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  The Journal of Effective Teaching
an online journal devoted to teaching excellence


Journal of Effective Teaching, Vol. 11, No. 1, 2011  

Gruber, S. (2011). Student Engagement and Teacher Practices: Using Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Campaign for Learning Purposes. The Journal of Effective Teaching, 11(1), 45-61. [Full Text]


In this article, I reflect on the pedagogical decisions I made when I taught a course on gendered literacies during the 2008/2009 presidential campaign. I specifically focus on what I term the “Hillary” phenomenon, the media’s often negative and unflattering portrayal of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. I start with a brief exploration of my goals for teaching current events; I then discuss student perceptions of Hillary Clinton’s role in politics, and I show the importance of paying attention to students’ social influences that, in Arizona, are often marked by “fear and trepidation” when it comes to political change. I show the importance of using examples from Clinton’s writing, and I point toward pedagogical reasons for engaging students in discussions that address our positionalities in a variety of discourse communities. I conclude by pointing out that we need to encourage students to think critically about their own roles in perpetuating current value systems by challenging their assumptions about gender roles, race relations, sexual orientation, or class systems.


Keywords: Classroom practices, women and politics, women and the media, gender discrimination, social expectations, discourse communities, identity and literacy development.