The Gender Agenda
15th January 2018
Written by Ali McClure – Author, Education and Parenting Consultant
If two school groups of Early Years children had just visited a museum and there were the following items left behind, do you think they should be returned to the party from the boys’ school or from the girls’ school?
- A pair of black football boots
- Some colouring pencils in a flowery case
- A set of toy cars
- A book about ponies
How uncomfortable this example makes me feel!
We can all make guesses as to whether these belong to boys or girls but, what is that knowledge based on:
- It is simply based on our experience of boys and girls?
- Is it based on what we know from our schools and our settings?
Like it or not it is based on GENDER GENERALISATIONS.
Yes of course we do fall into two sexes, male and female but this binary definition is based on physical, biological characteristics. It is OK to be male, it is OK to be female- of course it is, but it is not OK for others to define us by it.
What this binary definition misses is that every single child is a unique individual and these days we are much more open to the fact that, although assigned a sex a birth, there are boys who think and behave more as we would expect girls to and vice versa.
The Gender Agenda- How do we address this in our Early Years’ settings?
The most important thing is to be informed. To know about how the body and brain are inextricably linked.
We need to truly understand how the hormones which determine sex can have a profound effect on the blueprint of the brain-how that individual’s brain is likely to make connections and learn in the future. But this is just the beginning-there are so many other factors which act upon how a child develops and decide whether that blueprint will set the pathway for how this child develops. These external factors can even change their genetics for future generations.
We need to be aware of which aspects work together to build our children’s futures, boys or girls and every unique individual.
The three key players are:
Nature– our genes and biological parents
Nurture-how we are cared for, and our closest environment
Culture– people’s beliefs and habits, their expectations and the environment in which we live
Improving outcomes for every boy, every girl and all unique individuals
In this article we have just skimmed the surface. Visit my website to find out more about how brain wiring, physical development and attachment in those all-important early years can make a profound difference. How we meet the needs of every child is the subject for The Gender Agenda.
You can hear Ali speak at Childcare Expo London on Friday March 2nd 2018.
Ali is a highly respected and experienced Author, Education and Parenting Consultant. She also trains teachers and is a practising SENCo. Best known for her widely acclaimed book ‘Making it Better for Boys’ Ali’s work has been proven for more than a decade to improve outcomes for boys and girls alike. Ali’s distinctive, fun and unforgettable training has helped thousands of practitioners challenge their thinking and current habits. Changing their practice has transformed the lives of those little people, boys or girls that they meet every single day.
See you at the show.