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Discussion Of Theoretical Perspectives In Danby, S. (1996). Constituting Social Membership: Two Readings Of Talk In An Early Childhood Classroom. Language And Education, 10(2&3), 151 170.

1654 words - 7 pages

IntroductionThe above paper is based on two alternative readings interpreted through the traditional early childhood pedagogy and ideas from feminist post-structuralism. This paper seeks to explore some limitations of the traditional early childhood pedagogy in addressing gender issues by comparing it with the feminist post-structuralist approach. A brief introduction to each theoretical perspective will first be given.Developmental psychology is central to traditional early childhood pedagogy. Traditional early childhood pedagogy is conceptualized within a Piagetian-based theory. This theory defines development as a natural progression through various stages in the same sequence, irrespective of the social and cultural environment (Kolberg & Mayer, 1972, p. 454).Feminist post-structuralism draws on principles of post-structuralism and feminism (Weedon, 1997). Generally, post-structuralism looks at individual's lives as conscious thinking subjects, and how they give meaning to material social relations (Weedon, 1997, p. 26). Feminist post-structuralism is distinguished by its focus on individuals' understandings of themselves and of each other's understanding of the individual as male or female, and how such categories impose limits on understandings, knowledge, skills and performance (MacNaughton, 1995, p. 37).In the discussion that follows, the scope will be limited to deconstructing the underlying assumptions of naturalness and children as passive recipients of social experiences in traditional early childhood pedagogy.Deconstructing NaturalnessAn important aspect of traditional early childhood pedagogy is the 'natural' development of children. Any intervention would be harmful to the natural development of the child (MacNaughton, 2000). As Hall (1901, cited in Kolberg & Mayer, 1972) stated,The guardian of the young should strive first to keep out of nature's way and to prevent harm and should merit the proud title of the defenders of the happiness and rights of children (p. 24).However, the definition of what is 'natural' is problematic and debatable (Alloway, 1995). Is a male-female bipolar dualism more natural than seeing gender as multiple ways of being? By emphasizing non-intervention, this philosophy seems to acknowledge the male-female dualism as natural. This proposition is supported by Weedon (1997) who stated that there is "a common-sense assumption that there is a natural way for girls, boys, women and men to be" (p. 94).In relation to the implicit acceptance of male-female dualism as natural, one can question whether asymmetrical power relations structuring the dualism, is also natural. The emphasis on natural development of the child ignores the existence of power relations that structures the relationship between males and females. By not addressing asymmetrical power relations as an issue, the discourse of naturalism seems to endorse and legitimize asymmetrical power relations between males and females. On the other...

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