According to an academic article written by an Australian professor, small chairs in preschools are “problematic” because they’re “disempowering” for teachers.
“In my first intra-active encounter with the small chair, I felt that it talked back to me about the preschool as a workplace that is gendered, feminsed, child-focused and ultimately disempowering,” Monash University senior lecturer Jane Bone writes in an article for the journal Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, titled “Ghosts of the material world in early childhood education: Furniture matters.”
The article, highlighted for its stupidity by the Twitter account New Real Peer Review, continues:
The small chair passes on a very important commandment to teachers: “Thou shalt not sit down,” — you are here to work and, like women in retail, hospitality, and catering, and at home, you will run around after others and not focus on what you might need for yourself.
The abstract for Bone’s article may insist “that the small chair is a contentious and ambiguous artefact” that it is “problematic when considered from different perspectives” and that it “both supports and betrays the body/ies that are in contact with it,” but I’ve got to say that I’ve just never felt betrayed by a chair.
The paper also theorizes that “early childhood education is haunted by the dead white males who still whisper their theories in the classrooms of the present, and inhabit the thoughts and conceptualisations about children of their lives.”
I have never felt a deep psychological connection to a piece of furniture.
I’m not sure exactly what Bone is suggesting here. Stop teaching anything that was pioneered by any “dead white males”? Just so she doesn’t worry about children feeling haunted by their ghosts? Then again, I’m not exactly sure what she’s suggesting with the chairs, either. To build bigger ones? Because I’m pretty sure that would be a very non-environmentally friendly waste of plastic and metal, all for the sake of reducing the risk to people who might have their feelings hurt by furniture, which I’d wager is probably a pretty small percentage.
Bone’s paper was previously covered in an article on the College Fix.
— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online.