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Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom PDF, ePub eBook


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Title: Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom
Author: bell hooks
Publisher: Published September 14th 1994 by Routledge (first published 1994)
ISBN: 9780415908085
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

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In Teaching to Transgress, bell hooks--writer, teacher, and insurgent black intellectual--writes about a new kind of education, educations as the practice of freedom. Teaching students to "transgress" against racial, sexual, and class boundaries in order to achieve the gift of freedom is, for hooks, the teacher's most important goal. Bell hooks speaks to the heart of educat In Teaching to Transgress, bell hooks--writer, teacher, and insurgent black intellectual--writes about a new kind of education, educations as the practice of freedom. Teaching students to "transgress" against racial, sexual, and class boundaries in order to achieve the gift of freedom is, for hooks, the teacher's most important goal. Bell hooks speaks to the heart of education today: how can we rethink teaching practices in the age of multiculturalism? What do we do about teachers who do not want to teach, and students who do not want to learn? How should we deal with racism and sexism in the classroom? Full of passion and politics, Teaching to Transgress combines practical knowledge of the classroom with a deeply felt connection to the world of emotions and feelings. This is the rare book about teachers and students that dares to raise critical questions about eros and rage, grief and reconciliation, and the future o teaching its self. "To educate as the practice of freedom," writes bell hooks, "is a way of teaching that any one can learn." Teaching to Transgress is the record of one gifted teacher's struggle to make classrooms work. -from the back of the book

30 review for Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom

  1. 5 out of 5

    E

    Teaching to Transgress is probably a book every person in a putative position of authority should read – not just teachers, but parents, coaches, community leaders etc. It’s accessible, passionate, quick to read, and offers a refreshing conception of education as something that’s not politically neutral and shouldn’t be about just gaining marketable skills to get a job. I loved hooks’ distinction between the feminist classroom and the Women’s Studies classroom, her approach that calls for equali Teaching to Transgress is probably a book every person in a putative position of authority should read – not just teachers, but parents, coaches, community leaders etc. It’s accessible, passionate, quick to read, and offers a refreshing conception of education as something that’s not politically neutral and shouldn’t be about just gaining marketable skills to get a job. I loved hooks’ distinction between the feminist classroom and the Women’s Studies classroom, her approach that calls for equalizing (neutralizing?) power relations between student and teacher, and her rejection of the banking approach to learning. These ideas weren’t new to me, but I appreciate how straightforwardly they were presented, and I'm glad I've read it. Where hooks somewhat lost me was in some of her expectations and methods, particularly around her desire to erase the separation between public and private and to always bring the body into the classroom. There’s surely some very legitimate criticism about people who claim to hold certain political positions but don’t actually put them into practice on a daily basis, which is something I and everyone I know struggle with. But hooks isn’t only writing about being politically consistent; she’s calling for the annihilation of personal boundaries in order to attain some kind of “self-actualization” and heal what she perceives to be the “mind/body/spirit” split of the "wounded educator." Early in the book she states that she expects her students to take the risk of “confessing” personal narratives to their classmates in order to stay registered in her courses, but doesn't acknowledge the danger of recounting sensitive, potentially traumatic details when there’s no guarantee that they'll be received well or even stay within the walls of the classroom. This anxiety and pain is necessary, according to hooks, in order to heal and to learn. Perhaps I’m too jaded and suspicious of the purity of others’ intentions but I’d never willingly put myself in a situation that could have direct and long-lasting negative effects on my psychological or even physical wellbeing, yet hooks doesn’t allow for principled opposition to that kind of mandatory disclosure; I'd be a "resisting" student to her. My other major cause for pause is with how hooks suggests teachers execute this approach to teaching, insofar as she assumes visibility is something that’s always desirable. I can see how this could be true in many, perhaps even most cases, and it’s something I try to keep an eye on in my own teaching, but I’m unconvinced that it’s a uniformly good thing. I mean this with respect to power dynamics, but also more plainly. To take an example from my own education, the best experience of my entire undergraduate degree was a course on the philosophy of science taught by a man who was obsessed with Plato’s cave allegory and Eric Voegelin, and as disdainful of absolutist empiricism as he was of postmodern relativism. Twice a week, first thing in the morning, he lectured for the full 75 minutes and never deliberately encouraged student participation. hooks would, I suspect, consider this a travesty – and yet I learned more about myself sitting there and listening to someone who I’m sure would be horrified by my politics but who made epistemology and ontology utterly fascinating. Because I know he wouldn’t call on me, because I knew he didn’t even know my name until the end of the first term, I was able to sit there and absorb, reflect on, assess and critique everything he said on my own terms and without feeling visible. Now, I’m perfectly willing to admit that a lot of these criticisms are about individual learning preferences and my own solitary nature, and maybe my issues are ultimately more about personal style than political positions. Still, I don't think visibility is an unmitigated good, nor can I imagine a situation where it would be appropriate for a student to start to dance with me to apologize for coming in late (“I remember the day he came to class late and came right up to the front, picked me up and whirled me around. The class laughed. I called him ‘fool’ and laughed. It was by way of apologizing for being late, for missing any moment of classroom passion. And so he brought his own moment. I, too, love to dance. And so we danced our way into the future as comrades and friends bound by all we had learned.”). I’ll heed hooks’ own advice to take the good and leave it at that.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Meagen Farrell

    This book renewed my passion for teaching, especially in light of the constant rhetoric of adult education existing to create an efficient economic pipeline. It reminded me at a critical time that I am not the only one who believes education of marginalized people can--and should--be something more. I found that hooks had articulated many things I felt & experienced but could not name, which proves her point about the power of theory. Chapter 3 in particular is critical reading for anyone te This book renewed my passion for teaching, especially in light of the constant rhetoric of adult education existing to create an efficient economic pipeline. It reminded me at a critical time that I am not the only one who believes education of marginalized people can--and should--be something more. I found that hooks had articulated many things I felt & experienced but could not name, which proves her point about the power of theory. Chapter 3 in particular is critical reading for anyone teaching in a multicultural setting. Through stories and dialogue, hooks explores how the intersection of theory, identity, teaching, and injustice is experienced in postsecondary classrooms. She offers a theoretical framework & practical skills that she has successfully used to create an engaging, inclusive classroom. My one warning is that as a pioneer in stepping out from behind the podium, hooks' approach feels incomplete. I think teachers can do more beyond just transforming content or teaching methods by designing learning that helps students focus & apply their reflections & skills to their own context, which hooks confesses having struggled with. However, this does not diminish the fact that hooks offers an important critical & historic perspective in an extremely easy to read format.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    "The academy is not paradise. But learning is a place where paradise can be created. The classroom, with all its limitations, remains a location of possibility. In that field of possibility we have the opportunity to labor for freedom, to demand of ourselves and our comrades, an openness of mind and heart that allows us to face reality even as we collectively imagine ways to move beyond boundaries, to transgress. This is education as the practice of freedom."

  4. 4 out of 5

    Gabriela Ventura

    Que livro maravilhoso. Encontrei, nas reflexões de hooks, eco das minhas paixões, motivações, temas e problemas durante o ofício de professor. Fiquei profundamente emocionada com a leitura amorosa & crítica que a autora faz da obra do Paulo Freire. Um livro para todo mundo que é, foi ou pensa em ser professor. Reflexões ensaísticas sobre educação, transgressão e a tão difícil (mas ensinável? quero crer que sim) prática da liberdade. Que saudade que esse livro me deu da sala de aula. <3

  5. 4 out of 5

    Siria

    This is the first book of hooks' that I've read—a collection of stand-alone essays in which she reflects on the concept of pedagogy as liberation. Essay collections are almost always a mixed bag and there are some in here that didn't work for me—the one that's structured as a dialogue between her and her writing pseudonym, or the rather uncomfortable one on eros in the classroom (that one needed a lot of teasing out and consideration of agape, philia, storge, and a hell of a lot more nuance and This is the first book of hooks' that I've read—a collection of stand-alone essays in which she reflects on the concept of pedagogy as liberation. Essay collections are almost always a mixed bag and there are some in here that didn't work for me—the one that's structured as a dialogue between her and her writing pseudonym, or the rather uncomfortable one on eros in the classroom (that one needed a lot of teasing out and consideration of agape, philia, storge, and a hell of a lot more nuance and acknowledgement of the power differentials and potentials for abuse within what she's advocating). Yet there are other essays here which are powerful and (sadly) still relevant more than twenty years after the collection was first published. Definitely recommended for those doing work in the college classroom.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    Some of the earlier essays felt too academic and jargony, but I think this book is a must-read for all teachers. It made me change the way I think about the classroom, my role in it, and about how power works in those spaces. There was one particular essay that I loved--about the false dichotomy between theory and practice. She pushes back against activists who say that they have no time for theory and that they would rather just do the work. She says, essentially, that we are all operating unde Some of the earlier essays felt too academic and jargony, but I think this book is a must-read for all teachers. It made me change the way I think about the classroom, my role in it, and about how power works in those spaces. There was one particular essay that I loved--about the false dichotomy between theory and practice. She pushes back against activists who say that they have no time for theory and that they would rather just do the work. She says, essentially, that we are all operating under some theory even when we don't talk about it. So in order to perform the work better, we need to engage with the theory as well. That seems right to me. There were many passages in here that I think I will keep thinking about--not just as a teacher, but as a person who is interested in ideas.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Princess

    Sometimes you read a book that manages somehow to articulate intuitions you've always had. And sometimes that book goes a step further, and challenges your view of the world or your understanding of your place in it. Three things in particular I will take from this book: (1) education as the practice of freedom is actually education as a process of self-actualization,(2) coming to critical awareness can be a painful process; there is always conflict in spaces of unlearning, and (3) with critical Sometimes you read a book that manages somehow to articulate intuitions you've always had. And sometimes that book goes a step further, and challenges your view of the world or your understanding of your place in it. Three things in particular I will take from this book: (1) education as the practice of freedom is actually education as a process of self-actualization,(2) coming to critical awareness can be a painful process; there is always conflict in spaces of unlearning, and (3) with critical awareness, must come praxis, that is, action and reflection; what good is critical awareness if we do not immediately put that awareness to work in the world? This is a powerful book. Definitely re-readable.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    Whew. This book is magnificent. If you're into critical/feminist pedagogy this truly is a must read. Unlike Pedagogy of the Oppressed, hooks writes in a way that's accessible and understandable (a point she discusses). I wish sleeping with this under my pillow would allow her wisdom to permanently make home in my brain and in result my teaching practice. I'm a listener by nature, but the way she spoke about race and whiteness calls even a deeper sense of listening within me. I highlighted the he Whew. This book is magnificent. If you're into critical/feminist pedagogy this truly is a must read. Unlike Pedagogy of the Oppressed, hooks writes in a way that's accessible and understandable (a point she discusses). I wish sleeping with this under my pillow would allow her wisdom to permanently make home in my brain and in result my teaching practice. I'm a listener by nature, but the way she spoke about race and whiteness calls even a deeper sense of listening within me. I highlighted the hell out of this and am even tempted to make print outs of quotes and put them all over my office.

  9. 5 out of 5

    N.

    A great book that really makes you think about your role as a student (or a teacher) in the classroom. There were times that Ms. hooks' words made me uncomfortable because of the truth they carried. At times I do feel that the more I know and learn about feminism, the less I can enjoy certain things. It's not because I don't consider myself a feminist but because so many people engage in offensive, degrading behavior and expect to be rewarded for it. Unlearning sexism and racism can result in a A great book that really makes you think about your role as a student (or a teacher) in the classroom. There were times that Ms. hooks' words made me uncomfortable because of the truth they carried. At times I do feel that the more I know and learn about feminism, the less I can enjoy certain things. It's not because I don't consider myself a feminist but because so many people engage in offensive, degrading behavior and expect to be rewarded for it. Unlearning sexism and racism can result in a painful process, but the rewards are plentiful.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    I have been dedicated to feminist, liberatory pedagogy since I began to teach, but admittedly I never read much about it, its development, its history, and how it used by others. My own feminist praxis informed my teaching and my commitment to create an environment which was non-hierarchal, which elevated the voices of the subjugated, and which created communities of love, respect, and critical inquiry. Going to hooks at this moment in my career was motivated by a desire to deepen that commitmen I have been dedicated to feminist, liberatory pedagogy since I began to teach, but admittedly I never read much about it, its development, its history, and how it used by others. My own feminist praxis informed my teaching and my commitment to create an environment which was non-hierarchal, which elevated the voices of the subjugated, and which created communities of love, respect, and critical inquiry. Going to hooks at this moment in my career was motivated by a desire to deepen that commitment, to reflect, and to strengthen that praxis with theory. The "engaged pedagogy" she details in this book is inspiring, militantly feminist and anti-racist, and radically transformative. I wish I had more teachers like her and the authors who inspired her like Freire rather than many of the dictators (to use her terminology) who use education as a pretext to dominate, to bully, and to force their students into conformity. Will that type of "education" only be abolished once white supremacist capitalist heteropatriarchy goes as well? Some of the most interesting parts of Teaching to Transgress autobiographically document her own education, how she found liberation despite the constant humiliations many of teachers subjected her to because of race, gender, and class. hooks is convinced that both teachers and their students must work to be self-actualized, must work to be present in education in their minds, bodies, and spirits and that shows through her willingness to open herself and history up to her students and her audience. Education is personal and political growth.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lance

    Though this is an important book for teachers to consider, I found myself somewhat disappointed. hooks definition of transgressive teaching, and critical pedagogy for that matter, are just too different from mine. Her critical work seems more what Alastair Pennycook calls "emancipatory modernism," which comes dangerously close to the missionary mindset so often criticized by critical pedagogues. I have nothing against hooks pedagogy, but my goal as a critical scholar is to question the systems o Though this is an important book for teachers to consider, I found myself somewhat disappointed. hooks definition of transgressive teaching, and critical pedagogy for that matter, are just too different from mine. Her critical work seems more what Alastair Pennycook calls "emancipatory modernism," which comes dangerously close to the missionary mindset so often criticized by critical pedagogues. I have nothing against hooks pedagogy, but my goal as a critical scholar is to question the systems of thought that produce differences . . . and preferably find new ways of thinking. There must always be an element of renewal and generation within transgressive approaches to theory and pedagogy. That being said, the last few chapters are useful to get teacher's thinking about how to transgress the assumptions behind the universal, liberal subject (which is bodiless, classless, and speaks a perfect English). hooks deliberately transgress these assumptions by bringing the body, class, and diverse languages back into the classroom.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Madeleine

    An important book for teachers concerned about the impact (anti-oppression or the opposite) of our teaching. Very dense so I will just share one idea that I take away: I've tended to think about anti-oppression education in terms of the content that the teacher presents and that the class learns. hooks argues that *how* you teach and the dynamics of the educational space you (help) create are just as important as content in creating a classroom where education can be...well, freedom.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Fleur

    I think this is my favourite hooks book so far!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ana Yarí

    When I was in grad school I was always acutely aware of the ways that set me apart. Many people from marginalized communities have written extensively about similar experiences: these programs are not made for us. Teaching to Transgress along with Pedagogy of the Oppressed offers a view and a guide to making higher education more accessible. The term "engaged pedagogy" suggests a model opposite of the banking teaching method where teacher and student learn together from each other. Visiting t When I was in grad school I was always acutely aware of the ways that set me apart. Many people from marginalized communities have written extensively about similar experiences: these programs are not made for us. Teaching to Transgress along with Pedagogy of the Oppressed offers a view and a guide to making higher education more accessible. The term "engaged pedagogy" suggests a model opposite of the banking teaching method where teacher and student learn together from each other. Visiting these formative texts in my thinking and development this year have been necessary tools for me in the conversations that arise during our current political climate. I find the notions and ideas that hooks, Freire, etc. develop help me express the frustrations and anger from marginalized people. I find them, moreover, more useful when talking to more liberal leaning people, who have good intentions but certain blindspots. As with the engaged pedagogy model, I find these conversations are mutually beneficial and the collaboration to learn and discuss leads to better understanding in general. But like the engaged pedagogy model there is a high level of frustration when attempting to break through people's unknown prejudices. Presenting challenging ideas can be, well, challenging but books like Teaching to Transgress helps in the process of not just providing a method but also provides encouragement. While I definitely recommend this book to educators, it's a useful tool for anyone wanting to engage thoughtfully with people of different marginalized communities. We're all in this together, we might as well learn how to communicate with and learn from one another.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    "When we, as educators, allow our pedagogy to be radically changed by our recognition of a multicultural world, we can give students the education they desire and deserve. We can teach in ways that transform consciousness, creating a climate of free expression that is the essence of a truly liberatory liberal arts education." Each essay in this collection examines ways teachers must transgress within the classroom--ultimately, how to transgress normative professorial behaviors, such as lecturing "When we, as educators, allow our pedagogy to be radically changed by our recognition of a multicultural world, we can give students the education they desire and deserve. We can teach in ways that transform consciousness, creating a climate of free expression that is the essence of a truly liberatory liberal arts education." Each essay in this collection examines ways teachers must transgress within the classroom--ultimately, how to transgress normative professorial behaviors, such as lecturing without discussion or having discussion that avoids class/gender/racial/language differences. hooks argues for a feminist classroom that questions basic assumptions of pedagogy. For instance, the study of 'whiteness,' sharing confessional narratives and connecting content to personal experience, respecting individual voices. It is more a theoretical book than a practical one--by that I mean it concerns the ideology of teaching rather than discussing specific ways to implement transgressive teaching. Because of that, I think it would make a great companion piece to a workshop or class on pedagogy, so that there could be a discussion of the principles she outlines, and then a discussion of how to implement those ideas in the classroom. I agree with much she has to say. My first semester teaching, I emulated the lecturing professor hook critiques, and I found by the end of the semester I hated that way of teaching. The students were bored, only a very few were learning anything, and I enjoy teaching more when the students are as involved in the class as I am. I also hated speaking for 50 minutes straight. So the next semester I changed my methodology, and every semester I try to improve upon it to make my classrooms more engaged (my reason for reading this over the summer), and every semester I get better. Part of the way I've improved is by including more personal experiences, and connecting content to the students, which she also suggests. I've also limited my authority in the classroom, and allowed the students to feel more at ease in my class. Much of this is done by learning student names within the first week, speaking to the students before, during, and after class, learning about them as individuals. Ways I plan to improve after reading this is to be more confrontational with discussion. I also need to be more flexible, which is terribly difficult for me. I've never been good at improv. I do think her arguments could be updated, and there were some areas I took slightly different views on. hooks fails to take into account learning differences. Some students thrive on constant discussion of personal experiences, or constant discussions in general, but some also shut down, or require more time to process. My favorite classes in undergrad were my lecture classes, because I learn and think best on my own. So after receiving a bulk of info, I could process it over several week's time, and my engagement would then be shown through written responses versus discussion. I rarely spoke in class. What I've found as a teacher is that some students thrive on active discussion, most on some discussion and some processing, and a smaller number on active listening. And I do think there's such a thing as an active listener. And that's great. Sometimes it's difficult to get them to speak in class, but when they finally do, they have some wonderful things to say! Mainly, I think the text could be updated in terms of how she views the academic world. In several chapters she discusses what it means to be a professor and how professors relate to one another and to their students. For instance, she discusses the need to take sabbaticals, how professors come from upper classes, etc. But in the academic world now, she is speaking from a place of privilege. In one section, she states "I encounter fewer and fewer academics from working-class backgrounds" and goes on to describe how that affects class relations with students. However, class dynamics have changed among professors from 1994 to 2016. I'm an adjunct. At the school I teach at, there's almost as many adjuncts as there are full-time professors. I know of English departments made up of only a few full-time professors--the rest are adjuncts. What that means is that many professors now, if not most, are working for minimum wage, or a little more. That changes some of her arguments concerning class dynamics, because being an adjunct professor is a working class profession. Most of my students come from wealthier backgrounds. Adjuncts don't get to consider sabbaticals, and often we don't get to pick the class material or class goals. This doesn't mean adjuncts can't be transgressive teachers, it just means it has to be done in different ways. In less fair ways. I'm also not sure how helpful this text would be to the professors she denounces, those who "lacked basic communication skills, they were not self-actualized, and they often used the classroom to enact rituals of control that were about domination and the unjust exercise of power." The book makes a great argument for critical pedagogy, but it doesn't actually explain how this is done for those professors who lack communication skills. That's why I think it's important for this to be a companion piece to a discussion of critical pedagogy with other professors. I also think it would be a great idea for professors to sit in on other professor's classrooms. This is required for education majors, yet most professors have never analyzed another person's teaching style. Overall, an excellent discussion, that certainly got my mind revved up for the fall semester!

  16. 4 out of 5

    zakhro

    why didn't i read this incredible book sooner? this book gives me motivation to become a teacher. to become a very good teacher. in future, when i will reunite with my dream work i will reread this book every summer before school starts to re-energize my soul as a teacher.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Diz

    This is the first book in a series by feminist scholar bell hooks on education. Key to her thoughts on education is that critical thinking and emotional engagement are important for real learning. I really enjoyed the chapters that focused on teaching practice, especially the ones where hooks relates her own classroom experiences. However, there are a few chapters in the middle of the book that are on feminist academia that don't relate directly to education. The content of these chapters is goo This is the first book in a series by feminist scholar bell hooks on education. Key to her thoughts on education is that critical thinking and emotional engagement are important for real learning. I really enjoyed the chapters that focused on teaching practice, especially the ones where hooks relates her own classroom experiences. However, there are a few chapters in the middle of the book that are on feminist academia that don't relate directly to education. The content of these chapters is good, but it feels off topic. Later books in this series have a stronger focus on the topic of education, so if you didn't enjoy this book, don't give up on the series.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    bell hooks forever. I’m not teaching and this was written in 1994, still this book is relevant and inspiring.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Althea J.

    This book gets all the stars. If you're frustrated with the world and actually want to do something about it, something revolutionary, affect actual change... TEACH. bell hooks speaks of the need to spark excitement for learning. She cites the liberation of minds as one of the key functions of education. She calls the classroom a radical space of possibility, and in Teaching to Transgress, she explains how teaching is a means of enacting progressive values of diversity, inclusion, and multicultura This book gets all the stars. If you're frustrated with the world and actually want to do something about it, something revolutionary, affect actual change... TEACH. bell hooks speaks of the need to spark excitement for learning. She cites the liberation of minds as one of the key functions of education. She calls the classroom a radical space of possibility, and in Teaching to Transgress, she explains how teaching is a means of enacting progressive values of diversity, inclusion, and multiculturalism. No more education as the transmission of information. Instead, real education calls for a student's active engagement in a learning process that is inclusive of a multiplicity of voices and encourages the interrogation of biases and boundaries via critical awareness. -- this is the cruxt of the transformational pedagogy that hooks advocates. Throughout Teaching to Transgress, hooks offers strategies for how to enact this transformational pedagogy by educating for critical consciousness. She emphasizes how change is required in both the curriculum (the material and ideas being taught) AND teaching practices, in ways that are progressive and promoting of inclusion. Some of the strategies at the heart of the change that hooks advocates include: - making the classroom a democratic setting where everybody feels responsible to contribute, building a community of learners - fostering a spirit of intellectual openness - interrogating biases - incorporating a multiplicity of voices, of the students themselves (see above) and the material (see below) - shifting away from the traditional understanding of a single norm of thought and experience (the West-centered patriarchal imperialist hegemony), to approaching a subject multiple ways with multiple references In addition to laying out actual strategies that teachers can bring into their classrooms, hooks also reflects on her experiences of challenges that have arisen when invoking these changes. She's calling for a paradigm shift and acknowledges that change is hard for both teachers and the students being asked to engage in this different approach to learning. Her experience is VALUABLE, as is her discussion of how she's dealt with the challenges that have arisen. These ideas of inclusion and critical consciousness are great, but I think this book is particularly helpful and inspiring because hooks addresses important questions like, How can one teach without reinforcing existing systems of domination (sexism, racism, classism, colonialism, etc.)? How does one address the different voices of a diverse classroom and the issues that arise in differences of race, sex, language, class backgrounds, levels of understanding, and concerns? Written in 1994, these ideas were a real departure from the traditional understanding of education. When I went to grad school in 2004, the ideas like those put forth by hooks in this book were central to the approach at Teachers College Columbia University, where I was exposed to concepts like constructivism and the changing role of teacher as facilitator as opposed to lecturer. However, with the ever-present focus on standardized testing as a means of accounting for learning, I seriously wonder if this transformational pedagogy has taken hold in actual classrooms throughout the country. THAT IS WHY THIS BOOK IS SO IMPORTANT!! This book is inspiring and hopeful! The ideas are progressive and hooks offers concrete methods for enacting change. I want to put this book in the hand of every young person who is grappling with what to do with their life. Every disillusioned revolutionary that I encounter in online spaces like Tumblr, where ideas of inclusion are so prominent. People looking to shift from abstract progressive ideas into taking action that has real results. TL;DR Want to spark actual change in the world? Read this book and become a teacher.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kendra

    AHHHHH WHY DIDN'T I READ THIS SOONER. Seriously, this book was great beyond my wildest expectations. I would put it alongside Duncan Kennedy's Legal Education and the Reproduction of Hierarchy as something that all folks who are planning on going to law school should read. So much of what bell hooks says is resonant and insightful, particularly the parts about invoking personal experience in the classroom and the fear of teachers from non-privileged groups to use non-hierarchical teaching methods. AHHHHH WHY DIDN'T I READ THIS SOONER. Seriously, this book was great beyond my wildest expectations. I would put it alongside Duncan Kennedy's Legal Education and the Reproduction of Hierarchy as something that all folks who are planning on going to law school should read. So much of what bell hooks says is resonant and insightful, particularly the parts about invoking personal experience in the classroom and the fear of teachers from non-privileged groups to use non-hierarchical teaching methods. The commentary on the relationship between white and black women also provides fundamental grounding for her critique of broader feminist theory. I plan to see if I can get some of my favorite law school teachers to read this book and discuss it with me.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dee

    I was constantly pumping my fist in the air and shouting in reverence as I read this book. She makes the art of teaching so appealing in her descriptions of the potential liberatory effects on students' minds. Beautiful. She also so eloquently and poignantly critiques current scholars (along with the US culture in general) and our so deeply ingrained racism and sexism (and other isms) even among people who consider ourselves "progressive" and "feminist."

  22. 5 out of 5

    Carolina

    Livro maravilhoso sobre pedagogia, feminismo, prática da liberdade. bell hooks me fez pensar em várias questões relacionadas à docência e ao meu estar no mundo. Recomendo a leitura a todxs!

  23. 4 out of 5

    David

    Sometimes a stone classic is a stone classic for a reason. I should have read this decades ago. Read it, even if you're not a teacher. Plenty to learn, think about, chew on, struggle with. If you are a teacher: it is a deep challenge, and a worthy one. (Side note: I'm trying to think about these challenges in teaching mathematics. It is by its nature so much more structured than certain other discourses that it can be difficult to imagine how to put some of these teaching principles into practice Sometimes a stone classic is a stone classic for a reason. I should have read this decades ago. Read it, even if you're not a teacher. Plenty to learn, think about, chew on, struggle with. If you are a teacher: it is a deep challenge, and a worthy one. (Side note: I'm trying to think about these challenges in teaching mathematics. It is by its nature so much more structured than certain other discourses that it can be difficult to imagine how to put some of these teaching principles into practice. (Not all, but some.) I'm sure people have thought about this. I just need to find the right follow-up books...)

  24. 5 out of 5

    James

    I am pretty convinced that bell hooks is incapable of writing a bad book. This is an excellent collection of essays on pedagogy from a black, liberationist perspective. Hooks describes how to challenge the dominant (white supremacist narrative), foster communal learning which honors students' co-participation in the learning environment, and what it means to work for change. Certainly she writes this for the academy, but I see ecclesial implications and I loved her essay where Gloria Watkins (ho I am pretty convinced that bell hooks is incapable of writing a bad book. This is an excellent collection of essays on pedagogy from a black, liberationist perspective. Hooks describes how to challenge the dominant (white supremacist narrative), foster communal learning which honors students' co-participation in the learning environment, and what it means to work for change. Certainly she writes this for the academy, but I see ecclesial implications and I loved her essay where Gloria Watkins (hooks's given name) interviews bell hooks on her appreciation and critical engagement with the work of Paulo Friere.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Blake Loomis

    The ideas presented here are not anything entirely new for those who frequently think about teaching and its relationship to the capitalism, the patriarchy, and whiteness. However, for those who do, bell hooks presents very compelling, validating evidence and examples. I read it just before moving into a teaching career and it is exactly what I wanted. I also think it would be extremely useful for everyone to read, to gain an understanding of exactly how far capitalism permeates our society.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Brian Kovesci

    I love tacking bell hooks' books because she has this seemingly casual way of explaining things I haven't yet considered. As much as I am savoring the works of Shirley Jackson I'm also savoring the works of bell hooks. This collection of essays concentrates on education and her work in transforming the role of the educator within the classroom. Everyone has a voice, and we can only learn from each other if we can hear every person's story. This demands the classroom to be a safe space where stud I love tacking bell hooks' books because she has this seemingly casual way of explaining things I haven't yet considered. As much as I am savoring the works of Shirley Jackson I'm also savoring the works of bell hooks. This collection of essays concentrates on education and her work in transforming the role of the educator within the classroom. Everyone has a voice, and we can only learn from each other if we can hear every person's story. This demands the classroom to be a safe space where students will not be victimized or taken lightly. It's human nature to not be challenged, but disruption is sometimes necessary to progress.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    "Teaching to Transgress" is a solid collection of essays from bell hooks. It wasn't exactly the book I was expecting, and as someone who isn't a teacher I'm probably not the target audience. Still, it contained some fascinating rumination on many topics, among which my favorite essays addressed: the role of class and linguistic backgrounds in the classroom, the corporeal presence of teachers and their own needs, teaching students to question what they are being taught rather than conditioning th "Teaching to Transgress" is a solid collection of essays from bell hooks. It wasn't exactly the book I was expecting, and as someone who isn't a teacher I'm probably not the target audience. Still, it contained some fascinating rumination on many topics, among which my favorite essays addressed: the role of class and linguistic backgrounds in the classroom, the corporeal presence of teachers and their own needs, teaching students to question what they are being taught rather than conditioning them to passively accept and regurgitate.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    Prepare yourselves, I'm about to get effusive. I ordered a copy of this the minute I finished reading my library copy. This book is incredible - timeless and immediate, hopeful and encouraging, thoughtful and candid. hooks' admission that she never wanted to be a teacher, never saw herself as one, yet still finds joy and energy in the classroom is so encouraging to this reluctant, nervous teacher. I hope that I can bring hooks' ideas of embodiment, openness, and whole humanity to my work. This is Prepare yourselves, I'm about to get effusive. I ordered a copy of this the minute I finished reading my library copy. This book is incredible - timeless and immediate, hopeful and encouraging, thoughtful and candid. hooks' admission that she never wanted to be a teacher, never saw herself as one, yet still finds joy and energy in the classroom is so encouraging to this reluctant, nervous teacher. I hope that I can bring hooks' ideas of embodiment, openness, and whole humanity to my work. This is a volume I will be referring to again and again. My guilt for sleeping on this title for so long is overshadowed by the fact that it met me at exactly the right time.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Zachary Taylor

    As I read Teaching to Transgress by bell hooks, feminist scholar and critical theorist, I was repeatedly reminded of my favorite professor and mentor at university, an ethicist who transformed my worldview, my politics, and my career aspirations. When hooks stresses that a teacher should cultivate individual voices in the classroom, to foster impassioned conversations where students truly “look at” each other and “do not just talk to the professor,” I immediately conjure Howard in my poverty stu As I read Teaching to Transgress by bell hooks, feminist scholar and critical theorist, I was repeatedly reminded of my favorite professor and mentor at university, an ethicist who transformed my worldview, my politics, and my career aspirations. When hooks stresses that a teacher should cultivate individual voices in the classroom, to foster impassioned conversations where students truly “look at” each other and “do not just talk to the professor,” I immediately conjure Howard in my poverty studies classes, when I would make a point in response to another student while I nevertheless addressed Howard, and he would stare at me, blankly, and shout, “Don’t talk to me! Talk to Layney!” When hooks speaks of eros and eroticism in the classroom, and the potential for the teacher to show real care and even love for her students, I think of Howard’s unparalleled enthusiasm for ethics and his passion for justice, and how, in response to his passion, I was drawn to love the texts we read, the thinkers we studied, and the transformative ideas I know can make communities more just. Above all, when hooks addresses “the notion of pleasure in the classroom,” the very simple idea that education should be fun, I remember the excitement I experienced in Howard’s classes and the literal joy I felt whenever I entered his classroom with my peers. I was never bored, never not alert to the way that Howard made his classroom a “site of resistance,” where I could learn and become self-actualized, where I could weep in sorrow and tremble with the sense of immense responsibility I felt for the lives of others. I confess with the utmost sincerity that Howard fundamentally altered the direction of my life. His commitment to critically-informed instruction, to “education as the practice of freedom,” to use hooks’s term, made a profound impact on who I am and what I intend to do with my education. I must also confess, however, that I am a white heterosexual man from an upper-middle class family. Howard, likewise, is a white heterosexual man with a full-time position as a tenure-track professor at a private liberal arts university. Clearly, hooks is not primarily concerned that education as the practice of freedom “liberates” well-off white men like me with a penchant for philosophy, who found their vocation in a seminar classroom at a wealthy, predominantly white institution (she does, however, call attention to the importance of white male professors committed to her critical approach, and critiques the notion that such professors cannot or should not adopt her proposals out of concern for appropriation). While I nevertheless maintain that Howard, despite his whiteness and maleness, provides a model of possibility for the academic instructor hooks envisions, hooks sees education as the practice of freedom as liberatory praxis that frees people of color (especially women of color) from the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum from the systemic patterns of domination reinforced in the traditional university classroom. Influenced heavily by Paulo Freire, hooks calls for a revolution of educational values that empowers students and instructors alike, and that prioritizes “joy in cultural diversity” and “a passion for justice” in academic environments. To that end, hooks mixes critical theory, reflection, and practical advice in this collection of essays that addresses a wide spectrum of issues: the role of lived experience in classroom discussions; the reasons for and current state of the sociocultural distance between women of color and white women; the repeated pattern of feminist exclusion of black lived experience from feminist theory; the relationship between theory and praxis; and the importance of eroticism and ecstasy in the classroom, to name just a few. Some essays work better than others. “Theory as Liberatory Practice” and “Essentialism and Experience” are, for me, the most incisive. In the former, hooks seeks to democratize what constitutes “theory” (so that it takes seriously personal testimony and experience) while she also affirms its potential to name previously unnamed and amorphous oppressive phenomena, and thus ultimately to heal oppressed subjects. In the latter, hooks systematically takes apart Diana Fuss’s chapter in Essentially Speaking, “Essentialism in the Classroom,” wherein Fuss sharply criticizes the use of experiential narratives in the classroom as a point of departure for analysis and as a base from which to espouse universal truths. While hooks readily admits that essentialist claims made by students based on their lived experiences should not exclude others from classroom discussions about racism, sexism, classism, etc. (“I have seen the way essentialist standpoints can be used to silence or assert authority over the opposition”), she stresses the need for teachers to “affirm the value and uniqueness of each [student’s] voice,” and this may require teachers to accept the validity of experiential narratives in conjunction with theory. The ideal scenario, hooks explains, is when “experience links discussions of facts or more abstract constructs to concrete reality.” One other point of emphasis in Teaching to Transgress stands out to me. Repeatedly, hooks returns to the problems with a Cartesian mind-body dualism that valorizes the disembodied mind of teachers (and students) at the expense of their bodies. “Our romantic notion of the professor is so tied to a sense of the transitive mind,” hooks writes, “a mind that, in a sense, is always at odds with the body.” The most powerful subjects, she insists, can deny their bodies, since their bodies (white bodies, male bodies) do not really matter; their minds are what count. For people of color, however, bodies matter much more; the presence of a black body in a predominantly white classroom cannot not attract attention for the mere fact that it is not supposed to inhabit that space; the black body is thus an interloper in most academic environments. hooks also ties her mind-body critique to the notion of work in the classroom. “I think part of why everyone in the culture . . . [has] a tendency to see professors as people who don’t work,” she writes, “is totally tied to that sense of the immobile body. Part of the class separation between what we [professors] do and what the majority of people in this culture can do is that they move their bodies.” To resist this dualistic separation and implicitly advocate for a mind-body union, teachers should move their bodies in the classroom in a way that makes them more visible and more accessible to students. To this I would add that a certain physicality to one’s instruction exudes vulnerability in front of one’s students, which I have found particularly effective. Once my students realized that, like them, I inhabit a vulnerable body (which I can injure, for instance; when I hurt my back one week, students were somewhat amazed that I could hardly move around the classroom), I found it much easier to connect with them interpersonally, and thereby found it easier to teach them. Concretely, then, what can I take away from hooks’s collection of essays? What can I do in my own classroom—I teach Latin—to make it a site of resistance, to enact “education as the practice of freedom”? First and foremost, I must and have started to make curricular alterations to the standard Latin curriculum. This means that students must not only memorize noun declensions and all six Latin tenses, they must also learn about slavery in Roman society, the role of women, and attitudes toward race and ethnicity in the ancient Mediterranean; via these topics, students can make connections to contemporary racism, sexism, and classism. They must also learn how white supremacists often appropriate classical culture for racist and xenophobic ends; consequently, I need to help students devise ways to respond to this appropriation that dispel the myth of “western civilization” and make the study of classics more accessible to all people, especially students of color. Since I have written elsewhere about what such curricular modifications may look like, and since so many more experienced classicists (especially those whose scholarship pertains to questions of ancient race and ethnicity) have also written on this topic, I turn to more broad-based, day-to-day techniques I intend to implement to enact education as the practice of freedom. Inspired primarily by hooks’s conversation with Dr. Ron Scapp, a white male philosopher similarly committed to education as the practice of freedom—hooks includes their discussion in one of the most powerful chapters of Teaching to Transgress—I identified four ways that I can “teach in a manner that respects and cares for the souls of [my] students,” that provides them with tools to “enhance their capacity to live fully and deeply.” They are not radical. To the contrary, they are extremely practical; as such, they are necessary methods, while by no means sufficient to actualize the liberatory education hooks envisions. First, I will incorporate more student-led lessons into the curriculum. As a teacher, I know how well one can learn when one must teach that same material to others. Student-led lessons, however, not only help students learn Latin more effectively, they also affirm their subjectivity and underscore their individual importance to the success of our class. Second, I will allow students to craft some of their own assessments within reasonable parameters. Once more, this fosters students’ sense of self-worth and their subjectivity, and it also makes them appreciate what it takes to create a fair assessment. It prompts them to ask how to sequence an assessment and differentiate its sections, what content it should assess, and how to predict the time it will take students to complete the assessment. This exercise provides students with a sneak-peek behind the teacher curtain, as it were, which may help foster the sense that our class is a community of learners with the same objectives: to read Latin and to learn more about ancient Roman culture. I want my students to realize that their assessments, these ostensibly arbitrary metrics by which I evaluate their performance in my class, do not simply drop from the sky; they come from a subject (me), just like them, who must make difficult choices aimed at fair evaluation. Third, I will frequently remind my students, just as hooks and Scapp remind theirs, that joy can co-exist with hard work. “Not every moment in the classroom will necessarily be one [of] immediate pleasure,” Scapp says, “but that doesn’t preclude the possibility of joy.” Pain or difficulty need not translate into harm, and can in fact project a student toward self-actualization. To anyone who has weathered hard times with fortitude and resilience and ended up better for it, this is a lesson known all too well, yet it is infrequently communicated in the classrooms I know. To be frank, when it comes to Latin, discomfort is a prerequisite to the joy one experiences when one reads ancient texts—Latin is hard to learn. Finally, I will invoke hooks verbatim, and habitually tell my students that “it’s not just my job to make this class work. It’s everyone’s responsibility.” Students and teachers alike should claim ownership for the success of a class. As a community of learners, we must communicate effectively what works and what doesn’t; we must participate with our whole bodies and minds, and reject a mind-body dualism that elevates the cerebral over the physical; we must focus on emotions, “not just on whether [they] produce pleasure or pain, but on how they keep us aware or alert,” so we are “reminded that [emotions] enhance the classroom,” not diminish it. In short, we must all be flexible, conscientious, and above all co-liberators. Education as the practice of freedom demands no less. As stated earlier, these are minor alterations. Yet they represent an important first step, I believe, in my attempt to become a feminist, non-racist instructor who resists and upends systemic patterns of domination that have fossilized into traditional classroom norms. Just as hooks wants teachers to raise critical consciousness in their classrooms, she awakens critical consciousness in her readers, us teachers. Teaching to Transgress is an essential text for all teachers, especially those who wish to make their classrooms sites of resistance yet question how to do that. While hooks may primarily speak to the particular classroom experience of professors, her recommendations and exhortations are just as applicable to secondary and even primary school teachers. Most enjoyably, hooks is a stellar writer; her prose is sharp and accessible, her analyses incisive and clear. There is, then, no justifiable excuse for any teacher not to read this foundational and transformative text in the field of education.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Charlie Wiswall

    Wished I’d read this in university.

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