• When you invite people to take part in the activities in this book and make the class a place of safety and risk-taking, you can expect learners, both women and men, to come to you with issues from their past that they have never dealt with. (You can read the chapter “Responding to Disclosures of Abuse in Women's Lives”.)
  • People make changes in their lives in their own ways and at their own paces; they will be at different points of readiness for thinking about change and making change. They will do only what they are ready to do.
  • Resistance to your using this curriculum will come from many sources. It will come from learners themselves, especially from men who do not see themselves reflected as they might expect. Clearly, you cannot force learners to use this material. They will not be forced, and there would be no point to trying to do so. However, do not be fooled by the loudest protesters into thinking that everyone in the class does not like the material you are using. If you offer the material in such a way that those who want to participate can and offer alternate activities to others, you will not have to deal with so much resistance directed against you and you may find that gradually the size of the group working on these activities grows.
  • Resistance will also come from administrators and other instructors or tutors. This will vary in type and strength, but will always be less if you are working with learners who have chosen to work with you on this curriculum. Make the learners your allies. Find some other allies as well-a mentor, a counselor who works with the learners in your class, a librarian who will help the learners with research and get to know your program.
  • You will almost surely find resistance coming from within yourself. You may hear voices saying, “It's not real literacy work,” “I can't measure what they are learning,” “I 'll get into a lot of trouble for rocking the boat,” “It's too hard to figure out how to adapt these ideas to my situation, and the repercussions are huge if I do it wrong,” and so on. Don't beat yourself up. Some times and places are more fruitful than others. Work with the learners and with your other allies. Start slowly and watch what happens.

We offer you this curriculum also with pride and hope.

Excerpted from CCLOW's newest publication, Making Connections: Literacy and EAL Materials from a Feminist Perspective, this article is an introduction to the concept of feminist curriculum as well as to the new publication and some of its chapters.

Making Connections is another product of CCLOW's long investigation into feminist literacy issues. Way back in the late 1980s, we put out a call for samples of non-sexist, quality literacy material for women, collected and assessed what we received, and published the results as Telling Our Stories Our Way: A Guide to Good Canadian Materials for Women Learning to Read (1990).

This project opened an inquiry into women's experiences in literacy programs. If women always have to deal with sexist or degrading material in their journey to gain literacy skills, how does it feel to be a woman in a literacy class, and what are the issues behind women's participation in literacy programs? Discovering the Strength of our Voices (1991) and the three books published under the series The Power of Woman-Positive Literacy Work (1994) are a result of research that investigated these questions.

Some of the answers we found are that women's experience in literacy programs - whether as students or teachers - is often of being silenced, harassed, having unequal opportunities to learn, and having to use materials that are either not inclusive or are dismissive of their life experiences. A looming presence over all of our inquiries is the specter of violence. Many women lack literacy skills because their primary education: was disrupted by violence - at home, in their families, at school. In literacy programs women often continue to face violence in their learning - from unsupported or abusive partners, from other learners in the program, from barriers to learning that linger from childhood abuse. Literacy teachers can be faced with their own issues of violence, or struggle to cope with the details of disclosure entrusted to them by their students.

Making Connections is a resource of woman -- positive, empowering, relevant and useful curriculum materials for women in literacy programs. Each chapter provides readings, activities and exercises for twenty to thirty hours of work for literacy and EAL learners. Our next step is a project to train literacy practitioners across Canada on how to introduce the manual to their programs and use it most effectively.

Making Connections is an exciting contribution to the field of literacy and we trust that its use in programs across the country will change and enrich women's experience of literacy work.

- Editor

Un programme d'études féministe, c'est quoi?
par Kate Nonesuch

Cet article est un extrait de la toute dernière publication du CCPEF qui s'intitule Making Connections: Literacy and EAL Material from a Feminist Perspective, un manuel en anglais qui contient des lectures, des activités et des exercices pour les analphabètes apprenants et EAL

Ce manuel traite de divers thèmes : l'histoire des femmes, les modèles à imiter, l'estime de soi, la sensibilisation transculturelle, le rôle des hommes et des femmes, la vie quotidienne, les pratiques sexuelles sûres, le travail, la poésie, la chanson et les modes d'apprentissage des femmes. Le matériel est axé sur les apprenantes, les apprenants et respecte les djfférences; il propose une variété d'activités qui conviennent à divers styles d'apprentissage; il invite les apprenantes, les apprenants à partager leur propre existence et besoins en classe.

Ce manuel ne s'adresse pas uniquement à des femmes; un programme d'études féministe peut être utilisé aussi bien avec des femmes qu'avec des hommes. Il s'agit d'un programme qui place au centre de l'apprentissage les femmes et les problèmes de leur existence; il vise à inclure les discours, les expériences et les valeurs et principes de toutes les femmes, féministes ou pas. Un programme d'études féministes s'intéressent aux questions relatives au pouvoir, et à leur lien avec la race, la culture, l'orientation sexuelle, les aptitudes et le sexe. Pour ce faire, il s'appuie sur des exemples tirés du vécu des femmes et reconnaît que très souvent ces dernières ne sont pas celles qui détiennent le pouvoir. Les besoins affectifs des apprenantes, des apprenants sont pris en considération, puisqu'on sait qu'un travail éducatif ne peut pas être valable si on ne répond pas aux besoins affectifs et physiques des apprenants. Un programme d'études féministe ne dicte pas aux femmes leurs pensées, leur vie, leurs faits et gestes. Il les habilite à changer le système au1ieu de leur indiquer comment se changer.

Back Contents Next