Re: "feminist pedagogy"

Linda Purrington (
Fri, 13 Mar 1998 07:58:08 -0800

I agree that sometimes what is taught is hogwash, and thenotion that it
is feminist pedagogy to do nothing but cooperative, sharing work, for
example, is insulting. It is also insulting to phrase math problems in
terms of measuring cloth to cut for your dress, or recipes, as if girls
were destined for the kitchen or the boudoir. But it is also insulting
for an algebra teacher to set up written problems involving all the male
faculty in a baseball game, and to discuss the effects of aging male
power and youthful male speed, dressed up with testosterone-laced
nicknames--and expect the girls to be delighted. Mind you, my daughter
is an athlete--she would have been intrigued by an athletic problem. I
have watched my daughter's passionate desire to become a mathematician
in third grade, dwindle and fail under such approaches, to zilch. The
fact is, far more girls have been lost as mathematicians than boys, to
bad teaching. In the future, we need to provide gender-free teaching,
and that includes challenging the girls, allowing them independent work,
and providing pedagogy that does not link achievement and status and
rewards to the rotten-at-the-teeth system of gender discrimination that
hurts ALL our children. Linda <>

JenPiazza at Internet wrote:
> The discussion on single sex classrooms has been more than lively. I have
> learned a great deal from everyone. As I have been reading and having
> discussions regarding this in my own geographical area, I have been coming
> back to one opinion, and since you asked for opinions, I am sharing. I have a
> son who learns best from non-traditional methods of teaching. My son is a
> fourth grade student. He has been taught to dislike reading, math and science
> (as presented in school) even though he is a very good student. I find this
> most interesting (being an elementary educator) because I watch my child in
> the home while playing and everything he likes to do when given a choice is
> math or science related. And he loves it if I read to him and will stop
> anything to be read to. Again, if you ask him if he likes science or wants to
> study math, etc., he firmly and quickly says he hates both. And getting him
> to read independently just doesn't happen without it being a requirement.
> My concern here (or opinion) is that, when I have researched single sex
> schools and programs, many of them are teaching reading, math and science in a
> non-traditional way, (some might say using feminist pedagogy). This non-
> traditional praxis is something my male child does not get to take part in (if
> the program is for girls only) and we are losing this very rich scientific and
> mathematical mind as we continually lose and have lost those of women. I
> guess what I am trying to say is that there have been many men in our society
> who have been left behind for a variety of reasons, because they have do not
> fit the "traditional" view for male. I feel we leave this male out in many of
> our discussions on equity. Trust me, I am definitely in support of ALL we do
> and need to continue to do for women in all facets of life to promote a more
> equitable life, however, I do not believe gender equity starts or stops there.
> I feel that we should target the way teachers teach and allow all students,
> male and female to benefit from pedagogy that promotes a desire for
> mathematics and science. We forget sometimes that women are not always/only
> the ones left out of these fields. There are many inequities to both sexes
> and besides the legalities of single sex education, it is not solving the
> problems and it may be creating even more.
> In our efforts to encourage women and girls in non-traditional careers at my
> institution we have sent out fliers, etc. that encourage these students to
> apply, but not in exclusion of others.
> Jenny Piazza

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