Student Resistance to and Teacher Normalisation of Radical Ideologies

By Juliet Perumal.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The feminist teacher is committed to an educational project based on the values of social justice, human rights, relevance, and critical thinking. This means that she educates with the objective of effecting conceptual shifts in her students in accordance with anti discriminatory discourses. In other words, she attempts to normalise feminist sensibilities as a new social ideal by making students sensitive to what they experience in the world and the Word and by encouraging them to examine the dominant discriminatory status quo, and subvert discriminatory social practices thereby defining a new social normative. By exercising her educative power she attempts to provoke students to engage in critical reflection and social activism. However, despite the ‘nobility’ of her educative objectives, teaching is a complex and ambiguous activity; hence defining the place for ideologies in classrooms is a subject fraught with ambiguity and tensions. This holds true for the project of conscientizing and socialising students into feminist and social justice sensibilities.
This paper is based on a narrative study that was conducted with tertiary educators who teach English from a feminist perspective at various universities in Southern Africa. The study was premised on the view that who teaches what, why and how are patently ideological questions that have far reaching personal, professional and pedagogical implications. The study brought to the surface various insights around educator and student identity, ideologies identification, and dis-identification. I have written about these issues in other academic publications (See Perumal, 2004a; 2004b; 2003a; 2003b). This paper, however, focuses specifically on student resistance to radical feminist ideologies. More specifically, in this paper I report on various postures of student resistance, which included students denying, discounting, distancing themselves from feminist teachers’ critique of gender and sexual orientation discrimination or expressing dismay at the enormity of patriarchal oppression.

Keywords: Feminist and Radical Pedagogies, Language and Gender, Student Resistance, Educative Normalisation

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp.211-224. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 650.106KB).

Dr. Juliet Perumal

Lecturer, Wits School of Education, University of Pretoria, Johannesberg, South Africa


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