In groups, we read through some traditional fairy tales, highlighting elements that might give young children impressions about what girls and/or boys "should" be like. One person from each group then rotated round the groups teaching them about the story and the messages in it. At the end of the lesson we looked for any common themes, identifying things like "girls are only valuable if they're beautiful", "men are only good husbands if they are rich princes" and "women should just wait around for a man to save them if they get in trouble". My favourite piece of reflection at the end of the lesson was one pupil, who commented that "I was in a play of Beauty and the Beast last year at Primary School, and I didn't even think about what we were telling the younger pupils in our school about women."
Here are some of the messages my year 7 class discovered in traditional fairy stories: