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Feminist Theory - Feminist Pedagogy

Page history last edited by Debra Lee 15 years ago

Feminist Theory/Feminist Pedagogy


     Merriam (2001) mentions feminist pedagogy as a reformulation of an "old" pedagogy to a newer, updated version. I am not sure that I would agree that feminist pedagogy is an "old" perspective, but perhaps it is given the struggle by Susan B. Anthony to obtain the right for women to vote. In the article, in part a review of other articles in the book, Merriam points out that "Elisabeth Hayes's chapter on women learners in this volume advanced our understanding of leamring by questioning some of the popular stereotypes associated with women learners, in particular that they learn best when in relationships with other learners and that they prefer affective and intuitive ways of knowing" (Merriam, 2001, p. 94).


     From classes I have taken at the University of Tennessee, I tend to view feminist pedagogy as an offshoot of critical pedagogy, with all parties seeking equal voices for all students, not just for the privileged. Of course, as an attorney, I also watch as the U.S. Supreme Court in the Bakke case and in the recent decision about reverse discrimination in which the Court in a 5-4 decision held that the white firefighters had been unfairly discriminated against after the results of a promotion test that few minorities had passed were thrown out. I consider myself a feminist, but I am concerned about the pendulum swing back to a more conservative approach to affirmation action and that swings influence on education.


     I came across one woman's view of how she would approach feminist pedagogy in the classroom and find that it meshes with my own attitude toward working with students.


From Penny Welch, University of Wolverhampton, UK (http://pers-www.wlv.ac.uk/~le1810/femped.htm)

Three principles

  • "to strive for egalitarian relationships in the classroom
  • to try to make all students feel valued as individuals 

  • to use the experience of students as a learning resource"


Three prohibitions for teachers in the classroom 

  • "don't dominate
  • don't humiliate

  • don't indoctrinate"



Merriam, S. B. (2001). Something old, something new: Adult learning theory for the twenty-first century. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, (89), San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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