Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 1981


In women's studies conferences during the past few years, I have heard many descriptions of pedagogical approaches to specific student groups—working women, displaced homemakers, business majors, and so on. I admire and learn from these presentations and at the same time I am uneasy. For some reason my classes are never like those described. The longer I teach them, the less homogeneous they seem. I am working out my role as a women's studies teacher in a university in which—as in most others, I suspect—no class consists of just working-class women, just reentry women, just Native American women. It is time to discuss the work of the feminist teacher in a mixed classroom, where any constituent group may be a minority-and the smallest consistent minority group is feminist students.

When the field of women's studies began its phenomenal growth about ten years ago, teachers and students alike were beginners in a process of self-education. Most of us had been socialized as "traditional women"; we learned together what that meant. By the time women's studies classes were offered in our region—the Bible Belt—there were valuable resources, printed and experiential, to facilitate this reeducational process. Our first classes were demanded by women who had learned feminism from books and xeroxed essays and who had experienced its practical necessities in the state legislature, in marriage, in consciousness-raising groups. These women, self-educated feminists like their teachers, filled our first classes.



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