Boys and Girls: Superheroes in the Doll Corner Essay

The article seemed to be a way for the teacher to learn something about her students that she never really understood before; at the end she realized the difference between telling and acting. I believe the article was broken into three sections: boys and guns, rules of play, and Franklin. I do not believe “Girls” should be in the title of the article. The story was almost completely surrounded with boys, using girls as side notes every other paragraph. The girls were no more than a comparison to the opposite side of the boys. The doll corner does make sense with the Franklin story though. Yet, I feel the entire article makes these children look like teenagers. The writer gives credit, where I feel, could not be obtained through maturity yet.

The first section of the article talked about why the door was being closed. It was closed for the boys, sometimes the girls, were being too loud. Mostly the boys were running around and shooting off pretend guns at each other, while the girls played in the doll corner. I disagree completely with the way the teacher handled this first part of the article. My personal rule is no guns or gunplay or any type of killing or hurting play allowed, ever! The students asked the teacher why they were asked to be quiet while inside. The teacher said gunplay was too loud and involved too much running. She did mention that killing should not happen in school. I guess that makes it okay after school?

Next, when students asked why they could not bring the pretend guns outside she simply said, “If you’re holing something and you fall, you could get hurt.” She stated running inside…”the boys have more self-control.” Either way, boys will be boys and will run! Why is there no talk of violence? The teacher says, “The children know it is all magical play….The ability to imagine something is the magic; putting it into action is the play; playing it out is the safe way to discharge the idea.” What is the teacher thinking?

She earlier says that in the community “social pressure weighs heavily against guns.” This is a great community idea, yet where is the teacher to support it? These young children, I feel, may understand they are not actually dying; yet they enjoy the game and who is to say they will not want to play that game when they are older and more mature. Children who get the wrong ideas at a young age are more likely to make wrong decisions when older.

Lastly on this first part, the teacher opens the door when the children open it. This shows me that the children are controlling the classroom. Open-ended play is great and children should be able to do what they please, but someone has to have some control over the classroom or nothing positive will come out in the end. The first part of this article shows me that a classroom of spoiled brats will come from this room or the boys will all end up in jail.

Next, the rules of play and again I feel the teacher needs more schooling. The rules are no more than common sense that even a child understands. Rule one: “a player or group of players may not disturb other players.” Simply stated, that is the golden rule. I understand that would be harder for the boys; when all they do is gunplay, the object is to disturb everyone else by killing them. I get the idea here that the teacher lets the boys steal from the girls as part of their play. That seems to stop the girls’ play and have no fairness value. The teacher seems to be very favorable to the boys, as seen in rule two and three.

Rule two: “the girls do not share space and materials as well as the boys.” Rule three: “Boys do, of course, run more-much more.” The teacher makes the boys seem rowdier yet more giving and willing to share. Common sense…boys will run more.

Rule four, only to boys: “no grabbing, pushing, punching, or wrestling.” I guess that means girls are perfect angels. The teacher is very stereotypical towards gender: girls run and girls can be just as violent as boys.

Lastly, she talks a little of the girls in her comparison of Cinderella and cops and robbers. The games both may have running in them, but Cinderella teaches a better lesson at the end about true love; selfishness of the stepsisters was not main idea Walt Disney was aiming for.

Finally the last section of the article, Franklin and his mood swings. At the beginning the girls are mentioned as letting the boys play along, if only one or two join their doll corner. She states here, Franklin is okay pretending to be a dad or a guest. At the art table, Franklin is again a well-rounded student, who plays very well and shares. The teacher states that Franklin “would do admirable well in all categories.” She urges him to the block area for she knows the story changes here.

In the block area Franklin does not share anything with the other boys. He has his own idea and that idea is unchangeable. The other boys leave. The teacher then tries to explain that he should share and be open to others’ ideas. This is useless and Franklin continues with his building. I like the next idea the teacher has.

She makes a play out of Franklin by pretending to be him and putting him on the spot. Franklin just laughs.

The article gives no data on Franklin or why the block area is different. The only good from the reading was the lesson that the teacher learned, “‘Pretend’ disarms and enchants; it suggests heroic possibilities for making changes, just as in the fairy tales.” She learns that telling the boys what to do does not sink in to them, asking them to pretend to be good works as a reversal method of motivating them to do good.

In reference to the Theory and Guidance of Play class, I feel this teacher in the article needs to attend and review the material learned. The teacher here seemed to use a sociodramtical approach to teach Franklin a lesson. The teacher also used too much of a hands-off approach when allowing the boys to use guns as play. She intervened with the children’s play a little, yet did not seem to direct what they were doing, just simply try to much to involve herself in the play. The teacher should read over what Smilansky has to say about play and realize that play is related to social and cognitive development; guns should not be allowed and boys and girls should not be gender typed. I did like the way she used the story of the fox to try to teach a lesson; this was a good example of Isenberg and Jalongo’s creative drama play. By letting the children act out the story, she tried to place them in roles similar to their own characteristics; story drama. Letting the boys play with guns may cause a problem according to Roskos and Neuman, who state, “Children may act as they have observed adults perform in real life.”

Overall the article seemed very prejudice and boy-oriented. The teacher learned a lesson, which is good, yet as teachers, the students should be the ones doing the learning.