Pink Towering Practices in the Montessori Classroom: how gender is produced through human-material-semiotic encounters

Date: Monday 4th November 2019

Time: 15.30-17.00, Rm C113

Abstract: This paper attempts to open out investigations in early childhood by working beyond anthropocentric accounts of gender. Drawing upon feminist new materialist philosophies we ask whether it might be possible to reach understandings about gender that recognise it as produced through everyday processes and material-affective entanglements. In order to do this, we work with Montessori materials, spaces and practices to grapple with the ways that gender is produced through human-material-semiotic encounters. By focusing on familiar objects, such as the iconic pink tower, we follow diffractive lines of enquiry to extend investigations and generate new knowledge about gender in childhood contexts. This shift in focus allows other accounts about gender to find expression. We argue gender can be understood as more than exclusively human matter; and we go on to debate what that might mean (i.e. that if gender is fleeting, shifting, and produced within micro-moments there is freedom to break free from narrow framings that fix people in unhelpful ways).

Key words: gender, feminist new materialism, early childhood education, Montessori, men in early years

Sid Mohandas is a Montessori teacher and teacher trainer from the UK. He is also the founder of The Male Montessorian, an online platform that seeks to grapple with the complexities of gender within early childhood spaces. He is currently doing his PhD at Middlesex University investigating how a gendered workforce is materialised in Montessori spaces utilising feminist new materialism onto-epistemology.

Jayne Osgood is Professor of Education at Middlesex University and Professor II at OsloMet University. Her present methodologies and research practices are framed by feminist new materialism. She has published extensively within the post paradigm and seeks to maintain a concern with issues of social justice and to critically engage with early childhood policy, curricular frameworks and pedagogical approaches. She is a member of several editorial boards including Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, and is a co-editor of Gender & Education Journal and Reconceptualizing Education Research Methodology.

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