The article aims to present the initial proposal of this research on gender education, such questions as the teaching role, regarding male and female teachers who work in the Early Childhood Education, considering the hegemony of the gender paradigm, historically constructed, and presented by Guacira Louro (2014). The concepts of masculinities, femininities, body, identities and language when interacting, fragment the idea of universality of the subject, corroborate the development of this study. The methodological approach, of a qualitative nature, will be a questionnaire survey following the analysis of the content. It is hoped that this study can collaborate with a plural view of genders in society.
Keywords: gender, teacher, Early Childhood Education.
Initially, the study of gender, as well as other social markers such as class and race, needs to be related to the moment of transition that we are going through. The world is living moments of crisis, in the broadest sense that this word can present: political, financial, and social crisis. Immersed in this context of collapse, we often ask ourselves, both if there is a solution to the situation we are experiencing and how we are going to survive in this apparently chaotic context. These and other uncertainties populate our minds, inhabit our dreams, (dis)guide our steps. However, the crisis is the driving element of significant changes for the individual and for the collectivity. Maybe there are no exact answer for such questions, but the solution, or at least a possible path to it, goes through the school, which is, according to Paulo Freire (1993), the space of change. It is not plausible, therefore, any plan of action that would exclude or limit its action in a context of full transformation.
We must, however, pay attention to the kind of school we are referring to. In the context of this discussion, the school is not a restrictive and coercive space, capable of manufacturing only submissive bodies, according to the concept of docility presented by Foucault: "It is docile a body that can be submitted, that can be used, that can be transformed and perfected." (2019, p.134). This model proposes only to reverberate a hierarchical and exclusionary structure. The transformation, on the other hand, presupposes a polyphonic school, whose educational practices enable diversity, give wings to the creativity of its agents, and consider their subjectivities. Therefore, it is essential to understand, among other issues, who is this teacher that arrives at the Basic Education classes, in particular in early Childhood Education, the segment to be analyzed in this work.
The research in question, initiated through a graduate program in Education (a Stricto Sensu graduate program - master's degree), by the University of the State of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), in 2020, addresses gender in everyday school life and aims to question the teaching role, with regard to male and female teachers working in the Childhood Education, in the municipal public network of Niterói (RJ-Brazil), paying attention to the hegemony of gender paradigm, historically constructed, as presented by Guacira Louro (2014). According to the author, the contemporary concept of gender can be used "as an analytical tool that is, at the same time, a political tool" (p.25), by rejecting, in this way, the determinist and biological character that is constantly reinforced by discursive practices in order to designate sex or sexual difference.
This study arose from the observation as a member in the Board of School Management of the Municipal Public Education Foundation (FME) in Niterói (RJ/Brazil), at the teacher assignment sector. This work enabled some findings, among them, the growing demand and performance of male teachers in the first years of basic education, from the public tender held in 2016, by the aforementioned institution, characterizing a change in the markedly feminine universe such as the teaching job in the Childhood Education. Simultaneously to this fact, some concerns were raised: the dismissal of teachers, especially men, without substantiated facts, legitimately approved and called by the aforementioned public tender and also the subtle function deviation of these individuals from the classroom as full-time regular teachers to other functions within the school unit.
When we take a look at our past, it is possible to see the leading role given to men in all the achievements consecrated by humanity. According to Costa (1995), it was no different with the teaching profession. Starting from Antiquity up to the beginning of Modernity, it is possible to observe the exercise of this office performed predominantly by men: philosophers, religious or laymen, according to the historical period analyzed. Women take over the instruction of schoolchildren from the second half of the 19th century on, due to several political, social and economic factors, and men start exercising activities elected as being of greater social notoriety. In this period, there was a need to expand, at least in Europe, the number of educated people, so that they could supply the demands that emerged along with the industrialization process. For Hypólito (1991), this fact triggered a process of devaluation of the teaching profession, since the female work in the patriarchal society is considered "as less prestigious, less professional" (p.15). For the author, there is a close relationship between paid work and women's teaching, if we consider the modernity project that advocates the accumulation of wealth and social exclusion.
However, what seemed improbable happened: the ruin of modernity. With it, institutions such as schools and, consequently, their strategies of transmission, control and domination also sank. In face of this scenario of rupture, which began in the second half of the 20th century, the (indispensable) inversion of many roles is observed. Women move from the private space with their domestic activities and so-called menial tasks to the public space by occupying traditionally male positions. Currently, men who, in the beginning, essentially performed functions that were presumed to require more rational capabilities or physical strength, are slowly resuming, among other occupations, pedagogical tasks in the educational process at school classes, especially in the early years.
With the arrival of post-modernity, there was a decentering, a fragmentation, and a displacement of identity, in a universalizing perspective. This discussion leads us to the fact that the old identities, which for so long "stabilized the social world, are in decline, giving rise to new identities and fragmenting the modern individual, until then seen as a unified subject" (Hall, 1999, p.7). Pereira (2004, p.97) states that the crisis of postmodernity is the "crisis of the subject, since the structures that solidified it were broken". Some conceptions that, according to Hall (1999), influenced these changes were Karl Marx's thesis, Sigmund Freud's theory, Ferdinand de Saussure's linguistics, historian Michel Foucault's revolutionary ideas, the feminist and racial movements, and the globalization process.
Once the solid identity structure of the modern subject is split, we can understand it as a construct formed by different perspectives, and gender, beyond a merely biological classification, is one of the faces of this identity(s). Therefore, we need to understand it, according to Louro, as a constitution "with or on sexed bodies, i.e., biology is not denied, but emphasized, deliberately, the social and historical construction produced on biological characteristics" (2014, p. 26).
However, the rupture with a hegemony built for centuries in relation to genders is not something simple to consolidate, since the values imposed by patriarchy reverberate in almost all social instances. In his studies on masculinity Connell (1995) states that:
There is a conventional narrative about how masculinities are constructed. In this narrative, every culture has a definition about conducts and feelings are appropriate for men. Boys are pressured to act and feel this way and to distance themselves from the behavior of women, girls, and the femininity, understood as the opposite. (p.190)
In parallel to the masculinity model mentioned by Connell (1995), there was the construction of female subjectivities, both forged by power relations in the molds elaborated by Foucault. As Costa (1995, p. 180) states: "This power relations web produces female subjectivities which are conducive to the acceptance of secondary, segregated roles, both in family relations and in work relations".
Considering Connell's (1995) statement about masculinity and juxtaposing it to the role socially and historically attributed to women, as exposed by Costa (1995), one can question if there is, in fact, a gender that is better suited to the teaching profession or if there is a belief that there is only one gender capable of teaching with more efficiency and care. Both conjectures need to be analyzed as social elaborations aimed at maintaining power.
According to Louro (2014), there is no consensus among scholars about education following a male or female pattern. Some defend its femininity, since activities are performed which imply a certain degree of care, surveillance, affection in a tone very close to that practiced by women in the family. Others argue that, because it is a space where canonized, rational, scientific knowledge is dealt with, school is primarily masculine. Perhaps school is all and none of these things at the same time. The concern with imprinting polarities, masculine or feminine, to school ends up depriving it of its main function: the formation of individuals, permeated by their singularities, and their effective participation in society.
Thus, the goal of this research is to identify how teachers, men and women who work in Childhood Education, recognize and deal with the gender perspective in the organization of the teaching work, in face of the conservative movement that is growing in the Brazilian society, through a scenario of apology to hatred, violence, and discrimination. For the proper discussion of this research under construction, some concepts were considered essential: gender, masculinities, femininities, body, identities, and language.
The first concept studied is that of gender, conceived in this research not as a closed and deterministic concept, impregnated with biological scientism that explains it by a binary and antagonistic perspective of the body: male and female, man and woman. Drawing on the studies of Joan Scott (1995), Guacira Louro (2014), Raewyn Connell (2016), and Judith Butler (2019), I employ gender as a category of analysis, generated within political and social relations, through inequalities that are grounded by a centralizing notion of power, in this case, hegemonic male power, are realized.
Within the formulations about gender, other essential conceptions emerge for the development of this study, in this case, femininities and masculinities. According to a postmodern view, the conception of both concepts requires the detachment of the ontological ideal, that is the search, usually based on a centrality, about the origin of what it is to be a man or a woman. Louro (2014) points out that feminities are constituted in plural ways; therefore, they must take into account different positions, confrontations, ruptures, opportunities; in short, different ways of being and feeling in the world. For Robert Connel (1995), there is a hegemonic masculinity built in a permanent removal and overcoming of the feminine, as we standardize behaviors through discourses such as: boys don't cry, don't play with dolls, don't dance ballet, among other actions attributed only to the feminine. According to Connel, there are, however, other ways to construct and live masculinity, the so-called peripheral masculinities, for example: the experience of identifying oneself as black, gay, and a kindergarten teacher. I emphasize, however, that one cannot think of femininities or masculinities that confront the gender hegemony if we do not consider both as categories in constant intersection with other structures that compose them: social class, ethno-racial, generational, sexual and religious, among others.
Another concept to be reflected upon is the identity, or rather, identities. For Stuart Hall (1999), identities are identifications in progress; they present themselves in a transitory character because of the aforementioned social markers: class, gender, race, ethnicity, age group, and others. This means that no one assumes a single identity all the time, we recognize ourselves in different circumstances and in different ways, a man and a woman are never or will never be just a man and a woman, these individuals become men and women during the different journeys they go through. Simultaneously, besides constituting themselves as man and woman, the same movement is conceived when they recognize themselves in different situations as teacher, father/mother, black, elderly, gay/lesbian, and many other possibilities of existence. It is important to emphasize that this kind of understanding breaks with the notion of center structured in the image of the white, westerner, heterosexual, urban middle-class man (Louro, 2020).
I reiterate that both femininities and masculinities are conceived by different ways of being and feeling the world, a fact that is only possible because of the existence of a body. A possible survey on the gender history, its emergence and applications, almost inevitably slips into the history of the body, which ceased to be only carnal (christian concept of body in the Middle Ages) to become a sexed body from a scientific discourse that emerged in the 18th and 19th centuries, as Foucault (1999) points out. The scientific analyses and characterizations of the body were also responsible for the creation of social roles assigned to each of these bodies: the man's body was shaped to be a warrior, virile and protector of his family, while the woman's body was molded for the exercise of motherhood and home care. This study overlaps with a traditional definition of body, since it distances itself from the view of disciplinarily gendered bodies, and emphasizes the need to understand them based on their potentialities. In this way, one can consider that the body is not a linear and dichotomous organism, as we have been trained to conceive it. Several physical, emotional, and cultural experiences go through it, continuously modifying it in a composition of infinite character, a fact that makes it a paradoxical element because is always in transformation. Thus, this research leads to the contestation of biomedical models and distinctions of the body, when it analyzes gender structures and socio-cultural discourses that seek to impose molds on the body experience.
Also in this process, the language assumes a leading role because it is configured as a mediator of social relations, by naming creatures and creating communicative statements. According to Michel Foucault (2014), the discourse is responsible for maintaining the social order, establishing standards and acceptable limits for the group. These notions based on the discourse are produced, most of the time, by those who hold knowledge in this group, in this case, institutional, scientific knowledge, hence the intimate connection between discourse and power. The dominant class, or as Paulo Freire (2019) would prefer to call it, the oppressor, imposes on the oppressed, the most vulnerable bodies in contexts of inequality, a highly conservative discourse that conveys, often covertly, an ideology of superiority; That is a series of historically constituted statements, which circumscribe us in a hegemonic view, where men are not able to take care of small children, only female teachers have the legitimacy to exercise such function, because they are seen as almost natural substitutes for mothers, especially in the Childhood Education. as Carvalho (1999) suggests.
The research is being built through a qualitative methodology (Minayo, 2001) that seeks to understand and interpret individuals through their experiences as Preschool Education teachers. When starting a dialogue with the professionals working in the education system of the studied municipality, three Municipal Units of the Childhood Education (UMEI) belonging to the public school system of Niterói were delimited for the study because they are the only ones, among those that offer exclusively this teaching segment, which have men working as regents in classes of Childhood Education (GREI). All the units in question are located in the northern part of the city, two in Pendotiba and one in Fonseca. Within this context, especially because gender, as the object of this study, exposes aspects from cultural and social scope, we will use as research instruments, in addition to data collection from the FME files, the interviews conducted with male and female teachers of this school segment, Childhood Education.
After mapping the number of male and female teachers in the Municipal Education of Niterói System working at Childhood Education, identifying the inclusion/exclusion processes of male teachers in "territory" constructed as female, as well as characterizing other ways of exercising new forms of both male and female subjectivities that, in some way, depart from conventional gender models produced by modernity, it is expected that this research will contribute to the construction of a more plural vision and, consequently, a more dialogical and egalitarian action about gender by the social actors involved in this process.
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Marcia de Oliveira Romão
Amazon theatre in Brazil Image Attribution: Ivo Brasil, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons