Feminist Theory- Final Version

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Feminist Theory:

Feminist Theory Presented by Alice Gonzales, Charity Fisher, Veronica Reyes, and Courtland Wirth Education 573 Dr. Ruth Givens

What is Feminist Theory?:

What is Feminist Theory? Feminist analyses of education and the "feminization of teaching" tend to place great emphasis on a two-pronged question: When and why did teaching become a feminized "semi-profession;" and what has been the impact on the roles of teachers as a result of this feminization? ( Schugurensky, 2002 ). Women Students in 1928

Feminist Theory (cont’d):

Feminist Theory (cont’d) In a sense, educational feminism is a subset of critical pedagogy since women and their concerns have not had an equal voice in male-dominated societies. It has created curricular innovations such as women’s studies and sought to increase the number of women in the educational power structure (Knight, 1998).

Feminist Theory (cont’d):

Feminist Theory (cont’d) “In short, feminist advocates are acutely aware of the role of personal relationships, aesthetics, and emotion in the construction of knowledge within the context of schooling, and they want to see such concerns receive a larger place in educational experience” (Knight, 1998, p. 133).

Some Historical Background:

Some Historical Background The rise in the number of women employed in the teaching profession was related not only to the tremendous need for public school teachers in the late 1800s, but also to a lack of funds to pay that growing body of educational employees ( Schugurensky, 2002 ). By 1950, as ethnic minority groups and women sensed a growing gap in educational opportunities, campaigns to provide better educational opportunities for their children became a critical social issue. Lacking access, for the most part, to voting power, political offices, finance, and the higher reaches of industry, parents, community leaders, and ordinary citizens focused on the right to equal educational opportunity as the centerpiece of the larger crusade for justice and equality ( Mondale, 2001).

Historical Background (cont’d) :

Historical Background (cont’d) While feminism in education is concerned with such issues as representation and power, it also has a more complex and subtle side to its agenda. Some advocates argue that women’s experiences, values, responsibilities, and activities need to be integrated into the curriculum (Knight, 1998). One such advocate is Nel Noddings. We will begin our introduction to a few influential feminist theorists by looking at some of her thoughts.

Nel Noddings:

Nel Noddings In The Challenge to Care in Schools, Noddings argues for restructuring education on an ethic of caring that flows out of women’s maternal practices and feminist consciousness. She critiques Kantian ethics as a narrowly masculine model for making moral decisions because of its reliance on rationalism alone for making decisions. Her ethic of caring envisions educators (male and female) in the position of “one-caring”, putting the student’s interest first as the one being cared for (Caring, 1984).

Jane Roland Martin:

Jane Roland Martin In the United States, Jane Roland Martin was one of the first professional
philosophers of education to bring a feminist perspective to her work. Reflecting on the research she conducted in the late 1970s and early 1980s,
Martin (1999) noted the absence of discussions by or about women: “Whether one was thinking of women as the subjects or the objects of
educational thought, for all intents and purposes we had no place at all” ( p. 150 ).

Madeleine Grumet:

Madeleine Grumet Throughout Bitter Milk, Grumet notes the pervasive impact of patriarchy on the social construction of teaching. Additionally, she attempts to draw "that knowledge of women's experience of reproduction and nurturance into the epistemological systems and curricular forms that constitute the discourse and practice of public education" (1998, p. 3). In this sense, Grumet not only considers the emergence of the "feminization of teaching" and the limiting effects of patriarchy on teacher's work; she also attempts to reconceptualize women's experiences as positive sites of power and creativity which influence their teaching practices.

Maxine Greene:

Maxine Greene “There have always been newcomers in this country; there have always been strangers. There have always been young persons in our classrooms we did not, could not see or hear.” “We want our classrooms to be just and caring, full of various conceptions of the good. We want them to be articulate, with the dialogue involving as many persons as possible, opening to one another, opening to the world. And we want them to be concerned for one another, as we learn to be concerned for them. We want them to achieve friendships among one another, as each one moves to a heightened sense of craft and wide-awakeness, to a renewed consciousness of worth and possibility.” ( Greene, 2000, p. 155 )

Feminism and Education:

Feminism and Education Nel Noddings argues for, “the restructuring education on an ethic of caring that flows out of the women’s maternal practices and feminist consciousness” (Knight 2006). Here we can see how important the feminine role is to humanity and the recommendation to integrate such values and practices into education.

More thoughts on the contributions of feminism – Carol Gilligan:

More thoughts on the contributions of feminism – Carol Gilligan The failure to see the different reality of women's lives and to hear the differences in their voices stems in part from the assumption that there is a single mode of social experience and interpretation (Gilligan, 1982). “As we have listened for centuries to the voices of men and the theories of development that their experience informs, so we have come more recently to notice not only the silence of women but the difficulty in hearing what they say when they speak. Yet in the different voice of women lies the truth of an ethic of care, the tie between relationship and responsibility, and the origins of aggression in the failure of connection” (Gilligan, 1982).

A Biblical Perspective:

A Biblical Perspective “She is clothed with strength and dignity” Proverbs 31:25. When she speaks, her words are wise, and kindness is the rule when she gives instruction” Proverbs 31:26. God made women to be strong, kind, caring, and wise. It is these characteristics of women that the feminist perspective desires to carry into education

The Value of Equal Education - Feminism and Beyond:

The Value of Equal Education - Feminism and Beyond Noddings claims, “For how he feels about himself in general- as student, as physical being, as friend- contributes to the enhancement of the dimminuation of the ethical ideal” (Noddings, 2003). “She meets him as he is and finds something admirable and, as a result, he may find the strength to become even more admirable” (Noddings, 2003). We as educators must make sure that we build up all of our students and treat them equally If we do not support a student because of gender, race, ethnicity, or cultural background, we can greatly hinder the achievement of our students

Feminism and Education (continued):

Feminism and Education (continued) Feminism has greatly changed the curriculum in our schools today The creation of women’s studies Feminist literature in the classroom The inclusion of female leaders and accomplishments into the content standards The movement to encourage women in higher education The power structure in education has been challenged and has been effective (Knight, 2006 ). U.S. Secretary of Education, Margrett Spellings

Critique & Perspective:

Critique & Perspective Feminism Theory differs from many other theories in that it brings awareness to subjects that otherwise have no voice. It brings acknowledgement and tools to the educators so that they may better assist the students in their search of knowledge.

Feminism vs. Other Theories:

Feminism vs. Other Theories Feminism takes Dewey’s view of considering virtues as working adaptations of personal capacities with environing forces. It expands this insight to emphasize the role of our partners in interaction as a central factor in environing forces. The Feminist Theory advocates values & learning as being interdependent.

Feminism vs. Other Theories (cont’d):

Feminism vs. Other Theories (cont’d) Accepting moral interdependence would force us to reject Kant’s claim that it is contradictory to make ourselves responsible for another’s moral perfection. Another one of Kant’s theories that contradicts with Feminist theory is the self-imposed moral law.

Why Does Feminism Need To Be A Part of Education?:

Why Does Feminism Need To Be A Part of Education? Feminist theory came about from the educational problems that were arising in schools. It acknowledges personal relationships, aesthetics, and emotions as a source for context needed in schools. Feminist Theorists want to see these issues included in the school experience, especially the curriculum.


References Gilligan, C (1982). In a Different Voice . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Green, Maxine (2000). Releasing the Imagination: Essays on Education, the Arts, and Social Change. Wiley, John & Sons, Inc. Grumet, M. (1988). Bitter Milk: Women and Teaching . Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press. Knight, George R. (1998). Philosophy and education: An introduction in Christian perspective. (3rd ed.). Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press. Martin, J. R. (1999). Women, Schools, and Cultural Wealth. In Titone, Connie and Maloney, Karen E. (Eds.), Women's Philosophy of Education:Thinking Through our Mothers. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Merrill. Mondale, S., Patton, S.B. (2001). School: The story of American public education. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. Noddings, N. (1984). Caring: A feminine approach to ethics and moral education. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

References, continued:

References, continued Noddings, N. (1992). The Challenge to Care in Schools: An Alternative Approach to Education. New York: Teachers College Press, Columbia University. Schugurensky, Daniel (Ed.). (2002). History of Education: Selected Moments of the 20th Century. Retrieved on May 28, 2007 from: http://fcis.oise.utoronto.ca/~daniel_sc/assignment1/1988 Tyndale House Publishers, (1996). Bible . Wheaton, Il: Tyndale House Publishers.

Additional Recommended Reading:

Additional Recommended Reading Acker, S. (1994). Gendered Education: Sociological Reflections on Women, Teaching and Feminism . Philadelphia: Open University Press. Greene, Maxine. (1973). Teacher as stranger. New York: Wadsworth Lather, P. (1987). The Absent Presence: Patriarchy, Capitalism, and the Nature of Teacher Work . Teacher Education Quarterly. 14(2): 25-38. Miller, Janet L. (1987). Women as teachers/researchers; gaining a sense of ourselves. Teacher Education Quarterly, 14(2), 52-58. Nicholson, L. (1980). Women and Schooling. Educational Theory , 30(3): 225-234. Rice, Suzanne (1999). Feminism and the Philosophy of Education. Retrievable at http://www.ffst.hr/encyclopaedia/feminism.htm

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