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I have taught the junior classes for a number of years and have found that, even in infants, the children already begin to adhere to a number of gender stereotypes. While the concepts are of course all very innocent, it is interesting to observe the way that the advertising of toys, TV shows etc all greatly influence the way that they think. As teachers, we have a great opportunity to challenge these stereotypes and encourage the children to look at the world in a more inclusive, equal way.
I find Aistear to be a really great way of both observing and breaking down stereotypes. Because of its thematic nature, children are often more willing to let go of their preconceived ideas of boys toys vs girls toys, and it is lovely to see them branch out into activities that they may not usually go for during free play. Aistear also provides effective opportunities for discussions about gender stereotypes, particularly when looking at job roles and professions… e.g. explaining that nurses can also be male and engineers can also be female.
Development Education enables us to view the world from a more inclusive standpoint and encourages us to examine our behaviours in the context of fairness and equality. I am looking forward to exploring the resources from this course in more detail and using them to influence my teaching going forward.