Social Stereotypes in the Playground

I have a learning partner at school, someone with whom I must discuss challenges posed by the teacher, and create – amongst other nuggets of learning – pointilism pictures. This partner changes weekly according to a random draw of named lollipop sticks. This week for the first time in 2 and a half years, I was matched with my best friend. After hurling myself across the table in ecstaticness , I reflected on the somewhat different process used for allocating playground partners, and the possible reasons.

My playground partner (the person I line up with when we come back in) is Derek*. He’s ok, but he’s a boy – he can be painful. Arabella has to line up with Frank – he’s the same. Frank and Derek like to play together, but often fall out and fight. Sigourney’s match is Malcolm. Throw him into the mix and and someone invariably gets injured.

Playground fighting
Boys and tomboys

Now, my point is this: Sigourney, Arabella and I like to play together. We are friends. We chat nicely and keep our clothes and hair tidy. But we have been banned from standing anywhere near each other in the playground line. Why? Well, because Derek, Frank and Malcolm cannot be trusted to behave responsibly together, so we girls have to keep an eye on them; keep them apart and out of trouble. Just like Mummy and her friends do with our Dads.

"Victorian School Girls"
Nice girls (ahem)

Stereotyping begins at a young age, don’t you think?

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent 😉

Playground fight photo by Flickr user Supadave. Prim and proper schoolgirls by Sevington Victorian School

11 thoughts on “Social Stereotypes in the Playground”

  1. Dear GG

    Interesting thoughts, but what you are missing is the second side to the story. What you fail to see is that us handsome young buck males are placed between you flitty females in the line to give the poor teacher a break from your constant chat chat chatting and tireless giggling. Do you think she really wants to hear about who you are hopesly in love with, which friend double crossed you by walking to the classroom with another girl or which plastic monster your gonna by next? NO Thats where we come into play, our broad shoulders building a wall to block your dancing voices.

    Anyways I could continue, but dont want to upset all the fairer sex as I do plan to marry one day, though clearly like my dad I will have to escape to the pub as often as possible to give my poor ears a rest.

    Ever your handsome young buck
    Little Rhino x

  2. Getting children to line up isn’t very easy. I always have a strict boy- girl policy with a sensible child at the front and back. It does the job. It may be stereotyping but it also takes children away from their friends so stops chatter. If I have a particularly unruly class I do this throughout class life and have a place for children on the carpet and on their tables.
    If they’re doing a chatting activity or drama then I’ll let them go in friendship groups as that works better and when I worked in a school with lots of children wi english as a second language then I’d put them with someone else who spoke the same home language sometimes.
    It’s just one of those things that has to be done. If only everyone in class could be good and follow the rules then they’d be no need for draconian measures!

    • Ouch! You are one tough teacher Rebecca 😉 I think that must be exactly what GG’s school does then. Maybe Rhino is right then and tey’re really doing it to split up the disruptive girls! I wouldn’t say GG is perfect by any means – the ‘nice girl’ pic was def tongue in cheek! Thanks for the rational explanation. 😀

      • Think I’ve just had a few challenging classes. The girls = good stereotype is so interesting. Girls seem to find school and rules easier, I wonder why that is. Molly is horrified and worried by the children being naughty in class. She has her naughty moments of course but never in class. She comes home with tales of what the others get up to and it does worry her.
        By the way yes boys can be painful – not much improvement as they grow older unfortunately.

    • This is exactly how I used to sort my groups or lines. It was the only way to stop the girls chatting/arguing and the boys from winding each other up! It works well, although the children don’t always like it. Whatever works!

      • Thank you – I know this is what they are doing (actually I checked with Mrs Feisty when Rebecca first commented) and really it’s fine. I just thought it was quite funny when GG told me her take on it. Her friends aren’t really called arabella and sigourney either – just trying to make them sound pretentious!

  3. You’re so right, as ever, GG. I think gender stereotyping starts even earlier, with pink and blue babygros, but the nature/nurture debate is really interesting -I developed my love of shoes all on my own, with no encouragement from Mummy.

    Glad you finally got paired with your best friend.


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