Home Forums Dialogue Portal Dialogue Portal: Part 2 POSITIONALITY

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    Feminist inquiry is concerned with the politics of location (i.e., positionality) and politics of knowledge production. What are the challenges, opportunities, and strategies for bringing such inquiry into art education?


    The feministic teaching method put forward by Chicago sees through the establishment and changes of existing social relation, culture, statues,system,structure, etc. From a individual physiological perspective. Starting from individual experience, it analyzes the social, cultural and financial capitals behind as well as the interactions in between. In this way, it perceives the relations between the world, the society and the individual, creating a unique way to express art.

    1.This discussion begins with the trend of artistic development to endow everyone with the right to express himself/herself. “popular sovereignty”, “civil participation’, “grass-rooted culture” and other definitions like that all indicate the popularization of art. The bounds of art have shown changes that are anti-traditional, anti-regular and anti-authoritative. And the populism spirit these changes gave rise to benefits the development of art by promoting art education and revolution.

    2.This discussion gives rise to reflections about races and the cultures behind. The importance of race becomes the main purpose of education; artistic creativity becomes the prime index for the value of ethnical heritage. It encourages the country’s self-confidence and self-respect at a national level.

    3. In terms of group capital and individual capital,group capital, as a system based on internal relations, has a influence that is much larger than unrelated individuals. An established group share the same social target and value standard, which contributes to a strong bond that links all the members. As a result, it is much easier to change individual’s habits by changing the group’s habits on the whole. The discussion of gender equality in female groups helps to increase the influence of art on individuals and even the whole society.

    Jackie Geiple

    1. Incorporating a still somewhat touchy and debated subject into an art classroom without being accused of ‘having a hidden agenda’ or ‘trying to brainwash students’ or ‘forcing personal opinions into curriculum where they don’t belong’…I know it is a real issue, and should be discussed, however…I’d be lying if I said I was 100% comfortable discussing it with students. Some people hear ‘feminist’ and jump to conclusions because it is usually associated with one-sided extremes. I personally don’t like the whole ‘feminist’ label because it just comes across as so one-sided…I recognize differences between masculine and feminine experiences, however, I feel that terms like this imply further divisions and encourage people to ‘choose sides’…when really, we should all recognize and be more understanding of each while promoting humanism. Part of me would be worried that students would twist things, parents would get involved, cause issues with administration, etc. I see so many stories of teachers getting into trouble for silly things just because students/parents could twist the teacher’s true intentions into something extreme.
    2. Students might not be aware that there is ‘another side of things’ because they have grown up in a culture, environment, etc. that leans one way more than the other. They might not understand how there could be another side, or they might deny it completely (either before or after hearing both cases).
    3. Potential heated discussions that, despite preventative measures, could result in outbursts or offensive remarks from students. High schoolers can be a bit unpredictable in regards to what they take personally, get defensive about, what they misinterpret, etc….
    4. Under-informed or mis-informed…students, and/or teachers.
    5. Avoiding biases or stereotypes in discussions and artworks; keeping the discussions and artworks progressing in positive and non-hurtful/offensive ways because there are always at least two sides to things…

    1. Can encourage students to think about the world around them from a new perspective.
    2. Encourage students to start analyzing the world around them and their own experiences from a non-objective perspective to determine their own informed opinions and views.
    3. Provides an opportunity for students to develop their own opinions and gain confidence and ownership in how that can define part of who they are as a whole.
    4. Students can use artwork to sort through their feelings, experiences and views; use art as a pathway to help figure themselves and the world out.
    5. Students can intentionally and thoughtfully express who they are, their views, experiences, and opinions through artwork.

    1. Provide students with the topic as well as a few ‘key areas’ to observe and mentally note prior to and throughout unit so they can begin to develop their own ideas based on personal observations and experiences.
    2. Have students choose a moment in their life where they experienced or witnessed an example of something topic-related, and describe both views (discussion and/or through artwork).
    3. Incorporate historical as well as contemporary/enduring references.
    4. Have students create an artwork that expresses how one feels in a situation connected to the topic.
    5. Artwork installations that promote understanding of topic throughout the school and/or community.

    Feminist inquiry is concerned with the politics of location (i.e., positionality) and politics of knowledge production. What are the challenges, opportunities, and strategies for bringing such inquiry into art education?


    I am not fully comfortable discussing feminist issues with my students. High school students are hyper-sensitive of issues that arise with gender, race and ethnicity. They are at a very vulnerable point in the development of who they are and what they stand for. I realize that it is important for students to understand such an important issue, however I think taking a full approach to this teaching method would not be successful in my own classroom. When attempting to teach my students, I think it is important to showcase artists that are displaying the importance of not only feminism but different cultures and races. By teaching students about diversity and expressing the importance of our differences, I hope to create students that are tolerant and accepting not only of women but of everyone.


    Because the learning of an art form is experiential by nature, there should be ample opportunities to bring feminist inquiry into art education. In regards to music, specifically orchestral music, the instrument is very much an extension of the body, and the players are situated in specific relationships to each other: to the conductor, to the audience and to the music. Most music students are not asked to question how the orchestra is set up, or what type of dynamic exists between sections and individual players. Inquiry is not typically a part of the process of learning an instrument or of playing either solo or in an ensemble. The focus is on developing technique. Because learning music is depends on sequential skill development, other aspects of learning are often neglected or ignored. However, the very nature of an ensemble, which implies collaboration and cooperation, provides a multiple pathways for inquiry, and because orchestras are hierarchical and patriarchal in their structure, feminist inquiry would benefit students immensely in understanding the dynamics that come into play in such an environment. Locating themselves, their actual bodies relative to their instruments and to their colleagues, they can go on to explore their performance environment in ways that will lead to new and different perspectives on what is occurring during the act of music making. Is this the only way that symphonic music can be performed? What would happen if the authoritarian element i.e., the conductor, is removed and the process of rehearsal and performance becomes more collaborative? Why is western art music so rigid about precision and control? These are questions that band and orchestra teachers should address with their students.

    Liz Leslie

    The only way I can think to bring feminist ideas into the elementary classroom, is to include and discuss women artists in my curriculum. My young students do not yet understand gender, race, and class issues, although they do respond to those artists they can relate to. I try to expose the class to as many artists as I can find, and we constantly talk about why or why not this person should be talked about. Some students really relate to one artist over another (maybe because they are female) and discuss why their art matters. Again, this is hard with very young grades, but I can begin this discussion with my older students, and begin with younger students by exposing them to these issues, even if we don’t go too deep into discussing them.


    – parent push back
    – student buy in
    – approval of administration and colleagues
    – navigating disagreements between students
    – confronting discomfort
    – acknowledging teacher bias
    – oppressed students feeling “outed”

    – increase in student empathy
    – oppressed students being acknowledged and accepted
    – reestablish norms of parents, teachers and students
    – authentic student engagement

    – compare and contrast
    – inquiry
    – heterogenous grouping
    – role play
    – collaborative projects

    Lance Rautzhan

    I am a straight, White male. The way I position myself in reference to those whose identities are far more persecuted than mine is key to bringing feminist inquiry into my personal pedagogy. Ironic, that it is also my biggest challenge. I noticed when reading through some of the other posts in this dialogue that “feminist” is a word that is demonized. That’s a sad position to take no matter your identity. I have recently taken to regarding myself as feminist. Much like Donald Woodman, I believe men can’t afford not to be. I met my challenge through art making. I made feminist art and through the process learned what it means to be feminist. And so, through the process of creation, students can also learn what it means to be feminist and how that relates to their own identity.

    caroline grace

    Since I have begun teaching at my middle school two years ago in rural West Virginia, I have become more aware of the challenges regarding feminist ideology in modern-day America. It is difficult for me to decide which feminist ideas are considered appropriate to discuss and incorporate into lessons, especially when students ideas are already so warped and strong by the 8th grade.
    I have discovered that a large portion of female students have accepted a care-taker role. These girls are as young as 10 years old. Many have no choice since their parents are absent from the home. I have also discovered that these girls seem to not be respected by their male peers, they are expected to behave and act a certain way among their male peers.
    I believe that the first step in introducing feminist ideology is to introduce my students to cultures other than their own, especially cultures that may be considered more advanced.
    This is only the beginning, but I think that it is an introduction that is necessary in my school.

    Kerry R

    My work involves medical students.For the first time nationally in 2017-18 was the first medical school class with more women than men. Some women physicians think that it doesn’t even occur to women that they are going into a male-dominated field anymore. However, most of the textbook learning is from male physicians and less than 15 percent of women who identified as holding leadership positions in medicine help top spots as department chairs, CEOs and Chief Medical Officers. As more women enter the profession, these metrics need to change. Feminist inquiry can help answer the questions as to why there are so fewer women in the higher ranks as the field begins to balance out.

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