The Magpie Approach to Gender
In his budget submission for 1994-95 and 1995-96, the Dean of the College of Education, University of Saskatchewan, has proposed the deletion of the "Women and Education" position in the Department of Educational Foundations, at the end of the academic year 1994-95. The deletion of this position will effectively silence feminist research and teaching at the College of Education. That this deletion was announced the same year that was designated the year of feminist pedagogy at the University of Saskatchewan (1993) was perhaps an unintended irony.
According to the Dean, "With the deletion of the EDFTD 1 (Women in [sic] Education) position, the field of study would be discontinued in the Department of Educational Foundations. Since the Department of Women [sic] and Gender Studies is to be expanded, since gender issues are to be addressed in various courses in the College, and since several new faculty members with some expertise in the area have been hired in the past three years, there is a 'safety net' for the preservation of this field of study" (Murray P. Scharf, October 1993).
The position, as Professor Emerita Irene A. Poelzer has developed it for over twenty years, is unique in the College of Education in that it provides two courses where undergraduate students are able to explore the sociological, historical, and ideological dimensions of gender inequity, a particularly important study in the context of an institution which prepares mainly women for a profession administered mainly by men. In these courses, students examine gender inequity within the teaching profession, its historical roots, and its changing character. Future educators are encouraged to develop teaching styles that avoid perpetuating sexism and that promote the fullest development of girls' and women's potential.
Other courses within the College do not offer, not can they be reasonably expected to offer, this type of in-depth investigation and reflection. Students in these classes, both male and female, commonly express their appreciation for the course in comments similar to this one: "As [someone] who will soon be responsible for the development of students' minds, I feel I would have been short-changed if I hadn't taken a course like this."