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Disrupting Gendered Pedagogies in the Early Childhood Classroom

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April Larremore

Young children’s access to knowledge about gender, relationships, and sexuality has critical implications for their health and well-being, not only in their early years but throughout their lives. This knowledge can build children’s competencies and resilience, contributing to new cultural norms of non-violence in gendered and sexual relationships. For many early childhood teachers, interacting with children about issues concerning gender and sexuality is fraught with feelings of uneasiness and anxiety. For others, familiarity with research on these topics has resulted in rethinking their approaches to sex, gender, and sexuality in their early childhood classrooms. The pedagogical project discussed in Disrupting Gendered Pedagogies in the Early Childhood Classroom examines the tensions associated with one teacher’s attempts to rethink gendered narratives and childhood sexuality in her own classroom. This project illustrates that it is possible for early childhood teachers to use feminist poststructuralism and queer theory to deepen their understandings and responses to children’s talk, actions, and play regarding sex, gender, and sexuality and to use these understandings to inform their professional practice.
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Chapter 2. Critical Autoethnography and Possibilities for Reframing Teaching Practices

← 16 | 17 →Chapter 2

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This project is the narrative representation of my teaching journey living in a transitional space (Ellsworth, 2005). It is a story of wandering, thinking, and writing within my own spaces of unrest—spaces that moved me intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. I called upon a reconfigured poststructural autoethnography to reflect theories of subjectivity and transitional space, including ruptures and paradoxes, along with possibilities for transformative answers to new questions and the construction of rethought pedagogical behaviors (Phillips, Harris, Larson, & Higgins, 2009). While poststructural theorists challenge assumptive humanist notions of the subject as capable of knowing and articulating the self, they simultaneously offer a justification for situating the self into the written text. I used multivocal poststructural autoethnography (Mizzi, 2010) to assist me as I reflected ← 17 | 18 →upon multiple (and changing) subjectivities, voices, shifting identities, and the construction of transitional spaces.

Shaken by criticism from poststructuralist, postmodernist, and feminist writers, some social scientists turned to personal narrative as a method of inquiry in order to frame an alternative relationship between researcher and subject. This postmodern moment was defined by a yearning for storytelling, a desire to compose ethnographies in new ways, and an urge to find alternative ways to write, including locating one’s self within the text. As a result of this movement toward personal narratives, autoethnographic writing emerged, offering with it a way to organize and frame a research study that positions the researcher as the subject (Denzin & Lincoln, 2003). In recent years and as...

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