Talking about Race: SLATE
Here is a pretty good, short essay about why white parents should talk about race with their kids, by Melinda Wenner Moyer.
So if children as young as 3 develop racial prejudices when left to their own (cognitively biased) devices, it may help for parents to intervene and, you know, actually talk to their kids about race. “Don’t you want to be the one to suggest to them—early on, before they do form those preconceptions—something positive [about other races] rather than let them pick up something negative?” asks Kristina Olson, a University of Washington psychologist who studies social cognitive development and racial bias. “White parents seem very, very resistant to talking about race—even really liberal ones—and they have this attitude of ‘I wouldn’t want to talk about it because it would make it real to my kids.’ But inevitably, it’s their kids that show these really strong race biases.” In fact, Olson says, when parents don’t talk about race, kids may infer from this silence that race is especially important, yet highly taboo—basically, the last thing you want them to think.
I just found this article by Katy Waldman in Slate, Goldieblox: Great for Girls? Bad for Girls? Or Just Selling Toys?
If you haven’t yet heard of GoldieBlox toy company, check it out here. The aim of the company is to guide girls toward a career in engineering, or at the very least get them away from typical girl toys. While I haven’t had the pleasure of getting my hands on one of the toys, and while the company aims seem at first powerful and legitimate I can’t help but shutter a little at the almost sleazy misappropriation of feminism seen in their video and mission statement, and with it the assumption that girls don’t already utilize home materials, and other toys to satisfy their desire for constructive and creative learning.
I really don’t want to poo-poo on anyones attempt at trying to promote “better” learning for girls (and boys, right?) and while I can even
respect understand, the desire to try and make a buck in the name of feminism, this toy company seems to have missed the mark. In Waldman’s essay she points to many disheartening truths about the toy, and reviewers all seem to agree that while the idea behind the toy is “inspiring” the execution is a, “massive disappointment, Really doesn’t inspire creativity or ‘engineering’ skills, no room for thinking outside the box.” Amazon reviewers.
In the end, if you want to inspire children to be creative and even to directly push them toward a career in engineering it seems your best options remain in your household. Tupperware, tape, boxes, blocks, utensils, etc., all of these things promote spacial reasoning, creativity and may even build future engineers.