- Queer Pedagogy
Queer Pedagogyexplores the intersection between queer theoryand critical pedagogy. In doing so, it explores and interrogates the student/teacher relationship, the role of identities in the classroom, the role of eroticism in the teaching process, the nature of disciplines and curriculum, and the connection between the classroom and the broader community with a goal of being both a set of theoretical tools for pedagogical critique / critique of pedagogy and/or a set of practical tools for those doing pedagogical work.
William Pinar, a curriculumtheorist at the University of British Columbia, homosexuality and pedagogy have been linked as far back as the ancient Greeksand Romans. Notions of queer theory in education, however, originate around 1981 with William F. Pinar's "Understanding Curriculum as Gender Text," critiquing the way in which machisimoand masculinityplays out in Marxisteducational theory. In 1982, Meredith Reiniger wrote about misogynythat had been internalized by her secondary English students. In 1983, James Sears wrote an article entitled "Sexuality: Taking off the Masks" for a journal called Changing Schools.
The term "queer pedagogy" itself, however, appears to have originated in 1993 with an article in the Canadian Journal of Education. This article was written by two Canadian professors, Mary Bryson (University of British Columbia)and Suzanne de Castell (Simon Fraser University), who were grappling with
poststructuralistand essentialisttheories of identityin the context of a classroomsetting. They present various techniques that they tried, but eventually conclude that the task is both necessary and impossible, concluding: "Queer pedagogy it is indeed, that, after all, in trying to make a difference we seem only able to entrench essentialist boundaries which continue both to define and to divide us."
Deborah Britzmanwrote an article entitled "Is there a queer pedagogy-- Or, stop reading straight."
In 1998, as part of William Pinar's anthology on Queer Theory in Education, the challenge of articulating a queer pedagogy was taken up by a doctoral student at York University, Susanne Luhmann. In "Queering/Querying Pedagogy? Or, Pedagogy is a Pretty Queer Thing" (part of a larger anthology on Queer Theory in Education), she asks questions such as, "Is a queer pedagogy about and for queer students or queer teachers? Is a queer pedagogy a question of queer curriculum? Or, is it about teaching methods adequate for queer content? Or, about queer learning and teaching-- and what would that mean? Moreover, is a queer pedagogy to become the house pedagogy of queer studies or is it about the queering of pedagogical theory?" She suggests that an "inquiry into the conditions that make learning possible or prevent learning" through exploration of the teacher/student relationships and "the conditions for understanding, or refusing, knowledge."
In 2002, Tanya Olson (who teaches Developmental English at Vance-Granville Community College) further explored the teacher/student relationship in an article in
Bad Subjects, an online cultural studiesjournal. In this article, entitled "TA/TG: The Pedagogy of the Cross-Dressed", Olson compared the experience of being a butch woman and not knowing which restroom and whether one was male or female to use to the experience of being a Teaching Assistant (TA) and not being fully a student or a teacher, drawing on it for inspiration towards creating a new conception of pedagogy. She concludes, "Maybe re-defining TAs in the academy will help stop the sense of masquerade that currently characterizes their work. No matter how much they challenge accepted cultural standards or straddle societal binary divisions, everyone deserves a bathroom they can call home. From there we can create a pedagogy of the cross-dressed."
Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
* Queer Theory in Education. Ed. William F. Pinar. 1998.
* Sexing the Teacher: School Sex Scandals and Queer Pedagogies, by Sheila L. Cavanagh http://www.ubcpress.ca/search/title_book.asp?BookID=4584
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