Gender Equity in the Early Years

Gender Equity in the Early Years

Gender Equity in the Early Years

Gender Equity in the Early Years

Synopsis

Gender Equity in the Early Yearscritically evaluates the extent to which current early years policies, provision and practice promote and foster gender equity. It explores the rationale for the drive to employ more men in the early years field and examines the link made between 'underachievement' in boys and the 'feminine' nature of early years provision. It also looks at the underpinning philosophy and impact of the Foundation stage in early years provision. Taking into consideration recent research, this book considers the validity of the 'scientific' conclusions being drawn about the biological basis for gender differences. Children's perceptions of 'masculinities' and 'femininities' are also under scrutiny as the author analyses their imaginative role play and storytelling in early years settings. The author also looks at the principles behind the pre-school provision in Reggio Emilia and focuses on the extent to which this approach fosters gender equity. This groundbreaking book is essential reading for professionals working with young children, students on early childhood education and early childhood studies courses and heads and deputies in nurseries and primary and nursery schools.

Excerpt

There are significant and ongoing changes currently taking place within early childhood provision in the UK and it is therefore critical to reflect on how gender equity within the early years phase is likely to be promoted by central government initiatives and the developments being introduced by early years educators. This book aims to place the concerns and interests of those working in the early years field in the UK within a theoretical framework in order to enable educators, and others, to reflect on the impact of 'new' insights, initiatives and approaches to development, learning and teaching in the early years. Before writing the book I had expected that early years educators would be concerned about issues such as the impact of the introduction of the foundation stage and of the curriculum guidance for this non-statutory provision, the changes from baseline assessment to the development of a foundation stage profile and the inspection pattern of early years settings. From talk with educators it became very clear, however, that the early years field has felt the 'backwash' arising from the increasing concern about boys' 'underachievement'. Many educators have also read the numerous articles in newspapers with headlines such as 'Planet boy, where mum fades from the picture' that urge that we 'accept their [boys'] maleness and teach them to cope with the education system and girls' emotional games' (Turner 2003a). Articles such as this promote the view not only that differences between girls and boys are biologically determined but also that the education system is weighted against boys, as it has been 'reorganised for the benefit of super-ambitious Hermiones with their diligence, neat handwriting and battery of different-coloured pens', with the result that girls' achievements 'eclipse those of boys' (Turner 2003a). Furthermore, educators are aware of some of the insights into child development that are emanating from research into brain structure and development (Kimura 1992; Shaywitz et al. 1995; Gur et al. 1999). These 'insights' support a shift towards biological determinism and the 'insights' therefore need to be reexamined in relation to theories about children's construction of gender and issues of gender equity.

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