An old issue in a new era: early years practitioners' perceptions of gender

Wingrave, Mary Ann (2014) An old issue in a new era: early years practitioners' perceptions of gender. Ed.D thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This dissertation is an exploration of a group of Early Years Practitioners’ perceptions of gender. The current media and educational interest in the gendered brain suggests that children’s learning might be differentiated according to their sex. Based on assumed biological differences, approaches to the care and education of children could be established on sex categories rather than on an individual’s needs. My focus here is to explore understandings of gender to gain insight into how these might influence practitioners’ expectations of children’s behaviour and learning in the nursery environment. The study is premised on the belief that practitioners’ perceptions of gender could result in self-fulfilling prophecies being (re)produced and (re)created. Binary expectations could limit opportunities for children due to stereotypical assumptions and practices being employed. The dissertation adopts a Foucauldian lens to identify practices and perceptions that foreground children’s gender and sex categories and which do not reflect child-centred approaches. A number of themes permeate the dissertation, including the nature of gender, sexuality and play. The research data was collected from a group of eight Early Years Practitioners who took part in five discussion sessions as well as from a toy survey given to that group and a further 92 participants. The findings indicate that there is a belief among practitioners that gender impacts upon learning, behaviour and children’s play. In addition, there are clear indications that the participants believe children’s, especially boys’, early play behaviours predict their future sexual orientation. The conclusions presented suggest that changes to the education and training of Early Years Practitioners are required in order to raise awareness of gender issues in nurseries. I suggest that placing gender back on the training agenda with the use of Dewey’s critical thinking and Schon’s reflection-on-action may support changes to practice that could, in turn, provide children with more equitable teaching and learning experiences. Finally, areas for further research are proposed that investigate the perceptions of gender as understood by children and their parents.

Item Type: Thesis (Ed.D)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: gender, Early Years, biological determinism, social construction, stereotypes, Foucault
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
L Education > L Education (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education > Professional Learning and Leadership
Supervisor's Name: Davis, Professor Robert and Hedge, Dr. Nicki
Date of Award: 2014
Depositing User: Ms Mary Wingrave
Unique ID: glathesis:2014-5211
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 07 Jul 2014 13:11
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2014 13:13

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