Pedagogy and Authority: Lessons from Feminist and Cultural Studies, Postmodernism and Feminist Pedagogy
How is knowledge produced and reproduced in the emancipatory classroom of the 1990s? During the 1980s, a substantial body of literature has produced an educational discourse variously named as critical or radical pedagogy. What it advocates is that an effectively inclusive pedagogy must give up unilinear transmission models and, instead, opt for a student-centred pedagogy which teaches with and toward students’ cultural experiences and identities. In this way, so the argument goes, students traditionally marginalized by curricular knowledges which exclude them, and silenced because of their status and identity differences, will be given voice and their cultural differences affirmed. Feminist pedagogy and media pedagogies, particularly those based on British cultural studies models, also share this vision. Media education is seen as a form of critical practice, as conducive to dialogue, and as necessarily entailing forms of non-authoritarian, process-based and cooperative learning which draw on students’ experiences with and pleasures derived from texts at which they are expert. Media studies teachers commonly claim that the media and popular culture curriculum invites rather than deters different student voices and interpretations. Hence dialogue is more readily enabled than, say, in a maths, physics or literature class because in those knowledge domains, the teacher is usually the expert and authority. Feminist pedagogy makes similar claims about critical practice and dialogue; the curriculum content of feminist knowledges is seen as reversing women’s silences, and as conducive to generating non-competitive dialogue among women about their shared and different experiences.