This week the articles read were Welcoming Gender Diversity in the Early Years by Timmons and Airton, Can We Learn Queerly?: Normativity and Social Justice Pedagogies by Loutzenheiser, and lastly the section on The Gender Politics of Curriculum Reform by Pinar.
Reading the work of Timmons and Airton highlighted the responsibility that early childhood educators have regarding providing an environment free of gender identity and gender expression discrimination. It addresses the guiding documents in Ontario ELEC, Early Learning for Every Child Today, and HDLH, How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years. I thought that it was interesting that the articles did not address childhood gender diversity directly. I began to question what resources that Saskatchewan has in regards to gender diversity. Saskatchewan Ministry of Education in 2015 had created the Deepening the Discussion Gender and Sexual Diversity, a document developed to “support individuals and communities to engage in meaningful discussions and actions to respond to the experiences, perspectives and needs of students and families who are gender and/or sexually diverse” (Saskatchewan Ministry of Education, 2015, p 1). However, with these documents both in Saskatchewan and Ontario, we need to ensure that teachers know these documents and provide support for implementing gender-diverse and gender-expansive practices into the classrooms. We need to work towards what Loutzenheiser states, “uncover and analyze how the classroom is already sexualized, heterosexualized, and racialized” (p. 135).
This article provides excellent suggestions that I believe ALL educators should refer back to for gender-expansive teaching practices. Timmons and Airton suggest:
- Provide accurate information.
- “Go with it” when children are exploring gender in playful ways.
- Affirm children’s gender identities and gender expression.
- Find teachable moments.
- Examine material through a gender-expansive lens.
Loutzenheiser analyzed tolerance, how tolerance reinforces the dominant norm and can only exist if there is another (p 123). Further, tolerance continues to center the dominant narrative and promotes a utopian view of society resulting in “sweeping otherness under the carpet” and providing a good society view.
A Look at Gender Politics and Curriculum Reform
Pinar addresses some interesting points regarding gender and physical activity in the height of the Cold War. This section of the textbook, discussed is a physical fitness program put in place by the Kennedy administration. This program promoted physical activity and the need to have “hard” American boys, as there was growing concern that the American population was becoming too soft. However, Pinar highlights that this program was directed towards the white male, as the concern was around manhood. However, black males and the stereotype of aggressively were considered “hard” enough. There was great concern for the feminization of boys in the Cold War era. Even Batman and Robin were said to pose a threat to masculinity.
I would like to assume that this Kennedy-inspired mindset rapidly spread across western countries and continues to play out in the lack of gender-diversity that we see in society and in our schools. The article highlighted the subtleness that gender roles and stereotypes are embedded within our society.