Enrica Ajo: Why girls are better than boys quite in everything

For our Pedagogical Conference in Paris (Nov, 2012), Enrica Ajo (Italy) came up with this provoking quiff in the form of a testimony or even of a confession. Ajo’s argument relies on the premise that while  «boys tell stories to distract you from discovering who they really are» girls do so in order «to understand what their feelings are». This discussion might trigger some new debates two years later


Why girls are better than boys quite in everything

I made the wrong statement: it is not that  «girls are better than boys quite in everything». I exactly meant: «I prefer girls over boys quite in everything». Well, now that I have corrected my statement maybe I could give up my speech, but I am not sure I could really do that.

When I started teaching for children it was not exactly a way to earn money. I am not able to earn money: there are people who are able and even if my family is half part Jewish I smartly earned some money just when I was seven years old and I stole all the stuff from my mother’s fridge. I made a lot of sandwiches and I sold them to people passing by. I earned some money also when I sold my friend’s toys because their toys were more beautiful than mine because they were wealthier than me. I always earned money over selling somebody else’s stuff and this happened two times: when I was seven years old and in a period from eight to nine. My family is half part Jewish and that part is not rich. Maybe it is the cool part, the joking part, the curly hair part but not the rich part. I always let my family down for my inability to earn money and this is not a joke: this is sad reality. I am still ashamed of being here not earning money at all and I didn’t mention my trip to Paris to my father because I know he would be pointing his big finger against me – You! The fucking-not-earning-money-one!- Anyway, me and my problems with money is the subject of my second speech that is happening tomorrow: for the ones amongst you who love jokes about Jewish people and money. You perfectly know what the rule is: I CAN make jokes because I’ m half part Jewish.

So going back to storytelling: when I began to teach children I did not intend to earn money over them: It was quite more about making experience of what I had never experienced and of what I supposed to love.

I had worked before in miniclubs and junior clubs and all that I had learnt was that things were easier with girls. Girls were able to sit and read. Girls liked colour painting images in books made for this purpose. They loved to créate statements for treasure hauntings.

I could sit all afternoon long with my favourite girl picturing each other’s nails, eating ice creams, looking at the sea as we were the perfect female pirates.

Everything indeed was always so difficult with boys: they were always screaming and hitting each other and when they pretend being Ninja turtles, their dialogues were so inconsistent.

So when I started my own course I tried in different ways to have to teach to girls only. You perfectly understand that when you make this kind of promotional stuff representing a girl (even if in a Game of Thrones pose!) you lose half of your potential target by default.

At the same time offering creative writing courses during summer time, when any child wants to ride horses, swim with crocodiles and sunbathe, you lose the rest of your potential target. Maybe I’ m not a strategist but I showed you how I perfectly know marketing rules and my target: that is why at the beginning of the course we had only one student and it was a girl.

Her name was Camilla and she was about seven years old, quite the age I was when I sold my first sandwiches. Often in my stories characters are around seven years old: maybe it is an unconscious way to try to sell them. She was an only child and she was SO normal. While I was writing about her, I found out about her normality. And this excites me so much that I should maybe change the subject of this so-called-paper (I know that is not a professional one but you have to remember that I quit university!).

Maybe because of this  «normality» do I find girls so intriguing and I often prefer them to boys. I can also find a link with what we were discussing with a friend of mine about Star Wars not long ago. I was confessing that I never saw Top Gun and even if I really appreciate all its mythology, I didn’t like Star Wars numerology either. We ended up with the obvious conclusion that maybe all that stuff was kind of boys stuff and not interesting to girls.

It will be difficult to explain my thought in a language that is not mine but will give it a try. It seems to me that children have opposite way to take part in the world and their role on it when they try to describe it. Male children pretend to be someone else, alter egos, super heroes, different versions of themselves. It sounds like they think they have to be stronger and better and they often tell stories, non-existing ones in non-existing places where incredible and very dangerous things happen. Girls indeed quite always talk about themselves and what is next to them. Sometimes girls use a nickname but it is often very similar to their own name. For example when I was a girl I had this wonderful doll that was exactly like I would want to be once I become an adult: she had got long blonde hair (I had them long and very blonde for more than ten years, until last May) big blue eyes and she was SO perfect. My name is Enrica but I always found it not so feminine so I called my doll Elisa. She was my alter ego and one day she was punched in the face and they broke her. I put her away forever.

This episode I told you about is clearly about female cravings for perfection and our fears about judgement regarding our physical appearance. Girls stories are all about them and their sisters or brothers, parents and always a boy (or a girl!) they are in love with or who is their best friend. Their aim is try to understand what their feelings are. They want you to know why they love, or hate, people. They want you to know why they dress in a certain way, why their kitchens are so beautiful and comforting and nothing is going stop them until you perfectly understand which their favourite flower is and why. They describe to make you understand and love.

While it seems to me that boys tell stories to distract you from discovering who they really are. I consider girls not  «special» in themselves but in the way they look at the world and people. I find their way more interesting because I think that fantasy and invention have no limits but real life has them, and I am more interested in real life than in something that maybe will never exist and no one cares for after all.