Feminist theory in educational research: Understanding ‘the other’, and expanding multiculturalism in schools.

As the need for multiculturalism in education grows, so does the necessity for a more sincere inclusion and acceptance of ‘the other’: the other belief, the other opinion, the other experience of events.  Could a feminist approach be better equipped at addressing the need for multicultural education?

Feminism represents the empowerment of ‘the governed’; groups who historically have been ignored, misunderstood, or discriminated against.

While I previously have been unfamiliar with the implications of feminist culture in educational research, I now see clear benefits of adhering to this type of viewpoint. Feminism represents the empowerment of ‘the governed’; groups who historically have been ignored, misunderstood, or discriminated against. Thus, feminist educationalist does not only seek to eliminate gender inequalities, but also inequalities based on ethnicity, religion, class, and age. At the very core of feminist theory, lays the belief in true diversity— not merely through the superficial teaching of ‘other’ cultures, but through the implementation of multicultural practices. When schools and education systems are investigated, interpreted, and evaluated in a male-dominated climate, there will inevitably be disregard of the views and needs of minorities and women.

For me, a feminist approach puts new hypotheses and questions on the table, and expands our area of investigation: In which ways are internal dynamics in schools perpetuating social divisions? Can open-mindedness and acceptance be taught? How can students’ silence be interpreted? As feminist theory emphasizes the use of ethnographic methods, I am especially partial to a stronger influence of feminism in educational research methodology. Although objective quantitative inquiry can provide useful information on, say, educational testing methods, I see subjective research as the most reliable way of gaining a more comprehensive understanding of educational systems.

Feminist methodology opens for deeper investigations into internal dynamics and power structures in schools; structures that often work against official curricula, and perpetuate undesirable patterns in society

In a global community tainted by religious conflict, terrorism, and exploitation, ensuring cultural awareness and acceptance among citizens should be a top priority for governments. More specifically, I believe that tolerance of ‘otherness’ must become a vital part of national curricula. Feminist approaches hold significant potential for meeting the moral challenges in educational planning. Also, feminist methodology opens for deeper investigations into internal dynamics and power structures in schools; structures that often work against official curricula, and perpetuate undesirable patterns in society.

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