With our first baseline evaluations under our belt, B and I headed out last week to our second pilot school: Archbishop Sumner Church of England Primary School in Kennington.
I have now reached the waddling-and-puffing stage of pregnancy, and I couldn’t blame the kids for seeming slightly distracted by my giant bump and constant snacking.
We made some improvements based our first round of evaluations: a £1.99 phone tripod bought on Clapham High Street, an improvised tower of board games to sit the tripod on (the kids kept kicking the table), and a very wise decision to cut yours truly out of the shots.
Once again, the interviews surprised us. Sadly, we weren’t too shocked that most of the children said that some jobs are just for men and others are just for women, that boys are stronger than girls, or that it would be strange for girls to play with trucks or for boys to play house. What was interesting were the explanations for some of these answers:
Why don’t the girls play sports at playtime? Because the boys take the good ball and only the purple deflated ball is left. We heard a LOT about this ball.
Has anyone intentionally given girls the bad ball to discourage them from playing sports? Of course not. But this class seems to have perceived sports as a boy thing, and so the boys get the first pick of ball.
It won’t shock anyone that a number of pupils responded that girls are supposed to care what they look like more than boys do. When we asked why, pupils tended to say that girls want to be beautiful, but there was more confusion about whether boys also want to be handsome. One girl said that boys don’t care about that stuff; “they just care about playing!”. We wished they all just cared about playing, or saw dressing up as a kind of playing, rather than something they were supposed to do.
As the pilot goes on, it will be really interesting to hear more about the pressures boys feel, and about how freely they are able to express themselves on a range of topics.
Clearly, there is a complex web of factors influencing what kids think it means to be a girl or boy. These have to do with the media, marketing, class, race, religion, random life events, and a slew of other inputs. But could a few small changes cut through this complexity? What if the boys had to turn over the good ball for a week?
Janeen and Bilkis