Teaching Group Facilitation Processes in the Feminist Classroom: From Poststructuralist Theory to Activist Practice

Dr Lekkie Hopkins
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The scholarly fascination with poststructuralist thinking that has characterised much work in the social sciences and the humanities in the past few decades invites new questions about how to teach towards praxis for those of us working in tertiary classroom settings to prepare graduates for careers in the service professions. Among these questions are: how do we move from the densely theoretical discussions of fragmented subjectivities, and of poststructuralist understandings of power and knowledge construction, to an understanding of ways to apply these conceptual shifts to daily life and professional practice? How do we communicate what it's like to be constantly reflecting on practice, doing theory on the run? How do we teach students to work across difference? This paper outlines an approach to teaching group facilitation processes to undergraduate students who plan to work with diverse populations in community settings. Specifically, the paper reflects on the ways in which these undergraduate students are encouraged to be attentive to oscillations and fluctuations of power; to dealing with difference; to fostering individual and collective agency; and to working with group energies to achieve collective goals. In so doing it provides an example of ways to apply poststructuralist thinking to everyday practices.

Keywords: Group Facilitation, Group Processes, Group Energies, Power, Difference, Individual and Collective Agency, Poststructuralism, Feminist Activism, Feminist Praxis
Stream: Community, Culture, Globalisation
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Teaching Group Facilitation Processes in the Feminist Classroom

Dr Lekkie Hopkins

Senior lecturer, Women's Studies School of International, Cultural and Community Studies , Edith Cowan University

Since 1990 I have been Co-ordinator of the Women's Studies programme at Edith Cowan University, where I teach feminist theory and related women's studies units. During the 1970s and 1980s I worked as an archivist, radio broadcaster, oral historian, and teacher. I have been actively involved in the women's movement for three decades. Most of my writing and research concerns the educational, political, philosophical, discursive and activist dimensions of creating social change. My early publications were in oral history, biography, and feminist literary criticism of Australian women's fiction. I am particularly interested in the history of social protest, and am currently engaged in a longitudinal study of women activists in the peace movement in WA; an oral history of WA women's experience of mastectomy; and a collaborative project between ECU and the Family and Domestic Violence Unit of the Department of Community Development to respond to the impact of domestic violence on workplaces. In 2000 I worked with a research team through the Institute for the Service Professions at ECU to establish a profile of the service professions responding to interpersonal violence in WA. My work is feminist, poststructuralist, and cross-disciplinary. My doctoral thesis explores the relationships between theory and practice in the training and experiences of women's services practitioners. I was a founding member of the Centre for Research for Women in 1993, and have recently retired from a decade on the Centre's Board of Management. I currently sit on the Management Committee of Nardine Wimmin's Refuge. I am a member of a number of professional associations, including the Association for the Study of Australian Literature, the Oral History Association of Australia (WA), the Australian Women's Studies Association, the European Association for the Study of Australia, and the Asian Association for the Study of Australia.

Ref: L05P0918