Maths for girls or boys

New maths textbooks are on the market in Germany: Specifically for boys (blue, mud, football, technology, quads, pirates) and specifically for girls (pink, ponies, angels, flowers, ballet, jewelry). Witches in the boys’ books are strong, dynamic, and dominant and get eaten by monsters. In the girls’ books the witches are friendly, charming, and demure and enjoy their peace and quiet.

But the publisher PONS (not currently a leading player in the German textbook publishing market) is not at all trading in old stereotypes here. Nono. It’s all about facilitating learning and letting young boys and girls work on tasks which genuinely interest them.

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The problem is, I think PONS is probably right. Many young learners are so thoroughly embedded in current dominant versions of girlness and boyness that they really will enjoy these tasks more and probably put more effort into maths.

The long-term consequences of these differential subjectivations, though… Female scientists and engineers? Strong dynamic women? Males childcarers and nurses? If they enjoyed these maths tasks, perhaps they’ll have less enthusiasm for “new” roles? Or perhaps those who are enthusiastic will have to work harder than ever to overcome gender norms. Or maybe the kids take it all with a pinch of salt and are much more street-wise than we wise adults think.


One Comment to “Maths for girls or boys”

  1. why not put both books together & let the kids choose which puzzles they want to work with? Better still let some boys hug each other & some girls fight with pretend weapons!

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