Laura Micciche’s chapter “Feminist Pedagogies” in A Guide to Composition Pedagogies reviews and reflects on intersections between feminism and composition pedagogy. She discusses many prominent theorists and their ideas of implementing feminist pedagogy within writing classrooms, which I found to be useful. In this blog post, I will discuss my thoughts on the pedagogical strategies that were particularly prominent to me.

First of all, I found Catherine Lamb’s collaborative writing activities insightful, but I thought that the connections to feminist pedagogy could have been clearer. Micciche stated that “the feminist outcomes of [Lamb’s activities] include and awareness of knowledge ‘as cooperatively and collaboratively constructed'” (132), but I was wondering how the feminist outcomes could be more emphasized within the activity. Of course, females and males would be given equal roles to work together and guide their learning, but are there other benefits of collaborative learning specifically within feminist pedagogy?

I think that the most significant role that collaborative learning can play is active discussions about feminism, which bell hooks touches on when she considers the role of the classroom as a “catalyst for new thinking, for growth” (134). I think that exploring and perhaps changing perspectives is vital in composition classrooms, and reading this chapter made me wonder what other classroom activities and writing assignments can help students do this. One method from the chapter that comes to mind is John Alexander’s narrative assignment that required students to write stories from the perspective of the opposite gender. It’s interesting because it requires students to consider the differences in experiences and identity that the opposite sex may have. I think this assignment may be more effective if it is centered around a particular idea or issue so that students can compare and contrast different perspectives surrounding the issue. This also doesn’t necessarily have to be limited to gender, either; I think it would be interesting to incorporate different ethnic groups or ideologies.

Additionally, I thought that Joan Bolker’s strategy of assigning writing that challenges the “good girl” complex was interesting because it helps students reconceptualize the notion of what women “should” write and think about. Are there any downsides to this? I was thinking that perhaps some students may not feel comfortable with writing about some of these topics, but it seems like a great deal of choice is involved. Another issue that comes to mind is students who are resistant to feminist pedagogy or come to the class with prejudices towards specific genders. These students may not be as receptive to assignments that require them to overcome gender stereotypes. Even my brother thinks that gender roles are static, so I think he would have a difficult time with assignments that challenge his thoughts. Not too long ago, he told me that women should not be politicians because they let their emotions get in the way. How can composition instructors address students like my brother who may be too stubborn to challenge societal stereotypes?

Questions:

How can composition instructors help students overcome prejudices that they bring with them into the classroom?

What are some other examples of activities and writing assignments that help students think about situations or issues from other perspectives?

What can be done about students who are resistant to feminist pedagogy?

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