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Dr Aisha Fofana Ibrahim from the University of Sierra Leone attended the Feminist Pedagogy Conference at the CUNY Graduate Center, New York on 12 October 2007. She presented a paper entitled ‘Decentering a “Traditional” Classroom through War-Talk and/or Trauma’. Here is her report from the conference:

Participants came from all over the US, Canada, and Mexico and I was the only person from Africa (which made me feel a little bit lonely!). A vast array of papers were presented and topics discussed with panels ranging from, ‘Where Are We? The Space and Place of the Classroom in Feminist Pedagogy’; ‘Building and Living Feminist Theory’; ‘Teaching Difficult Topics’; ‘Feminist Art Pedagogy’; ‘Activism & Social Justice; Theoretical and Practical Applications and Experiences’; ‘Teaching Against Supremacy and Privilege for Liberation and Healing’; ‘Faith, Fiction, and Conservatism: Examining Literature and Religion for Individual and Social Change’; ‘Authority, Power, and Institutionalizing Feminism’; to ‘Healing through the Class Project: Experiential and Experimental Course Workshops and Projects’, the panel under which I presented my paper.

Nancy K. Miller delivered the keynote address titled ‘What’s Feminist about Feminist Pedagogy?’ in which she sort of revisited some of her theorising and tried to make connections with present happenings in academia. Interestingly she talked about women that influenced her and how that generation of women are dying and what that meant for feminism.

Generally, it was an interesting conference with lots of discussion and an attempt to link ideas across panels and disciplines. One thing that presenters at my panel agreed on was the need for students to take responsibility for their own education. It was apparent from all the papers presented that students, irrespective of location, were comfortable with the “traditional” (banking model) classroom where they are “spoon fed” and not expected to think much for themselves. I was a little bit surprised by this because I did not think that it was so pervasive in a society wherein students have so much access to learning materials. In my own context it was understandable for students to latch on to the lecturer because they have little or no access to learning and other materials.

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