Exploring embodied methodologies for transformative practice in early childhood and youth

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Abstract

The development of gendered identities during early childhood and youth occurs in a context of ‘body culture’ and the hyper-visibility of ‘perfect’ bodies, which align with traditional gender ideals. Embodied methods can assist to make complexity more visible, and to allow participants to see fluidity, shifts, and becoming. Whilst there has been significant theoretical development, further methodological innovations are needed to enable children and youth to articulate their perceptions of the way multiple influences shape their relations with their own bodies. Informed by ‘new materialist’ feminist theory this article will examine the work of Australian educators exploring use of creative and embodied drama-based play. The chapter advances methodologies to support pedagogical engagement with young children and youth about gender, identity and social change. The authors explore how embodied creative play can be used across ages to support children and young people to articulate the ways social norms and expectations influence their desires, imaginings, fears and actions and their perceptions of what is possible, desirable or appropriate in relation to performances of gender in their everyday worlds.

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