So, for my “on the side book”, I’m reading Bell Hooks Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope. Here’s some stuff that’ve stood out to me so far:
1. Since well-educated white women with class privilege were uniquely situated to ender the academy via affirmative action policies in far greater numbers than black people, they were in turn able to make affirmative action boost their numbers. As the most immediate beneficiaries of affirmative action, their inclusion served to enhance “white power and privilege” whether they were anti-racist or not. When jobs in the academy, created via the civil rights-inspired affirmative action policies went to white female candidates, white males in power could present themselves as addressing discrimination without really making way for ethnic diversity, or for the inclusion of larger groups of people of color. Feminist women, largely white, who came into the academic workforce in large numbers from the late sixties and on into the eighties, who were radicalized by feminist consciousness raising, challenged patriarchy and really begin to demand changes in curriculum so that it would no longer reflect gender biases. White male academics were far more willing to address gender equality than they were racial equality.
2. As an insurrection of subjugated knowledges, feminist interventions within the academic world had greater impact than Black Studies because white women could appeal to the larger, white female student population. From the onset Black Studies mainly addressed a student constituency made up of black students; feminist studies from the onset addressed white students. Even though Women’s Studies courses initially attracted mostly white female students, usually those with some degree of radical consciousness, as gender equality became more an accepted norm the feminist classroom has grown larger and has attracted a diverse body of white students and students of color. Significantly, feminist professors, unlike most non-feminist Black Studies professors, were much more innovative and progressive in their teaching styles. Students often flocked in droves to feminist classrooms because the schooling there was simply more academically compelling. If this had not been the case it would not have become necessary for mainstream conservative white academics, female and male, to launch a backlash that maligned the Woman’s Studies classroom, falsely presenting it as teaching that they did not need to study anything by white males and insisting that students really had to do no work in these classes. By devaluing the feminist classroom they made students feel they would appear academically suspect if they majored in these alternative disciplines. Of coarse, the feminist classroom was a rigorous place of learning, and as a bonus the teaching style in such classrooms was often less conventional.
3. Conservative manipulation of mass media has successfully encouraged parents and students to fear alternative ways of thinking, to believe that simply taking a Women’s Studies course or an Ethnic Studies course will lead to failure, to not getting a job. These tactics have harmed the movement for progressive education as the practice of freedom, but they have not changed the reality that incredible progress was made. In ‘Teaching Values’ Ron Scapp reminds us: “The antagonism toward and fear of those who ‘question’ had a long (and violent) history That those asking questions today and rejecting the ‘givens’ of our cultural history are seen as pariahs and are under attack should also not be ‘surprising.’ “Scapp calls attention to the fact that the folks who resist progressive education reform “are quick to dismiss or discredit (and sometimes destroy),” but this does not alter the fact that there has been a powerful meaningful insurrection of subjugated knowledges that is liberating and life-sustaining.
Oh this is exciting!! I just started reading her book Teaching to Transgress just this morning! Hell yeah tumblr feminist pedagogy hotness storm!