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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 7. A Letter to Teachers Who Would Be Critical, Disruptive and Transformative

← 98 | 99 →Chapter 7


Dear Early Childhood Teachers:

I write to those of you who hope to expand possibilities for all forms of justice, acceptance, and understanding for the young children with whom you work. If you have read the earlier chapters of this book, you know that I created a pedagogical project with my kindergarten students with the hope of learning to create liminal spaces from which to acknowledge diverse sexualities and accept young children as sexual beings with curiosities, knowledges, and feelings. This project began as a four-month exploration that placed me in between traditional and critical perspectives related to knowledge, young children, and education. As I listened to my students, explored multiple knowledges like feminist poststructuralism and queer theory, and attempted to broaden my teaching practices, I became a critical disruptive teacher. This becoming is not complete, and I will probably remain in between, liminal, ← 99 | 100 →and hybrid as I continue to explore and generate possibilities with my students. I hope you can consider the ideas that I want to share briefly with you.

A concern that is always related to issues of sexuality is what knowledge is appropriate for young children in regard to sex, gender, and sexuality, followed by what role do I play in providing them with the tools to understand their experiences with gender and sexuality. As the classroom teacher, I had to negotiate my own teaching experiences concerning gender and sexuality, largely because of the hegemonic discourse of child development (Piaget,...

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