Working with children in the early childhood years

Rocco, Sharn (1997) Working with children in the early childhood years. In: Alloway, Nola, and Gilbert, Pam, (eds.) Boys and Literacy: teaching units. Curriculum Corporation, Carlton, VIC, Australia, pp. 25-33.

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From about 3-8 years of age boys are busily being recognised as boys - boisterous, inquisitive, assertive, active and outdoors. At the same time boys are actively taking themselves up as male and demonstrating to the world their competence in getting their gender right. They do this by not engaging with activities that are usually associated with being a girl - passive, helpful, deferent, obedient, indoors. In this way, activities commonly linked to the development of literacy become associated with the feminine and as such are sometimes resisted by boys.

The Boys and Literacy project is based on evidence that boys, as a group, achieve lower levels in school-based literacy than do girls. Significantly, this is contextualised by structural relations of power in which women are positioned as a subordinate (although at times, majority) group. Although boys (as a group) achieve lower academic standards in English they do not suffer the same structural disadvantage on the basis of gender that is experienced by girls. Girls continue to be under-represented in high status subjects such as Maths and Sciences dominated by boys and considered to be masculine. Positions of power and authority (social, economic and academic) continue to be claimed aIniost exclusively by men. As indicated by the research presented throughout the Boys and Literacy Project, the structural disadvantages experienced by boys are clearly linked to their positioning within hierarchical categories of race and class.

A program of activities such as those suggested below has been devised by teachers' thinking about the need to work towards more balanced outcomes. By self-consciously deconstructing the metaphor of balance symbolised by the archetypal scales that appear throughout ancient, modern, mythic and scientific histories, the teacher can be read as the fulcrum or pivotal point. Within the context of the teaching-learning program (assumed to be designed to facilitate particUlar kinds of learning and understandings), the movements and words of the teacher (interacting with, and on behalf of students) act as a balance and counter balance to the intricate dynamics of power and achievement that prevail. The activities .outlined below are suggestions -for what the teacher might do to disrupt the maintenance of inequitable practices and outcomes that have become so usual that they are taken for granted within schooling.

Item ID: 11806
Item Type: Book Chapter (Teaching Material)
ISBN: 978-1-86366-421-9
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Date Deposited: 31 Aug 2010 23:45
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130204 English and Literacy Curriculum and Pedagogy (excl LOTE, ESL and TESOL) @ 30%
13 EDUCATION > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130308 Gender, Sexuality and Education @ 40%
13 EDUCATION > 1301 Education Systems > 130102 Early Childhood Education (excl Maori) @ 30%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9302 Teaching and Instruction > 930201 Pedagogy @ 50%
93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9399 Other Education and Training > 939904 Gender Aspects of Education @ 50%
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