Your responsibilities as teachers at this community college are very important in educating the dedicated students that attend your school. As an aging baby-boomer approaching retirement, no doubt like some of you in this room today, I recognize the importance of providing opportunities for growth and experiential learning in our young adults that will affect not only their lives, but those of everyone else around them. It is this distinguished group of graduates that will become our leaders, policy makers, doctors, lawyers and business people. The focus on learning moving towards a learner-centered approach and away from a teacher based will become increasingly important to this new generation of learners.
Critical pedagogy is defined by philosophical education scholar Henry Giroux (Critical Pedagogy, 2011), as “an educational movement, guided by passion and principle, to help students develop consciousness of freedom, recognize authoritarian tendencies, and connect knowledge to power and the ability to take constructive action”. Many of us who were students of days gone by only know of traditional methods of schooling. What a critical pedagogy approach can do is create a learning environment for those individuals who have been disenfranchised by a traditional teaching methods because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs or cultural beliefs. Such an environment fosters the capacity for critical thinking and reflection. One method of critical pedagogy is the feminist approach. I will explain the root of critical pedagogy in the feminist approach. I will then discuss feminist pedagogy and its practical applications in the classroom. Lastly, I will demonstrate that it is not exclusively for or about women anymore. It is my intention to persuade the members of this distinguished audience about the benefits of adopting feminist pedagogy in their teaching practices.
History of Feminism and Feminist Pedagogy
The feminist movement has a very long and colourful history. What I am about to share with you is by no means an exhaustive description of the movement or its history, however it is important to provide a framework of understanding so that feminist pedagogy can have some contextual meaning.
The earliest recorded incidents of women trying to break down barriers to improve the lives of women occurred in 600 B.C. (Waller, 2005). However, the most significant event and start of the feminist movement as we know it today is the suffrage movement in the early 1900’s, where both women and men with higher education fought for the right for white women to vote. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, feminism picked up steam with anti-Vietnam war protests, hippie sit-ins and bra-burnings. This part of the movement created additional career opportunities and choices about having children, but again, it only did so for white women. Women of colour still had limited opportunity.
The 1990’s brought about more change to the...