How does one find the calm happy place to write when all around are stressful situations? I suppose for some writing is an escape, indeed it is for me also. However in order to get to the happy place, one surely must have a degree of calm? ‘Sigh’, maybe that is why so many people write murders, and thrillers, let the ink spill onto the pages giving a wonderful feeling of catharsis. I find I often doodle in times of stress, which would be lovely if they were fabulous doodle’s that would lead to my fortune. Such as those found in Tom Gates books. They are not I hasten to add, they are mostly indecipherable squiggles! The same goes for my writing, I would love to know what a graphologist would say about my loops and swirls. I usually find I get to the supermarket and can’t decipher what I have written on the list, and so have to browse the clothes section instead. Ah now see I’m beginning to think happy thoughts….All I needed was to divert my thoughts, time to go shopping, thanks for listening!
I was asked to write a short puppet show, for under 5’s this would have been ok except I have never seen a puppet show, I haven’t ever written a script and the puppets were all animals. Oh and there was no background or scenery. Still always up for a challenge I set to with pen and paper, and a pair of Marigolds on my hands to simulate puppet action.
Finally I came up with something that I thought was acceptable, filled with various repetitive phrases, and sent it off for its first airing!
The show was performed today with great gusto! And I’m pleased to announce that it went well. Huge sigh of relief on my behalf. ‘That’s The Way To Do It.’
Today is Fathers Day, I’m sure you all know that! Anyway we were besieged by offers from the local newspaper, various social media sites and the local radio, for Fathers Day meals in various settings with various combinations such as a free drink with lunch or a free desert with lunch etc. You get the idea. So we ignored all of that and decided to buy some bacon and some rolls and mix the two together in some sort of brunch thingy. Then in between the heavy showers we took the children to the park.
My point is this, I thought we would be the only ones there, however there were lots of other Dads with their families enjoying time with their children, drying off the slide with hanky’s and wiping swing seats with sleeves, in order that their children might have some fun time outside. This was heartening indeed!! I’m happy to report we are now home and Dad is enjoying a beer after all that simultaneous pushing he did two children two swings, one wife watching proudly on.
Is there a gender bias in children’s TV? Officially not I’m sure, however when watching CBeebies for the umpteenth time I realised that many of the programmes are biased towards boys, and have boys as the central character. We have Tommy Zoom, Baby Jake, Octonauts, Mike the Knight and Tree Foo Tom to name but a few. There are many other programmes aimed at both sexes but interestingly they have men in the title, such as Old Jack’s Boat, or Grandpa In My Pocket. Other shows such a Rhyme Rocket, Iconicles, Mr Maker and Mr Bloom’s Nursery all have only male presenters. And there are the cartoon shows that also have the same such as Postman Pat, Kola Brothers, Rastamouse and Driver Dan’s Story Train. Not to mention Get Well Soon with a male doctor!
So I started to think about the influence of these programmes on young children, would there be a difference in attitudes likes and dislikes? Would there be a difference in play or behaviour? Does a gender bias affect how children perceive male and female roles?
Research suggests that it does, that children internalise certain behaviours as the norm. Social Learning Theory suggests that there are a set of learning principles the three main ones being observation, reinforcement and imitation, in acquiring their concept of gender. However the Cognitive Development model suggests that children will categorise themselves and others depending on their environment and that television can be used as a source of information as to how they fit into that role. Although studies on children without television show them to be less stereotyped in the gender roles.
Nevertheless television only plays a very small part of our children’s lives, they have many other influences to help them make sense of the world and it is our role to ensure that they soak us as many experiences as we can offer. Right then back to CBeebies!
Today I was playing Lego with my son, I was helping him sort out his mini figures, he had swapped their heads etc.! and I realised that all his figures were male, why isn’t there any girls/woman figures I wondered, so off I went to Google. I found that Lego do now have pink sets that are named Lego friends, the figures are a slightly different size and the sets are created around five key characters living in Heartlake City. Lego have been hugely criticised for gender stereotyping role-play. Indeed I wondered why they just couldn’t introduce some mini figures with girl faces such as a doctor, scientist or policewoman? Yet their sets are more geared towards Batman, Indiana Jones and Chima anthropomorphic (creatures). I started to look further into the role of gender as a social construct. Why do we insist on knowing the sex of our babies in the womb, is it so that we can decorate the nursery in pink or blue? We can start to order their lives as a girl or a boy, buy ‘boy’ toys (traditionally more noisy, colourful toys or ‘girl’ toys often in pastel colours and softer to touch.) There was a huge move away from gender roles in the early 80’s and yet we seem to have crept right back to ‘Peter and Jane’ from our Ladybird days.
If we take a look at what children are reading today we can see that again many books certainly those aimed at 7 years up seem to have a particular theme, there are many adventure/thriller books such as Artemis Fowl, Shapeshifters, H.I.V.E all who’s central characters are boys. For the girls there are Rainbow Fairies, My sister is a Vampire, and of course the books written by Jacqueline Wilson again largely written for girls. However many books break the gender mould in that the central character displays traits that are usually stereotyped such as braveness in girls and fear in boys. So are children influenced by what they read/play? Of course they will be to a degree if we continue to bring up our little ones with the thought that girls like pink (anything pink) dolls, animals, fairytales, role play etc., and that boys are much more into adventure toys such as action figures, monsters, dragons and pirates.
We as parents need to make sure that we introduce balance into our children’s lives after all in the 1920’s boys were dressed in pink and girls in blue as pink was seen as a strong colour, a derivative of red. So lets not shy away from gender neutral toys/clothes/books and games lets embrace our children’s future break down barriers and give them equality of opportunity.