A kindergarten teacher in Bainbridge Island, Washington has actively decided to deny her male students the opportunity to play with LEGO blocks in order to encourage her female students to play with them.
Teacher Karen Keller forbids the boys in her class from playing with the toys, even going so far as to lie to them about their opportunity to play.
“I always tell the boys, ‘You’re going to have a turn’ — and I’m like, ‘Yeah, when hell freezes over’ in my head,” Keller said to the Bainbridge Island Review.
Keller has enacted this because she noticed boys in her class gravitating toward the blocks during their “free choice” play time, while the girls flocked to dolls and crayons. Keller’s solution was to forbid the boys from playing with them in order to encourage the girls to play with them. Her interview in the Bainbridge Island Review, notably, has offered zero indication of how Keller has gotten the girls to play with something of which they have no interest.
According to The Review, Keller had tried to persuade the girls by giving them pink and purple LEGOs, “But it wasn’t enough.” Keller demanded a grant from her school (which she was given) to purchase Lego Education Community Starter Kits for 3 classrooms at the Captain Johnston Blakely Elementary school and did so without mentioning that the male students would be excluded.
“I just feel like we are still so far behind in promoting gender equity,” Keller said.
Journalist Ashe Schow was quoted as saying, “Now, if Keller had done some additional research, she might have learned that in the past decade, girls have been catching up to boys in math and science skills and have surpassed boys in many other skills. In fact, a study from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a French think-tank, found that teenage boys are 50 percent more likely than girls to fail at achieving basic proficiency in math, reading and science. Boys are also behind girls in literacy skills.
Overall, boys are ahead of girls in math (by an equivalent of about three months of schooling), about even with girls in science and a year behind girls in reading.”
Blakely Elementary Principal Reese Ande stated that the school does not “promote access or opportunity through any forms of exclusion” and that Keller is “a passionate teacher who cares deeply for each and every one of her students.”