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Disrupting Gendered Pedagogies in the Early Childhood Classroom


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 6. Creating Liminal Classroom Spaces: Acknowledging My Disruptive Teacher Voice

← 84 | 85 →Chapter 6


In this chapter, I present three multivocal, autoethnographic narratives illustrating my pedagogical journey between trying on, being in, and becoming a feminist poststructural educator who uncovers and troubles gendered teaching practices in her own early childhood classroom. These texts were generated from notes and recordings written as I struggled to move beyond my comfort zone as the good DAP teacher, to recognize the ways gender and sexuality influence my own teaching practices in the classroom, to challenge normalized gender identity and sexuality in my teaching practices, and to trouble teaching and learning in the early childhood classroom broadly. While sections and the linear movement of the text can be deceptive, some type of order and structure was needed to help the reader make sense of the conversations.

In trying on poststructural feminisms, I wrestled with what Foucault (1983) termed hypomnemata, the “means to establish as adequate and as ← 85 | 86 →perfect a relationship to oneself as possible” (p. 247). While my understandings and questions concerning feminist poststructural, queer perspectives grew and I experimented with new pedagogy, I struggled with essentialism and a desire for the answers. I still needed to be the good DAP early childhood teacher.

Early on in the project, I read the picture book Arthur’s Valentine by Marc Brown (1988) to my class of students in order to engage them in a discussion about gender and sexuality. This particular book was chosen for two reasons. First, it was my experience that boys and...

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