Dr. Yuwei Xu, UCL Institute of Education, London, UK
Prof. Markus Andrä, FH Dresden, University of Applied Sciences, Dresden, Germany
Dr. Christian Eidevald, University of Gothenburg & City of Gothenburg’s Preschools, Gothenburg, Sweden
Yulin Zhang, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, US & Avenues World School, Shenzhen, China
Inspired by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and particularly by Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 4 (‘Ensure inclusive and quality education for all’) & 5 (‘Achieve gender equality’), this project embraces and responds to the significance of pedagogies and practices that promote gender diversity and equality in early childhood education and care (ECEC). The project ultimately aims to provide children in selected countries with enriched experiences in their early life and support them to achieve their full potential.
In this study, we appeal to the recruitment and training of practitioners who are/can be sensitive to issues of gender and can implement a gender-sensitive pedagogy. Practitioners also need to reflect on their own gendered subjectivities that instruct their pedagogies and practices in working with young children. To promote gender-sensitive and -reflexive practices among practitioners, we propose a cross-cultural approach to ECEC pedagogy and gender-sensitive teacher training. There exist many taken-for-granted and unchallenged gender practices in ECEC settings across, hence cross-cultural reflexivity offers potential critical opportunities for local practices to be considered and ‘judged’ in cross-cultural and comparative contexts; meanwhile taking into account both local and international policies and discourses. The cross-cultural approach to ECEC pedagogy we propose in this project will: 1) Raise awareness of how dominant gender discourses shape ECEC values and practices in local cultures; 2) Inform about gender-sensitive practices and the possible consequences, as alternative to gender-blind practices; 3) Encourage rethinking of pedagogical values and the implications for wider social justice and equity; and 4) Facilitate mutual understanding of cultural differences and similarities among nations and prepare children as global citizens. As gender binary and gender hegemony are still pervasive in shaping practitioners’ gender subjectivities internationally, challenging hegemonic gender discourses globally would benefit from cross-cultural collaborations and joint efforts.
The purpose of this project is to engage practitioners from four different countries (China, UK, Germany, and Sweden) in a continuing professional development (CPD) training module on gender-sensitive pedagogies and practices in early childhood education and care (ECEC). To achieve this, we will organize activities in three stages:
- Stage 1: A one-day workshop will be organized in each country to facilitate discussions around gender and ECEC among practitioners/kindergarten teachers. The workshop will be a combination of presentations from the project team, and practitioner-led focus group discussions on two questions: Why gender matters in ECEC? & Does the gender of a practitioner matter?.
- Stage 2: A reflective journal will be kept by participant practitioners/teachers for one month. The reflective journal will focus on participants’ experiences of gender in their daily practices. They will note down critical moments that promote gender-sensitive practices and pedagogies, challenges and strategies they come across during those moments, and training supports needed for further enhancing gender-sensitive ECEC. The reflective journal will be used to inform content for an online training module.
- Stage 3: An online CPD training module and learning community will be developed. The online learning community will contribute to establishing an international network of practitioners/teachers, enabling them to engage in cross-cultural discussions and activities to promote gender-sensitive ECEC.
If you would like to hear more about our project and engage in our network, please feel free to get in touch with us.
Dr Yuwei Xu
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7331 5239