Her own works praise her : an investigation into the development of ambitious feminist teachers and their resistance to neoliberal mechanisms of curricular and pedagogical control

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2017-05

Authors

Johnson, Heather Scott

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Abstract

The purpose of qualitative case study was to examine the development of activist feminist teachers, their viewpoints and understandings of the current neo-liberal educational system and their methods of resistance to the curricular and pedagogical controls placed upon them. This research was built upon a three part conceptual framework. First of all, that feminist consciousness needs to be nurtured in teachers rather than assumed to be present. Second that the enactment of feminism can take on many forms and is affected by the contexts of era, region and class. Lastly, to recognize as legitimate and effective, feminized forms of resistance which frequently veer from traditional ones and as such tend be dismissed and marginalized.
Using a feminist post-structural theoretical lens, I explored the multiple pathways by which teachers reach a point of feminist consciousness and what were the important factors, which led them to apply these understandings to their work in the classroom. The data analysis revealed the many roads to feminist consciousness and its manifestations. Additionally it also uncovered common threads such as the importance of critical coursework in college, mentors and support networks. Teachers, using their feminist frameworks understood, responded to and resisted the mandated curriculum in a variety of ways. The first was through their content knowledge of both the dominant and counter-narrative. Secondly, they employed feminist pedagogies and fostered strong relationships with their students, which helped create space and acceptance for critical thought. Finally they used their understandings of the current values of the neo-liberal educational system to not only navigate but to leverage this fluency into change for themselves, their curriculum and their students. The goal was not to merely critique the system, but to illustrate real life examples of successful feminist teacher resistance that teachers and teacher-educators could recognize, understand and apply to their own work.

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