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Queer Pedagogy as an Impossible Profession  

Renée DePalma

Queer pedagogy can be considered a kind of critical pedagogy, which questions the neutrality of knowledge and renders teaching a political act. Drawing upon queer studies, it remains strategically poised on a series of important contradictions between constructing and deconstructing, defining and undoing. In the very impossibility of resolving such issues it challenges the basic premise of the institution of schooling—instead of providing clear and definitive answers to questions, it keeps them open. Its productivity lies in unsettling oppressive certainties. Can we both understand that bodies, by their very nature, exceed their discursive construction, and at the same time recognize people’s own identifications and the very real social and historical repressions they have experienced and continue to experience as a result of these? Discourse analysis in the field of education provides the potential for questioning the limits of discourse and the knowledge it creates, while creating spaces for recognition and the production of alternative understandings. Instead of simply replacing older knowledge regimes with newer (and supposedly better) ones—a traditional didactic approach—we might critically analyze how knowledge has been constructed and how people’s lived experiences challenge these constructions, and then begin to imagine a queer pedagogy based on this analysis.

Article

Sex/Gender and Affect/Emotion  

Barbara S. Stengel

Sex/gender and affect/emotion mutually implicate one another in any theory, research, or practice with respect to education. It is important to examine these two elements together because the emergent focus on affect since the early 1970s is not an accident of thought but tracks the interest in sex/gender as an object of study and tracks as well the increased and increasing visibility of scholars who are not male, cisgendered, and heterosexual. Two overlapping but distinguishable approaches to the study of affect and emotion—affect theory and the feminist politics of emotion—have contributed to changing conceptions of sexuality and gender with respect to educational purposes and pedagogies. Affect theory begins and ends in lived experience; a feminist politics of emotion begins and ends in the press for active response that accompanies that lived experience. Nonetheless, there is a common concern with how power circulates through feeling and how ways of being and knowing come to be through affective relations and discourses. Moreover, there is a shared commitment to understanding affects not as constraints on rationality and hurdles to ethical action, but as the potential to think, act, and live differently.

Article

Critical Autism Studies, Race, Gender, and Education  

Robin Roscigno

Critical autism studies (CAS) is an emergent field that challenges deficit-based thinking about autism. Early scholars of autism, such as psychologists Bruno Bettelheim, Leo Kanner, or Ivar O. Lovaas, adopted a biomedical or behavioral approach to the study of autism. Rejecting such an approach, critical disability studies and by extension CAS have developed robust theoretical frameworks to account for the sociocultural and embodied experience of disability, including the social model of disability, the cultural model of disability, and poststructural models of disability. These approaches to the study of disability challenge medical models of disability that understand disability as an individual experience of impairment. Disability is framed as a problem to be solved via biomedicine and helping professionals and instead conceive of disability as a web of sociocultural entanglements. In contrast, theoretical approaches to critical autism studies include critical discourse analysis (CDA), feminist theory, and critical race theory. Scholars using CDA explore how ableism is produced and sustained through discourses, particularly public discourses within the media, scholarship, non-governmental organizations, and schools. Critical autism scholars who employ critical race theory seek to understand the intersectional identities of autistic people of color and the compounding effects of racism and ableism. Feminist approaches to the study of autism trouble gender stereotypes about autistic people, most notably Simon Baron Cohen’s extreme male brain theory.

Article

Queer Pedagogical Theory  

Matthew Thomas-Reid

Queer pedagogical theory might be best thought of as a mindset to approaching the classroom derived from the lived experience of queerness. Starting with a consideration of what is to be queer, one can begin to develop an understanding of how queerness as an identity might inform a decentering of classroom spaces that allows for marginalized positionalities to disrupt normative assumptions about how we approach myriad aspects of classroom experiences. After tracing the theoretical lineage of queer pedagogy and the theory that informs it, specific pedagogical aspects such as method, texts, and assessment can be cast in a queer context. With openness, fluidity, and the embracing of the unknown, the queer pedagogue holds space for new sites of epistemological inquiry which moves toward not inclusion, rather a disruption of the colonized lineage of the classroom.

Article

Critical Gender Geographies  

Boni Wozolek

Critical geography, as it is studied in North America and parts of Europe, has been growing since the 1970s. However, focusing on gender, sexual orientation, race, home language, or the like, was not a primary concern of the field until the mid-1980s. As radical critical geography shifted toward cultural and critical geography, marginalized voices could be heard in and across the field in local and less-local contexts. As critical geography began to intersect with education in the mid-1990s, it became a tool for studying marginalization across layers of scale. Fields of geography are impacted as much by contemporary sociopolitical dialogues as they are by educational research and its related historical boundaries and borders. Finally, it is significant to consider what a critical gender-queer geography might mean as the field continues to grow.

Article

Black Male Teachers and Gender Equity in Early Childhood Education  

Nathaniel Bryan

Black male teachers represent 2% of the teaching profession. When grade level and area of specialization are added, for example early childhood education, even fewer Black males are visibly present in classrooms. Because of the underrepresentation of Black male teachers, clarion calls have been made in extant research, media, and popular press for racial and gender equity at and above the early childhood level. Black male teacher recruitment and retention initiatives including Call Me Mister have played an instrumental role in attempting to diversify early childhood classrooms by bolstering the percentage of Black male teachers who teach young children, and by illuminating the importance and benefits of the pedagogies and schooling practices of Black male teachers in supporting Black boys in classrooms. Black boys are often misperceived as disinterested in school, and Black male teachers are summoned to classrooms to serve as role models, father figures, and pedagogues who can meet the academic and social needs of Black boys at all grade levels. However, persistent challenges to the recruitment and retention of Black male teachers to classrooms remain daunting tasks in the teaching profession. More than 85% of teachers are White, middle-class, and female, and this overwhelmingly White female majority has concretized the idea that early childhood teaching is essentially women’s work. In doing so, White female teachers are socially constructed as the hallmark of early childhood education, possessing the White hegemonic feminine characteristics and dispositions essential to teaching young children. To that end, anti-Black misandric normative discourses such as early childhood teaching as women’s work have created barriers for and has stymied the recruitment and retention of men, regardless of race and ethnicity, but especially Black men who desire to teach young children.

Article

Queer Pedagogy  

Matthew Thomas-Reid

Queer pedagogy is an approach to educational praxis and curricula emerging in the late 20th century, drawing from the theoretical traditions of poststructuralism, queer theory, and critical pedagogy. The ideas put forth by key figures in queer theory, including principally Michel Foucault and Judith Butler, were adopted in the early 1990s by to posit an approach to education that seeks to challenge heteronormative structures and assumptions in K–12 and higher education curricula, pedagogy, and policy. Queer pedagogy, much like the queer theory that informs it, draws on the lived experience of the queer, wonky, or non-normative as a lens through which to consider educational phenomena. Queer pedagogy seeks to both uncover and disrupt hidden curricula of heteronormativity as well as to develop classroom landscapes and experiences that create safety for queer participants. In unpacking queer pedagogy, three forms of the word “queer” emerge: queer-as-a-noun, queer-as-an-adjective, and queer-as-a-verb. Queer pedagogy involves exploring the noun form, or “being” queer, and how queer identities intersect and impact educational spaces. The word “queer” can also become an adjective that describes moments when heteronormative perceptions become blurred by the presence of these queer identities. In praxis, queer pedagogy embraces a proactive use of queer as a verb; a teacher might use queer pedagogy to trouble traditional heteronormative notions about curricula and pedagogy. This queer praxis, or queer as a verb, involves three primary foci: safety for queer students and teachers; engagement by queer students; and finally, understanding of queer issues, culture, and history.

Article

Youth- and Peer-Led Sex Education  

Alanna Goldstein

Peer-led and youth-led sex education primarily involves young people teaching other young people about sex, sexuality, and sexual health. This approach gained in popularity during the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s–1990s, as community organizations sought to address the unique sexual health needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth, many of whom had been underserved in traditional sex education spaces. Since then, peer-led and youth-led sex education pedagogies have been implemented by researchers, educators, and community organizations working across a range of sites around the globe. Peer-led and youth-led sex education generally draws on assumptions that young people are better situated than adults to talk to their peers about sexual health and/or to model positive sexual health behavior. However, some have noted that this perspective constructs young people as a homogenous group and ignores the ways in which sexuality and sexual health intersects with other social factors. Furthermore, there is a general lack of consensus across interventions around who constitutes a “peer” and what constitutes “peer-led” sex education, resulting in the development of interventions that at times tokenize young people, without engaging them in meaningful ways. As a result, evaluations of many peer- and youth-led sex education pedagogies suggest that even as these pedagogies improve young people’s knowledge of sexual health-related topics, they often don’t result in long-term sexual health behavior change. However, many evaluations of peer- and youth-led sex education pedagogies do suggest that acting as a peer educator is of immense benefit to those who take on this role, pointing to the need for program developers to reconsider what effective sex education pedagogy might look like. A “social ecology” or “systems thinking” approach to youth sexual health may provide alternative models for thinking about the future of peer-led and youth-led sex education. These approaches don’t task peer- and youth-led sex education with the sole responsibility of changing young people’s sexual health-related outcomes, but rather situate peer-led sex education as one potential node in the larger confluence of factors that shape and constrain young people’s sexual health.