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‘Woke’ Early Years

In the era of ‘woke’ there has been a huge shift in society and with this many of us have a newfound awareness of the injustices marginalised people face. In theory, this is brilliant (we want everyone to be aware of what’s going on in the world) but in practice we really can get it wrong. Your slightly aggressive sharing of Instagram posts or the many gender inclusive books you buy on amazon is well intentioned but only touches the tip of the iceberg.

As a cis-gender white woman I have privileges that allow me to sail through life fairly unaffected by racial injustice or discrimination due to how I identify. This is exactly the reason why it’s easy to fall at the first hurdle because when I don’t want to, I can switch off from being woke, untouchable in my white, straight bubble - but those who do face injustices cannot decide one day to switch off, to suddenly not be gay or brown or transgender. And this really was the realisation that made me get on with it; face those demons, really see how ugly I can be, feel that long uncomfortable feeling of discomfort. Facing myself; my views, my thoughts, my biases (many of which were not as unconscious as I would have liked them to be) and my values; was the most uncomfortable part of this journey but it also felt good, it was an opportunity to cleanse my thoughts and feelings of all the outside influences, a time to seek the truth for myself, not to believe something because my dad or my teacher or my best friend believes it, a time to become who I actually am.

And as I read more and listened more and learnt more this was reflected in my practice as an early years teacher; some say it’s pushing my own political agenda but I say it’s about the individual child and that is core in the early years right? How can we truly nourish each individual child if they never see themselves represented and if we continue to show the same gender stereotypes that we as children saw. This topic isn’t new but I have realised it starts within, you have to change you and really commit to it.

So when you feel like you can’t go on or that you’re lost and unsure of why you’re doing it, look at those children that you care for and know that you could be the difference if only you carry on.

Further reading

Anything by @theblacknurserymanager on Instagram

LGBTQIA+ Early Years magazine

The Early Years Edit podcast - episode one

Drag Pedagogy by Harper Keenan and Lil Miss Hot Mess

The FSF podcast episode with Fifi Benham

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