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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 5. Shifting Identities, Multiple Subjectivities, and the (Re)Making of a Teacher

← 70 | 71 →Chapter 5

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This chapter presents a multivocal (Mizzi, 2010) narrative of my journey living in a “transitional space” (Ellsworth, 2005), of trying on, being in, and becoming (Phillips, Harris, Larson, & Higgins, 2009, p. 1456) a feminist, poststructural thinker and early childhood educator. What my experience may offer is a more thorough awareness of the complexity that sex, gender, and sexuality play in the lives of young children, including the ways children take up, experience, and resist gender discourses in the context of their early childhood classroom environment (Giugni, 2006). Additionally, of great importance is to provide support for those teachers who are willing to take risks as they question early childhood norms and begin the troublesome and problematic work of constructing and acting out new images of what it means to be an early childhood teacher (Blaise & Andrew, 2005). This is not a project of intention but one of wandering in between while making a new kind ← 71 | 72 →of sense of sex, gender, sexuality, and my role as an early childhood educator (Phillips et al., 2009).

I would also like to remind the reader that Derrida (1997) proposed that no label or identifier can capture or illustrate the meaning of a concept because the meaning is always slipping away through references to other identifiers. Therefore, the language(s) used to describe my experiences are “inaccurate yet necessary” (Spivak, 1997, p. xii) and can therefore be considered poststructural (Koro-Ljungberg, 2008). Through multiple rereadings of my project field and...

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