Feminist Standpoint Theory in the Writing Classroom

Feminist Standpoint Theory: Never Dismiss a Student's Lived Experience

Yes, it's tempting to believe that "teacher always knows best," but Feminist Standpoint Theory has convinced me that students will always know a few things that we teachers don't. The concept of "epistemic advantage" is a complex and fascinating examination of how privilege and marginalization affect personal perspectives. This review of José Medina's The Epistemology of Resistance gives a sense of how issues like pride and self-doubt are affected by social position, which fundamentally affects individual outlook.

This is not to say that students understand course concepts better than the instructor, and it does not mean that students are "smarter" than we are. What it means is that we should be in continual conversation with our students, fostering a two-way flow of information. As instructors, we are experts in our fields, but our students are the only ones with direct, firsthand experience of their own lives. They might not know how to write the perfectly grammatical academic sentence, but they will know that such a sentence would sound pretentious if used in conversation, posted to Twitter, or texted to a friend. Hence, even though you might need to teach your students the concept of genre, I guarantee that your students are already using genres of their daily lives.