This morning, we started playing an online math game that the boys' class back home is playing. It's a virtual world, cleverly cbuilt around the math curriculum expectations for a given grade level, where players work together or individually to complete various challenges by solving math related problems. We're actually just getting started, so although I was excited about the prospect of linking gaming (which the boys love) with the ability to keep connected with their peers from their classroom back home, we're really not far enough into the game yet for me to make any professional judgements, when it comes to academic value.
But we're into it far enough for me to be pissed of already...
No sooner did Alex and Simon register, using the login so generously provided by their teacher, then they were faced with having to categorize themselves by choosing to click one of two buttons in response to this question: "Are you a boy or a girl?"
I could almost feel the steam pouring out of my ears as I thought of every gender biased toy store, movie or picturebook we've worked so hard to avoid or at the very least, think through critically together, in the boys' last nine years.
WHO THE HELL CARES IF THE PLAYERS ARE "BOYS" OR "GIRLS"???!!!
Let me guess -- those who selected "girl" will be offered an array of pink, flashy, "girly" swag to buy with their acquired points in the game, while the "boys" will be offered more "manly" options? Are you kidding me???!!! How can a so-called "educational" game force today's students into the gender binary within minutes of beginning to play?!
I am thinking of three particular students at my school last year who would be befuddled when they came to this screen. All three are transgendered "boys", but while two of them are VERY comfortable with their feminine side (and would probably click on "girl" with little hesitation, given the opportunity), the third has spent his whole life fighting himself and his parents, getting relief only on Halloween, when -- once a year -- he freely dresses as a beautiful, bejewelled, flambouyant woman, as he has done every year.
I know Alex and Simon are fairly firmly rooted where they're "supposed" to be on the gender spectrum, so from a personal perspective, my concerns centred more around the perpetuation of a myth rather than their own personal gender struggle, which I'm pretty sure is non-existent.
But as a public educator, I am perplexed and deeply troubled that in this era of social justice and so-called equity, we are still confronted with widely supported resources for our classroom that so clearly defy everything we are striving to teach our students in the 21 Century.
A few deep breaths, and then I will calm down and find the "feedback" button in the game, and offer the developers a piece of my mind!!!