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Children, families, and feminism: Perspectives on teaching

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Abstract

Feminist theorists are raising questions about assumptions still common in the fields of family and child development which are relevant to early childhood educators. This article discusses why content and pedagogy work together in feminist classrooms and reviews research on the stages that many students and instructors move through as they learn about ways in which women continue to struggle for equal status in modern American society.

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... Children and childhood in view of feminism. There are some common assumptions that various philosophies of feminism have been sharing (Tong, 1989;Grant, 1993;Evans, 1995;Mahoney, 1996). One is that women's and men's positions in society are the result of social, not natural or biological, factors. ...
... Children and childhood in view of feminism. There are some common assumptions that various philosophies of feminism have been sharing (Tong, 1989;Grant, 1993;Evans, 1995;Mahoney, 1996). One is that women's and men's positions in society are the result of social, not natural or biological, factors. ...
... Children and childhood in view of feminism. There are some common assumptions that various philosophies of feminism have been sharing (Tong, 1989;Grant, 1993;Evans, 1995;Mahoney, 1996). One is that women's and men's positions in society are the result of social, not natural or biological, factors. ...
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In accordance with the Western World, there exist numbers of new empirical sociological and interdisciplinary studies on children in Turkey. However, while Turkish empirical studies on children show the necessity of development of the better social policies, theoretical dullness prevents politicians to respect children’s voices as social actors, their capacity to be agents and to fully reach their rights as children. By proposing two vital categories for the child policy in Turkey, in the end, this study presents a brief background information on the connectedness of the new sociology of childhood and feminism in terms of their political and methodological accounts. Finally, it is concluded that an effective child policy in Turkey should especially consider the vulnerability of girls to raise their status.
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In this chapter I examine the practicalities of developing a gender-conscious and gender-flexible workforce in ECEC. I present the recruitment drives that have been attempted in other countries especially large-scale, well-funded national campaigns in Norway and Germany. I emphasise the need for training in gender sensitivity in initial teacher training and continuing professional development. I also present various examples of, and arguments for, single-sex, male-only support groups. I emphasise the value of strong supportive leadership and collegiality as essential ingredients for retaining male practitioners.
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This study examines how newly married couples respond to social-contextual factors which both encourage and inhibit marital equality. This analysis of in-depth interviews with 12 egalitarian heterosexual couples in their first year of marriage reveals that none of the couples fully meets the criteria for equal marriages defined in the study, although all the couples talked about their reltionships using a "language of equality." Conscious confrontation of both gender and equality issues appeared to be a prerequisite for the possibility of marital equality. Yet most couples avoided these issues and developed a "myth of equality." Implications for couples, research, and practice are addressed.
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An evaluation model, feminist phase theory, classifies the evolution of feminist scholarship in anthropology, history, literature, and psychology. Its uses for evaluating a faculty development seminar in women's studies and for analyzing syllabi and textbooks for their treatment of women are discussed.
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Feminists are in the forefront of the movement to expand the definition of family so that teaching about families will become more inclusive of diverse forms and processes. Yet, feminist goals of equality for all people and respect for diversity continue to be challenged by those who demand retrenchment to an outdated status quo. Feminist concerns that will ignite a revolution in family life education in the 1990s include the decline of traditional marriage, the reconstruction of intimate relationships, gender equality, economic autonomy, and reproductive freedom. A paradigm shift is needed to embrace the inclusiveness of all families and to champion the goals of pedagogical accountability, personal authenticity, and political action.
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Teaching about families from a feminist perspective is likely to result in more effective family life education than teaching from more traditional perspectives. Three core assumptions shared by feminists are used to examine the contributions of feminist perspectives to the content and methods of, and participants in, family life education. Regarding content, feminist critiques have deepened our understanding of families and children and have informed the process of conducting research. Regarding methods, feminist perspectives are more likely to engage learners by facilitating their connectedness and empowerment within the educational process. Feminist perspectives highlight the unique strengths, characteristics, and needs of participants.
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Three basic tenets of feminism (the belief that women are exploited, devalued, and oppressed; a commitment to changing the conditions of women; and the adoption of a perspective critical of intellectual traditions) are discussed. At times these principles are at odds with traditional science. Therefore, we address the question: “Can one be both a scientist and a feminist?” and answer in the affirmative. A review of a sample of JMF articles over the past 20 years shows some substantive but little methodological evidence of feminist scholarship. Analysis of NCFR board composition, and editors and authors in NCFR journals over the same time period reveals a pattern of underrepresentation of women. Scholars in the profession, ourselves included, are called upon to integrate feminist scholarship into the field. The degree to which NCFR adopts and applies gender-neutral standards is the degree to which achievement of feminist goals will be possible.
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This article presents a model of feminist identity development for women. The model is derived, in part, from Cross's (1971) theory of Black identity development and is based on the premise that women who live in contemporary society must first acknowledge, then struggle with, and repeatedly work through their feelings about the prejudice and discrimination they experience as women in order to achieve authentic and positive feminist identity. The stages in this process include passive acceptance, revelation, embeddedness-emanation, synthesis, and active commitment. Implications of the model are outlined for women, nonsexist and feminist psychotherapies and contemporary society.
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The present study investigated the effects of women's studies courses on women students' feminist identity development as defined by Downing and Roush (1984). In Study 1, the authors operationalized the five stages of the Downing and Roush model. Factor and reliability analyses performed in both Study 1 and Study 2 yielded a 39-item, self-descriptive, closed-ended feminist identity development scale (FIDS). In Study 2, the FIDS was administered at the beginning and end of the semester to 184 students in introductory women's studies courses and 39 controls. MANOVA and qualitative data from an open-ended questionnaire and semistructured interviews revealed that the women's studies students did experience development in terms of the model's stages, while the controls did not. In addition to suggesting a novel approach to evaluating women's studies courses, the results provided preliminary validity for the FIDS and the model on which it was based.
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Feminist scholars continue to stress that families are neither separate from wider systems of male domination nor automatically solidary and altruistic in their own right. However, feminist explanations of how families operate and contribute to maintaining women's subordination have shifted in the past decade from those that emphasize sex roles and socialization to those that describe processes of categorization and stratification by gender. This latter approach, called gender theory, is the central concern of this review. In the first portion of the essay, the premises of sex role theory and of gender theory are described and contrasted, and the uses of gender theory for understanding a variety of family roles are outlined. In the second section, the focus shifts to the ways that families operate to construct gender through the symbolic and structural dimensions of labor, both paid and unpaid, and through the control over income within the family. Gender models move theorizing about families away from the emphasis on dichotomies such as public or private, love or money, traditional or modern, and toward recognition of the diverse and contested nature of gender conventions both today and in the past. Rather than positing two opposite, comprehensive, consistent, and exclusive "sex roles," the new feminist theory identifies a variety of actively gendered roles that link families with other social institutions, offer rewards and costs to both women and men, and are both controversial and internally contradictory.
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Feminist phase theory describes the process of integrating women's studies scholarship as a series of identifiable stages, for both individuals and disciplines. Literature on the revolutionary and paradigm-shift potential of women's studies scholarship suggests important disciplinary differences in its construction, adoption, and diffusion. We reformulate feminist phase theory in paradigm shift terms, then operationalize and contrast two versions of it. Our analysis and review indicate that the missing variable in women's studies transformation projects is the participants' discipline. Data from our integration project show faculty in interpretive disciplines scoring higher on degree of integration of women's studies scholarship but not changing as a result of the project itself, while those in positivist disciplines do change but have lower absolute scores. These findings indicate a need for different integration strategies based on discipline. Empirical support for one sequential ordering in feminist phase theory argues for the importance and centrality of women-focused scholarship.
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