Exploring children’s experiences of gender and heteronormative disruptive texts in early years classrooms
Early years classrooms are sites where children (re)create normative gender and heteronormative discourses. Research demonstrates that teachers can disrupt and broaden children’s understanding of normative discourses through read-aloud sessions with particular kinds of children’s literature. As a teacher-researcher, I conducted a four-week case study in my grade two classroom using poststructural feminism and queer theory as theoretical lenses to explore the ways in which the children experienced and understood literature that challenged the dominant discourses of gender and/or heteronormativity. The findings illustrate the ways in which the children misunderstood the text’s disruptive messaging, rejected the text’s disruptive messaging, and accepted the text’s disruptive messaging. In addition, the findings reveal the importance of explicit teaching to support the children in attending to and interpreting the discursive disruptions. The research demonstrates that teachers need to enlist a critical analysis of potential texts to use with young children, and to this end, I have compiled a list of 13 indicators to support teachers’ in selecting disruptive texts.
gender, heteronormativity, early years children, disruptive literature, schema, identity, queer theory, poststructural feminism, Butler, disruptive teaching, illustrations, gender norms, transgender