Mistakes are cropping up in the learning modules being distributed to millions of basic education students by the Department of Education. Some of these are simple typographical errors; others are more serious errors of fact.
We know about these because people take photos of the errors and post them on social media. Education officials have encouraged this practice so that errors may be addressed.
But some errors are more glaring and deep-seated than others.
For example, some modules ask the students to distinguish between toys that are for girls and those that are for boys. The “correct” answers would be that dolls or kitchen≠≠ equipment would be apt for girls, while cars, tops, guns would be appropriate for boys.
Another page lists down the characteristics of males and females. Males are strong, decisive, assertive, independent, active. Females, on the other hand, are weak, passive, dependent.
This brings us back to books from decades past when the mother of a family was portrayed as the primary housekeeper—cooking meals, keeping the home clean, and caring for the children. She took her daughter under her wing and trained her to perform the chores expected of her.
Meanwhile, the father worked to earn a living, and his tasks at home were limited, say, to carpentry. He also enlisted the help of his son.
More than anything else, the most glaring error here is the conditioning of young people’s minds that toys, chores, qualities and opportunities will be available to them by the mere virtue of their gender.
It could have been true in the past. We do not fault generations that came before us for being guided by these conventions—they are a product of their time and could not have imagined the situation any other way.
But in this day and age, educators, parents and the society as a whole should consciously discard the stereotypes that have governed our view or men and women. Any child should be able to play with any toy that he or she wants. Children of both sexes should be trained to do housework without distinction as to who does what; housework shows discipline and consideration for others, and is blind to whether one is male or female. Students can take up any course they want or dream of any career they can imagine themselves doing. The only determinant is whether they have the skills and the diligence for it—gender should never be an issue.
That some of us could be stuck in this line of thinking could be the reason for the inequities that persist to this day. This is why men earn more than women do for the same amount and quality of work. This is why men have more opportunities to go out into the world—they are not saddled with responsibilities at home. Finally, this is why men are able to get away with abuse and indiscretion—because women are expected to be “weak, passive and dependent.”
We need to give our young the information and guidance they deserve. More than the individual lessons for each subject, let us teach them that they can be whatever they want to be.