Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 8

Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Gender Orientation and Gender Identity

Angelo Bergs ECI 305 Elizabeth Taylor December 5, 2011

Bergs 2 What is Developmentally Appropriate Practice? Developmentally Appropriate Practice is when education provides what children need based on what is developmentally necessary for students. It is about giving what children need depending on age, ability, interest, and background. DAP also extends into every component of teaching such as language, play, emotions, and even into selfidentity. It is a necessary component of an educators classroom because it truly allows a teacher to give the student just what they need. My position of DAP I believe that an educator needs to give every child what is best for them as specifically as possible. We can do that by always providing options that still meet the objectives but allow options for students developing slower or faster than others. I feel that one component of that is the realm of gender orientation, gender identity, and acceptance. DAP in the realm of gender means avoiding stereotypes and not allowing students to feel suppressed or feeling bullied and harassed. Diversity of characteristics and needs A child needs a variety of things in order to explore their own needs when relating to the realm of gender identity. Gender Identity and Orientation refers to the personality traits that define a person as male or female and the persons own self-awareness of that identity. It can develop in children starting as soon as their parents say whether they are a boy or a girl and gender stereotyping can take place. People often use the words gender and sex interchangeably but that is not correct. A persons sex is based on whether or not they have a second X-chromosome (female) or a Y-chromosome (male) and it is the biological make-up of a person that determines their sex. Gender however, is what a

Bergs 3 person chooses for them self as an identity and it may or may not match their biological sex. Gender is the set of characteristics of people as a male or female. Another thing to note is that in some cultures around the world, they recognize more than two genders, so not everybody subscribes to the gender binary that is recognized in Western culture. The key thing a child needs is support. They need support from everyone in their life in order to allow them to do whatever it is they want to do. If a child does not feel supported then it can lead to feelings of second-guessing and self-doubts for many years to come and even their whole lives. All children are born neutral towards toys and activities, so providing things from both genders as options for the child until they decide what they like is best. Providing both is a great way for children to figure out for themselves what it is they like and want to be around. Children are not naturally aware of the differences in gender that adults see and know, so letting them play with toys from the opposite gender will not in any way determine what the childs other characteristics will be such as sexual orientation, academic success, or social competency. The only way it affects a child in any of those categories is if their creativity and desires are set aside to fit into societal norms without any regard for the childs feelings. For a childs gender identity to affect the other areas of their life, their gender identity development needs to be lacking, or it will have no affect. Major influences on learning and development There are so many influences in gender for children from the day they are born. The biggest influence on a child is what their interests are. A child will lean a certain way in their opinions of the world around them and that will help them choose what they like and dont like. If a boy wants to learn to dance before he learns to throw a ball, he is

Bergs 4 choosing to be interested in that and feeling empowered enough to follow that curiosity. The second most important influence is their parents. A parent is the one who has the choice of what toys, clothes, and activities their child will have and participate in. A parent will either allow or ban their child from doing things that do not conform to a particular gender if they feel that is best for their child. If a young girl wants to play with cars and sand instead of dolls, then her parents will decide to let her have those toys and play with them or not. The last influence is the largest and multi-faceted, which is society. Gender is a social construction built in order to assign roles and stereotype a person based on what their biological sex is. Society is so dense because it involves everything else in the world and it is based on location and can change accordingly. Friends and neighbors, tv and media, and public institutions like schools and daycares are included in society and they will all have an impact on a child. Imagine what a child will feel like if their interests fall outside of what other are expecting of them. Young children do not have the capacity to understand what their emotions mean when they see boys and girls acting a certain way when the media bombards them with stereotypes. They do not have the words or language to speak their uncomfortable feelings around gender and identity so they just feel terrible all on the inside and to themselves. The child could feel shameful and less important if they are told they are not normal or doing what is right. How can I create a supportive learning environment? I can create a learning environment that reflects my position on DAP by being supportive of all children and giving them many outlets. I can provide materials and media that show people acting in ways outside of gender-role stereotypes. Books or

Bergs 5 videos that show moms outside of the kitchen and men in touch with their emotions are two clear examples. A huge part of creating a supportive environment is to have an antibullying policy that works with my schools anti-bullying rules. If my school does not have policies that discourage bullying then advocating for change and for the time being, establishing those rules in my own classroom. Children will listen to other children more than they listen to adults so making sure my children feel safe around other children is crucial. A great resource that I have recommended now and in the past is GLSEN.org. It stands for the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network and they are committed to helping battle issues revolving around the LGBTQ community in classrooms today. They have plenty of resources that include research and activities/ programs surrounding anti-bullying and make them relatable and adaptable to many grades and ages. How to support families/ community based on my position of DAP Supporting families can be difficult if they are not in touch with this realm of development. It is fairly new in the education world and for many, would require some educating of the parents as well as the students. For families that are open to their childs gender being neutral or allowing their children to break gender stereotypes, it will be a matter of what their strategies are and personally talk to the child to see what their interests are and make sure I am incorporating those in a typical class day. As far as the families that are not promoting gender role abolishment and gender identity development, then helping to slowly educate them to the strengths of allowing their child to make free choices regardless of their gender. Research has shown a few different theories for which children develop their gender identity and all though they are not all the same, one thing rang true in all of them: the childs interests are rarely taken into account first. It is

Bergs 6 shown in studies that parents have the largest impact on the beginning of gender identity and society only starts to have a bigger impact once they start school. If a child is truly interested in actions that are typical of their sex then harvesting that but being open if they want to do other things is the purpose. Parents will then know how important a strong sense of self-identity is to a childs growth and development and how that can impact their education. If it is a difference between a childs mental health and academic success, most parents will start to listen instead of shutting the discussion down so quickly. Including the parents can be done by just having them around in the classroom and supporting the children in their self-discovery. Parents can be a powerful influence so allowing them in to work with the children is a great way to have them there in a fun way. Seeing what other parents do and trying to incorporate that into my class is another great way to make parents feel open and welcome into the room. Having parents in the classroom is an excellent way to model gender neutrality if it is present in my classroom. Allowing the parents to be around and learn first hand what it truly means to encourage gender identity differences in children is something they can only get by experiencing it for themselves around kids in a natural environment. Assessments The only way to truly assess the progress children make is through observation. There is no such test that children can take to see if they have achieved an understanding of their gender identity. If such a test existed, it would defeat the purpose of giving them the freedom to choose and live outside of societal norms. Observation of the childs comfort levels being themselves, being open and honest, and growing how they want to are ways to tell if they are developing in this area or not. Making anecdotal records for

Bergs 7 yourself and for their file will help to see any further progress or backtracking a child could make in this realm of their growth and development. Another great way to get feedback from the families before and after is to send home a survey for the parents. Just two or three questions that ask about what they are doing with their children in the realm of gender, what they know about gender identity development, and their beliefs around the topic. Doing this before allows the teacher to adjust their classroom according to what the children need to grow in that area. Another good thing about asking the parents is so the teacher can be mindful of the parents wishes and be respectful as best as possible. A survey of sort could be done with the children but it is best done through a conversation and mostly with observations to support the conversations findings. Counterargument A large number of parents and even educators may believe that gender identity and gender orientation ideals have no place in the classroom for a variety of reasons. However, since gender identity is a part of a childs self-discovery and their development is must be a part of the classroom just like everything else. If it has an impact on a childs growth then it belongs in the classroom and since the studies have shown a strong identity can help a child, it absolutely belongs in the learning environment. Closing Remarks To finish, it is clear that a sense of gender identity is important to every child and is necessary for them to be self-aware and grow properly. Since it is a part of how a child develops, it should be a part of a teachers DAP in their classroom in order to give kids exactly what they need.

Bergs 8

Clark-Flory, T. (2009, Sept 26). Good luck raising that gender neutral child. The Salon, Retrieved from http://www.salon.com/2009/09/26/gender_difference/ Ryder, U. K. (2011, May 30). Gender- neutral or wishful thinking?. The Feminist Wire, Retrieved from http://thefeministwire.com/2011/05/gender-neutral-or-wishfulthinking/ Santrock, J. W. (2011). Child development. (13th ed., pp. 344-361). New York, NY: The McGraw-Hill Companies. Wallner, G. (2000). Gender stereotyping on nickelodeon programming. Western Connecticutt State University, Retrieved from http://people.wcsu.edu/mccarneyh/acad/wallner.html