The Respectful Relationships program aims to address gender stereotypes.
Could treasured fairytales be at risk of censorship in schools or, perhaps worse, be eliminated from the curriculum altogether? Is this going a step too far?
A Victorian Government plan to address family violence could see beloved fairytales ‘watered down’ to help educate children about issues such as sexism and family violence.
Not only is Baa Baa Black Sheep already being referred to as Baa Baa Rainbow Sheep in schools, but soon we may also see Snow White holding the sword.
The Respectful Relationships program will mean that traditional fairytales, such as Cinderella, Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty, as well as children’s toys, go under the microscope, to see whether they promote gender stereotypes learned as young as four years old.
The program argues that some fairytales may reinforce gender norms which, in turn, create ‘a sense of entitlement in boys and lower self-esteem in girls’.
The learning aid states: ‘Analyses of popular books have found that central characters are more likely to be male, female characters are more often in nurturing roles, and occupations are gender-stereotyped’.
At first glance, one may say that this is yet another example of a Nanny State running rampant. But upon closer inspection, it’s not all that bad.
The program, recommended by the family violence royal commission, simply aims to teach students how to read critically, giving them the ability to question the stories they read and the videos they watch and encouraging them to be more inclusive.
Although there is much speculation that Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is attempting to ban fairytales in classrooms, Mr Andrews says that’s simply not the case.
“We are very much in favour of kids reading stories and then sitting down and talking about them,” said Mr Andrews.
“It is called learning.
“Learning is about reading books and talking about them, it is a proper thing to do, it is not new.”
He added that children’s stereotypical attitudes towards women should be challenged at a young age.
“I think there are lots of attitudes formed in many different ways over a long period of time,” said Mr Andrews.
“Those attitudes are, in aggregate, leading to some really bad outcomes for women.
“We have to challenge that and do everything we possibly can. But the notion the Government is banning fairytales is just a fairytale itself.”
One Melbourne teacher disagrees with the program, saying that students were too young to understand the message anyway.
“I would rather be teaching them how to read, write and count. We really don’t need to crowd out the curriculum with this social engineering.”
Read more about the Respectful Relationships program
Is this going a step too far? Is the program forcing children to learn about gender stereotypes and violence too early, or does it have merit? Should the learning aid also query why we have a male dwarf named Dopey?
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