Identity and Empowerment: An Educational Philosophy Manifesto

Open Access
Gillen, Katharine
Area of Honors:
Curriculum and Instruction
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Angiline Louisa Whitney, Thesis Supervisor
  • Jamie Myers, Faculty Reader
  • Angiline Louisa Whitney, Honors Advisor
  • social justice
  • Feminist pedagogy
  • Education
  • empowerment
One of the most important components of an education is learning to examine ideas from a number of perspectives and to consider how the events in every individual’s life impacts his or her world view. I am drawn to the way that literature allows us to experience different ways of thinking and living through the text and our imagination, and part of the reason I am so passionate about educating students of the value of literature is because of the diverse experiences we are able to encounter through a text. Literature breaks down the walls of our every day lives and allows us to come into contact with people, cultures, and ways of thinking that we do not experience on a daily basis. It is interesting to note that the word “educate” comes from the Latin word educare, which means “to lead out”; perhaps we need to look at our education system as a way to encourage students to look at the world they live in and create their own definitions of and theories about the way the world works. Literature gives us the opportunity to live and see through the lives of others, which itself is an invaluable gift; it is so easy to go through life not questioning our own view or our reactions to things because we tend to surround ourselves with people who think like we do. The English classroom gives us the chance to leave the comfort zone of our own thoughts and see things the way people who are both similar to and different from us do. As educators, we must remember that learning is an active verb, and therefore it is our responsibility to ensure that every student has a variety of opportunities to engage with the world in which we live, and therefore grow into successful people.