Re: Answering Back

jane kenway (
Sun, 15 Nov 1998 20:21:15 +1100 (EST)

Hi folks

It is late Sunday afternoon in Australia and we are in the midst of
thinking how to turn our most recent project into a book. On the one hand,
this makes this discussion timely but on the other hand it makes it a bit
difficult to reach back

Susan Smith (we did not receive your first message - gremlins again) asked
>Can you say a bit more about #4 on your list--"resist[ing] the temptation to
>provide our own answers"? What do you mean by that? What would you have
>>said that you didn't say in the book if you had given in to that

We decided not to provide our own answers given that this was a book about
teachers and students (no matter what their political orientations with
regard to gender) answering back to policy makers and gender reformers. We
felt this was necessary in order to show how formulaic policies and
strategies almost never fit particular sites and circumstances. Instead of
supporting people working in schools, these recipes for change leave them
stranded and feeling as if the failures are their own.

Of course, our own answers creep in. For instance in the chapter on emotion
we strongly suggest that gender reformers need to pay much more attention
to the emotional. However, what we don't do is suggest exactly how this
should be done or what it would look like in practice. We say that
pedagogies of the emotions need to be developed by people in schools
themselves who have listened closely to where students and teachers are
coming from on the complicated topic of gender.
Similarly, in the chapter on responsibility we did show a preference for
particular ways of organising school structures and practices which
encouraged teachers to accept repsonsibility for gender reform while
acknowledging that people will necessarily take on this responsibility in
different ways and to different degrees.

In addition, we wanted to avoid the potential paradox of 'unvoicing; the
voices we sought to bring to the surface. Interestingly for us, some of our
feminist peers have felt that we gave too much voice to antifeminist
students and teachers. Some have implied that they would not feel able to
recommend the book because we exposed these voices and were insufficiently
celebratory of feminist achievements in schools. We do not accept this.
Romanticising feminist work in schools does not enhance its pedagogcal
power. Neither does blindness to complexity. Acknowledging and
understanding how difficult change is, is much more likely to be supportive
of gender reformers in schools.

We are not sure if we have answered your question adequately but after all
it is Sunday night!

regards sue and jane

Associate Professor Jane Kenway (Dr)
Director Deakin Centre for Education and Change
Social and Cultural Studies in Education
Faculty of Education
Deakin Univesity

Ph: (03) 5227 1490

Fax: (03) 5227 2014


new message to this message