Reifying, Disorienting and Restoring Gender Binaries in Dialogic Literature Discussions

Aviv Orner, Hadar Netz, Adam Lefstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dialogic pedagogy aims to bring multiple voices and perspectives into conversation, to create a classroom environment inclusive of multiple student identities, and to challenge hegemonic approaches to knowledge. As such, it seems particularly well-suited for interrogating gender binaries and enhancing gender equity. Through micro-ethnographic discourse analysis of video-recorded literacy lessons, this study examines how traditional gender categories were reified and/or disrupted in literacy discussions in four Israeli elementary school classrooms experimenting with dialogic pedagogy. We found students and teachers frequently relying upon gender stereotypes in the participant examples they offered and in their interpretations of the story, “Fly, Eagle, Fly,” in class discussions. Originally framed as a parable of transformation and growth, the story unexpectedly provided an avenue to explore topics such as gender, transgenderism, and transsexuality. Sporadic instances arose in the discussion in which students subverted traditional binary gender constructs. These fleeting moments of disorientation underscored dialogic pedagogy's capacity to challenge gender norms. However, students and teachers treated transgenderism as taboo, and the topic's explicit consideration generated anxiety, with the teachers and some of the students trying to silence non-heteronormative voices. Ultimately, teachers reinforced interpretations that allowed the gender order to be restored and seemed relieved when they were able to move on from the gender trouble episode. The study highlights the potential of dialogic pedagogy to challenge the heterosexual matrix and promote gender equity. However, it also demonstrates the importance of paying greater attention to gender issues in the development of dialogic pedagogy.

Original languageEnglish
JournalReading Research Quarterly
StateAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • classroom discourse
  • dialogic pedagogy
  • gender binaries
  • literacy instruction
  • queer literacy studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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