You Must Eat Your Meat

Sheep Students inlineThe power differentiations in the classroom exist at two levels: one in the mirrored societal hierarchy of the students, the other, embedded in the institution of school itself. Students bring their worlds into the classroom, and though feminist teaching strives to create egalitarian learning environments (Bennet, 1991, Ropers-Huilman, 2000), there is no avoiding the dominant discourse of privileged groups, and the marginalization of the oppressed. The attempts by feminists and critical pedagogues to fully foster the student voice in an egalitarian classroom is impossible, because an egalitarian classroom is a fallacy. As Ellsworth (1989) states, “[c]ritical pedagogues speak of student voices as “sharing” their experiences and understandings of oppression with other students and with the teacher… [y]et White women, women of color, men of color, White men against masculine culture, fat people, gay men and lesbians, people with disabilities, and Jews do not speak of the oppressive formations that condition their lives in the spirit of “sharing”” p. 310. According to Ellsworth, if the marginalized student voice is heard, it is received as defiance, as complaining, or as “talking back”, not as sharing.

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