Feminism in the Classroom

If you’re not hip to Ileana Jiménez’s amazing blog, Feminist Teacher, it’s time. Throughout her thirteen year career, Jiménez has been a leader in the field of social justice education for students of color, LGBT youth, women and girls. She’s also a major advocate of getting intersectional feminism in schools at all grade levels.
In a recent post, she writes about making an argument for getting gender education in the classroom, pre-college. There is so much talk about women’s studies at the university level, that we often lose track of the importance of gender education in the early years. Jiménez asked her students to write a letter to President Obama asking him to “examine the issue of gender and education with a critical eye on the ways in which feminism might be addressed in the curriculum.” Here’s an excerpt from one of her student’s essays:

The first problem that I would like to address is the lack of intersectional feminism within education. Feminism is a wonderful example of how all social injustices interlock. In high schools on down in the education system, children are taught modified African American studies. Students are taught an even more limited version of Women’s Studies. They learn nothing about the struggles of say a Japanese woman during WWII or of an Ethiopian girl’s everyday life.
It is understandable that teachers cannot be expected to cram decades of struggles into 12 years of study. I just feel that there should be more time in the curriculum starting in the lower grades (if they can learn about the slave trade, they can learn about feminism) dedicated to learning about feminism and the goals behind it.

So. Awesome. I wish Ileana Jiménez could be my teacher.

Join the Conversation

  • femme.

    I just feel that there should be more time in the curriculum starting in the lower grades (if they can learn about the slave trade, they can learn about feminism) dedicated to learning about feminism and the goals behind it.
    Right on. :)
    Social justice education, civic literacy, and an awareness of our social and cultural histories are infinitely important. Bringing feminism into America’s classrooms would teach all these. I think it’s an excellent idea and I don’t think it would be that difficult to incorporate feminism into history, civic/politics/government, and literature courses.
    Suggestion: How about adding Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States as required reading for high school history classes?

  • Comrade Kevin

    If we bothered to teach students how to think for themselves and not just memorize, I think very organically they would see the intersections in all disciplines.

  • uberhausfrau

    if you’re waiting until high school to start unlearning american history that defeats the purpose of “starting in the lower grades.”
    i cracked out my PHofUS this thanksgiving when my 3yo came home from his preschool with an “indian feather head-dress” craft.

  • Dena

    I completely agree. And Zinn’s book is phenomenal. I think they should also read Letters from the Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King. And perhaps some pieces by Audre Lorde and Bell Hooks. Feminism should definitely be brought into the classroom. Above all, I think it’s greatest successes would be in analyzing and helping students understand the intersectionality of oppression and the different roots of oppression.
    Excellent! =)