Saturday, September 17, 2011

More on the Mother Tongue

I just came across this in a textbook reading I have for English, and it was pretty cool.  It's by this African-American female professor and feminist, Gloria Watkins, who goes by bell hooks in her writing, about women's concerns with teaching Women's Studies in a university setting.  Read more about bell hooks here.

She says, "...A class can still be reinforcing domination, not transforming consciousness about gender, even as the 'personal' is the ongoing topic of conversation.  To have a revolutionary feminist pedagogy we must first focus on the teacher-student relationship and the issue of power.  How do we as feminist teachers use power in a way that is not coercive, dominating?  Many women have had difficulty asserting power in the feminist classroom for fear that to do so would be to exercise domination.

"Yet we must acknowledge that our role as teacher is a position of power over others [(they worry about using the father tongue with these female students in this setting)]... One simple way to alter the way one's 'power' as teacher is experienced in the classroom is not to elect to assume the posture of all-knowing professors... we risk students leaving our classrooms and telling others that we are not prepared.  It is important to make it clear to students that we are prepared and that the willingness to be open and honest about what we do not know is a gesture of respect for them."

Gloria Watkins, or bell hooks

What I was thinking is that bell hooks is saying in a university setting, it's difficult to throw out the idea of teaching using the "father tongue" because if they don't, people won't take the class seriously, but part of the point of their class is to throw out the notion that there is a powerful patriarchal system going on.  bell hooks believes to teach effectively and find a balance between the two, one must be humble about how one teaches - prepared, but ready to learn as well.  Isn't that awesome?  What are your thoughts?

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree. Teachers should humble. Hugh Nibley is a prime example of a humble teacher. He's not afraid to show off his intellect, but at the same time he never really lost that love for learning and placing himself in the position of a humble observer.
    I also think you have to consider the subject that is being taught. It's a lot easier for a philosophy teacher to be open minded towards new ideas rather than a science teacher who is more concerned about concrete scientific laws.