On Good Authority: Towards Feminist Pedagogies
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This thesis comprises an analysis of ways to approach developing feminist pedagogies. Its main premise is that given the ideological, political and problematic nature of teaching and learning within educational institutions, it is not possible to define and prescribe a certain set of teaching behaviours that would constitute 'successful feminist pedagogy' in all circumstances. Instead, the thesis explores the changing nature of feminist theories, particularly the shift from essentialist feminism to feminisms of difference. It also considers a range of other influences on feminist teachers as they develop their approaches to teaching. These influences include critical and radical pedagogical theories; the impact of women on the teaching profession; postmodernism; using critique and reflection within the classroom; the nature of relationships in classrooms; the role of teacher education; and developments within English education. Since I am a feminist English teacher, I draw on my own classroom experiences, both at secondary and pre-service teacher education levels. I use these experiences not as models of feminist teaching practice, but as material to reflect on ways in which a feminist teacher might move towards creating intellectual imaginings for changing her classroom work so that it contributes to an ever-evolving vision of a different feminist future. The thesis is also concerned with the processes involved in intellectual work and in becoming a feminist teacher. Within the text I have used both journal writing, and personal reflection on classroom events, to disrupt the otherwise authoritative tendencies of thesis statements. This is why, rather than coming to conclusions about the specific attributes of feminist classrooms, I suggest ways in which feminist teachers can work on their own transition towards reflective, critical and feminist classroom practices.