and how we’re always running late. Then we got to talking about the intervention I’m involved in at ASU. I was telling her how we’re trying to increase contact and positive experiences between boys and girls in hopes of bringing kids together who, at this stage, are beginning to spend more and more time apart. At this point she stops walking and says to me,

paper chain close up by stitchlily

paper chain close up by stitchlily

You know, that’s so interesting…. I swear, just now, when I dropped off Noah, it looked as if the teacher had said, ‘Girls over here – Boys over there.’ The kids were all so into making these paper chains, but the girls were all standing around the teacher turning them into bracelets and earrings, and the boys were all off on the other side of the room tying each other up! I don’t even think I noticed at first – everyone was just having fun. It’s funny how you can walk into a classroom, see everyone working happily, and not really think about that division.

It is funny, isn’t it? I know I don’t always see it at first. But it is happening. It’s happening in the classrooms and on the playgrounds -”The Great Divide.” And even when it appears that kids are playing with other gender friends, the quality of the interaction is far different than when they are engaged with a same gender peer.  Wouldn’t it be great if boys and girls could play together for longer stretches of time, and with a higher level of engagement, just as they do with friends of the same gender?

So why is it that we don’t notice? Or do we notice, but don’t think much of it? Maybe it’s because we’ve come to expect it. Are we just dismissing this grouping as “kids being kids?” If kids were segregating themselves by race, ethnicity or religion, I don’t think I would be so quick to accept that as “kids being kids.” Segregation is exclusion, and exclusion is a practice I don’t want to see practiced. How about you?

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5 Responses to “The Great Divide”

  1. Joy Feldman May 9, 2011 at 3:05 pm #

    I wish my mother had this insight. It would have prevented so many bad decisions on my part. I can’t think of a better way to teach positive communication between genders – a lifelong gift!

    • superheroprincess May 12, 2011 at 11:29 am #

      That’s definitely the idea. Start early to help kids develop positive communication and relationship skills.
      Thanks for the comment!

  2. RR May 10, 2011 at 6:22 pm #

    I was trying to recall at what age the “great divide” starts. I guess it is around age 3 because my 3 1/2 year old son is very clear when he tells me what toy, game, plate, color or clothes are for girls or boys.
    I am ashamed to admit but I take full responsibility for the “great divide” and I am wondering how I can undue it.

    • superheroprincess May 12, 2011 at 11:34 am #

      No shame! This is a shame free zone! No one is to blame. This is just what kids do. It’s completely cognitively and developmentally appropriate. Check out my next post. I’ll be writing more about categorizing and labeling.
      Thanks for posting your comment. 🙂

    • Claudiu February 6, 2012 at 7:40 pm #

      .Why do you think so?This child has been payling with a doll ever since she came but this child (my son in a pony tail) does not even give dolls a second glance. I could not explain why it was so. i had no role in making him want to climb grills and scale walls. He did it naturally. And with all the male attire her mother forced my friend’s child to wear she was a natural when it came to payling with dolls.

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