Sunday 25 June 2017

This is why fairytales are coming under scrutiny in Australian schools

By Prudence Wade

Do they conform to damaging gender stereotypes?

If you were under the impression that fairytales were innocent stories for kids, then you should probably think again – at least, according to this new programme in Australia.

The Respectful Relationship programme in Victoria doesn’t necessarily want to cut fairytales out of the curriculum, but to encourage children to analyse the stories more closely and consider gender bias within them.

The main issue it holds with fairytales is the outdated gender stereotypes they often conform to. The Herald Sun quoted a programme teaching aid that says the stories further “a sense of entitlement in boys and lower self-esteem in girls”.

This doesn’t spell the end of Hans Christian Anderson in schools; instead, the programme wants teachers to encourage children to act as “fairytale detectives” to “describe and compare the roles commonly given to male and female characters” and to “identify gendered messages fairytales give readers”.

Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews has come under fire for his perceived war on fairytales, but he has dismissed this as false.

The Respectful Relationship program was set up by the government to address gender-based violence.

It says: “A good education is about more than simply getting good marks. It is about becoming a member of society and succeeding in life – knowing how to build respectful relationships is key to achieving this.”

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