This post was written by Daniel Paszak who describes himself as a feminist Christian concerned about education in the church. He is a graduate of Bethel Seminary and a friend of CBE.
I. If women are kept from teaching, then the perspectives that mediate the teachings of the church will be the perspectives of men in a patriarchal society. It’s not simply that half of the community is not represented, but that the views that are represented hold patriarchal values.
II. The perpetuation of this dynamic is partly due to a kind of “banking” model of teaching, where the teacher is seen as a kind of depositor of knowledge into the mind of the student. The teacher is depicted as an active dispenser of knowledge, the student as a passive recipient who is dependent on the teacher, and knowledge is depicted as a kind of static, unmalleable substance, the content of which is unaffected by the teacher, the student, or their relationship.
III. Yet knowledge is dialogical and communal. The banking model of education is oppressive in that it excludes the students’ perspective as relevant to the content being taught, effectively maintaining the status quo. Moreover, since questioning the content being taught represents questioning the authority of the teacher, the political or perspective aspect of knowledge is ignored or deemed absurd.
IV. The content of what is taught in such an environment is depicted as having closure on an issue. Closure is the resistance from or avoidance of questioning. In this example, it is the issue of whether women can or should teach. However, there is always room for questioning and exploring.
V. Closure and exclusion are mutually empowering. That is, closure as the resistance to being questioned or challenged is related to the excluding of others. In other words, if you stop asking questions, you are excluding someone.
VI. What needs to be established is acknowledgment of and attention to the developmental and relational aspect of human knowing. This may involve exposure of tendencies towards closure (making knowledge static) and exclusion (ideas that don’t acknowledge the perspectives of others).
VII. The static non-developmental and neutral apolitical depiction of knowledge, which maintains tendencies towards closure on serious issues and exclusion of certain others from discourse, represent a patriarchal society. In other words, knowledge is power, and patriarchy systemically does not share knowledge.