In the feminist classroom we focus on decentering authority and power by valuing, empowering and encouraging experiential knowledge of students allowing for critical thinking and engagement in, or challenging of, ideas, theories and thought processes presented by the professor/teacher. Student resistance, monist thoughts, racist/sexist assumptions, or reproduction of dominant ideologies (through subtle and not so subtle ways) complicate this decentering of power. How as feminist teachers do, or can, we navigate between both a decentering of power/valuing of students' experiential knowledge and still work towards an anti-sexist, -homophobic, -racist, -classist, -ageist, -ability(ist?) course? In other words, what strategies can we use to maintain a feminist pedagogy valuing experiential knowledge of our students when our students come from, are vested in, informed by, marred by, or are products of an otherwise racist, sexist, classist, homophobic, ageist and ability(ist?) society?
This is a quick write that does not have to be shared; it is a personal self-reflection that might illustrate or highlight some of your own assumptions, fears or investment in power. Donadey's piece examines how fear can inform student resistance to anti-racist or anti-colonial theory. Fear can come across as defensiveness, anger, and refusal. She discusses ideas of unsettling assumptions, solipsism, vested privileges, and reaffirming the myths that justify one's dominance. She also mentions that a truly radical pedagogy "would integrate emotions in the epistemological model". As such, take a few moments to think about a time in a class, CR group, or other discussion wherein you found yourself as angry, defensive, or refusing to engage with the material. Why? Thinking back now, was the material challenging a privilege in which you were/are invested? How did/n't this change your perspective on something? What did your anger, resistance, or refusal to engage reveal about yourself?