Female educational theorists

I asked a really stupid question, and as the list of responses and suggestions came in, I started to feel more and more embarrassed. My question was, who are the female educational theorists. In my head, I was thinking of Dewey,  Piaget, Gardner, Gatto, Holt, Friero, and other male educational theorists and wondering where all the women were.

The problem of course is that there are lots of female educational theorists but I over-looked all of them. The reason why? Sexism. Yep, I admit it, I had a sexist moment and for some reason didn’t connect what these marvelous women do with educational theory. How that is a reasonable thing to do, I don’t know, and I feel ashamed and embarrassed.

In no particular order, here are some examples of female educational theorists, all of whom are inspirations in their field.

  • Diane Ravitch (@DianeRavitch) wrote The Death and Life of the Great American School System and many other articles and publications. She tours the US doing speaking engagements.
     
  • Deborah Meier (@DebMeier) wrote Playing for keeps: Life and learning on a public school playground. She tours the world talking about education.
     
  • Linda Darling-Hammond teaches at Stanford University and her various publications are available to read here.
     
  • Melahnie McBride (@melaniemcbride) "is a Canadian educator, researcher and writer focused on situated emergent learning, transmedia and affinity culture in virtual environments and gaming spaces." (from her website)
     
  • Mary Ann Reilly (@maryannreilly) wrote Deepening Literacy Learning; Art and Literature Engagements in K-8 Classrooms and is also a photographer and educational researcher.
     
  • Clare Brett is a faculty member at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). Her research "lie[s] in the areas of teaching and learning in online and distance contexts; the social and cultural implications of technology use and the affordances of online environments for learning." (from her website)
     
  • Marlene Scardamalia is a researcher at OISE and is also the director of the Institute for Knowledge Innovation and Technology.
     
  • Jean Lave "is a social anthropologist with a strong interest in social theory. Much of her ethnographically-based research concentrates on the re-conceiving of learning, learners, and everyday life in terms of social practice." (from her faculty profile)
     
  • Brigid Barron researches about ways "to advance scientific understanding of social aspects of learning while contributing to the design of learning environments that lead to high levels of engagement in subject matter for all learners in educational systems." (from her faculty profile).
     
  • Ricki Goldman is "Professor & Director of the Digital Media Design for Learning Program & the Educational Communication & Technology Program at NYU." (from her faculty profile)
     
  • Sherry Turkle "is Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT and the founder (2001) and current director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self." (from her faculty profile)
     
  • Amy Bruckman is an Associate Professor at the College of Computing at Georgia Tech and does research on "applying the constructivist philosophy of education to online communities." (from her faculty profile)
     
  • Margaret Mead introduced the idea of culture into education, suggesting that you can’t teach students without either appealing to their culture or recognizing its value.
     
  • Maria Montessori developed a method for teaching children by giving them self-direction in their learning, and the freedom to choose their own activities. For more information, see the Wikipedia article.
     
  • C. Steinkuelher "investigates the intellectual work that goes on within such games and the cultures of participation that emerge both within their virtual worlds (between login & logoff) and beyond (in the online fandom spaces around them)." (from her faculty page)
     
  • Lillian Katz wrote the book "Engaging student’s minds" and "is a Professor Emerita of early childhood education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she is also principal investigator for the Illinois Early Learning Project,[1] a contributor to the Early Childhood and Parenting Collaborative, and editor of the first on-line peer-reviewed early-childhood journal, Early Childhood Research & Practice." (from a Wikipedia article)
     
  • Shirley R. Steinberg is an Associate Professor and "is the co-founder and director of The Paulo and Nita Freire International Project for Critical Pedagogy." (from her faculty page)
     
  • Nel Noddings "is an American feminist, educationalist, and philosopher best known for her work in philosophy of education, educational theory, and ethics of care." (from her entry on Wikipedia)
     
  • Maxine Greene founded the Maxine Greene foundation which "directs its primary attention to the intersections among various modes of social action and engagements with the arts. Social imagination most often finds expression in diverse art forms: film, literature, theatre, and dance." (according to the Foundation’s about page)
     
  • Madeleine Grumet "is a professor in the School of Education and in the Department of Communication Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences." (from her faculty page)
     
  • Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach (@snbeach) "is a 20-year educator who has been a classroom teacher, technology coach, charter school principal, district administrator, university instructor and digital learning consultant. She is also CEO and co-founder of Powerful Learning Practice, an organization dedicated to empowering schools and districts from across the world to re-envision their learning cultures and communities." (from her website)
     
  • Angela Maiers (@AngelaMaiers) "is the founder and President of Maiers Education Services, a consulting firm headquartered in Clive, Iowa. Her company provides just-in-time consultation services to schools, organizations, and individuals seeking to use technology and social media to leverage human capital and production goals." (from her website)
     
  • Cynthia Chambers "is a mother and grandmother — as well as a writer — and a Professor of Education. She teaches curriculum studies, research methods, language, literacy and indigenous education to pre-service teachers and graduate students." (from her faculty page)
     
  • Cathy Vatterott is "an education professor at University of Missouri-St. Louis who has been researching, writing, and speaking about homework for the last several years. [She has published] Rethinking Homework: Best practices that support diverse needs." (from her website)
     
  • danah boyd (@zephoria) is "a researcher at Microsoft Research New England and a Fellow at the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society."(from her website)
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4 Comments

  • David, your question (and your embarrassment!) are akin to this chestnut:

    A man and his son are driving in a car. The car crashes into a tree, killing the father and seriously injuring his son. At the hospital, the boy needs to have surgery. Upon looking at the boy, the doctor says (telling the truth), “I cannot operate on him. He is my son.” Who is the doctor?

    We have to explain how a doctor can have a son (“I cannot operate on him. He is my son.”) when at the same time the father is dead (“The car crashes into a tree, killing the father”). The answer: The doctor is the boy’s mother. Many readers are blinded to this meaning by the sexist assumption that the doctor must be a male.

    Try this on random victims. If people haven’t heard it before they often struggle. We still have a long way to go.

  • You may want to consider adding Vanessa Rodriguez – author of “The Teaching Brain” to your list. I know she’s described as a researcher than a theorist, but then all theorists are researchers.

  • David Wees wrote:

    Okay, thanks for the suggestion.

  • […] Female Educational Theorists lists 25 women who have had a significant impact on education theory (the irony of this list being compiled by a man is not lost on me…) […]

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