Rethinking Gender and Early Childhood Teaching
We saw in Chapter 3 how five gender discourses (wearing femininity, body movements, makeup, beauty, and fashion talk) work in the early childhood classroom and how they constitute an integral part of the heterosexual matrix. However, it is not enough for teachers simply to notice and recognize these gender discourses in the classroom. If we are serious about disrupting gender norms, then we as teachers must step out of our safety zones and actively respond to the gender discourses that children are drawing from when they are in the classroom and help them to challenge these taken-for-granted norms. Moving away from a single way of knowing, in this case developmentalism, makes room for multiple perspectives, which in turn influence innovative kinds of teaching decisions and practices. As children’s talk and actions take on new meanings, so will teaching. Rethinking teaching strategies and envisioning new kinds of classrooms will be hard, because this is about trying to create a space that we often cannot see ourselves.