Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Puppenecke

When I was a child my parents sent me to a Catholic Kindergarten in Germany. Kindergarten in Germany is not part of school. It is more like a daycare and similar to what Americans refer to as Pre-K. It is usually cheap and affordable for parents since it is mostly funded through the churches. My parents paid a nominal fee for us kids to attend an all day program. Kids could come and go during the day (8 am - 5 pm) for as many hours as parents needed care for their kids.


Now I loved going to Kindergarten. Since life was often tense in my folks' home, Kindergarten was a welcome escape. In the photo you can see my Kindergarten class from 1974. I wonder what happened to all of my little friends from those days.

We were taught to address all our teachers as "Tante" (aunts, since they were all women). I loved most of my Kindergarten aunties. They were loving and sweet and taught us many things. In the photos you can see some original work from my Kindergarten folder. Imagine that! I still got it after all those years - carrying it across continents...

Figure 21. Tischdecken - How to set a table

We learned our German ABCs, colors, numbers and pretty much the same stuff  kids in the US are taught in Preschool programs. But there was ONE thing I hated about my Kindergarten. There were two play areas. One area was equipped with dolls and referred to as the Puppenecke (in translation doll corner). Across from it was a cool play station with cars and train tracks. What really bothered me about Kindergarten was that whenever I wanted to play with the "boy toys" the aunts would tell me that it was reserved for the boys and that I must go over to the doll corner. Gender stereotypes suck. It's not the first time I have written on this subject.

Figure 4. At the candystore - Im Bonbonladen
It's kind of ironic that I grew up to be a doll maker despite these early childhood experiences that didn't exactly inspire me be very fond of dolls. I surely hope that education models have changed since my childhood days in Germany. I like to imagine that all boys get to play with dolls and all girls get to hang out in the train corner and race cars these days.



Looks like I grew up to be a big strong woman. Check out the shoulders in my self-portrait from when I was 6 years old! I still remember that striped sweater, blue skirt, and the high knee socks, of course.


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