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Book 6: Teaching to Trangress (hooks)

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Started this one a while back and finally had a chance to finish it. Teaching to Transgress is a series of essays on pedagogy, the role of a teacher, gender, race, feminism, etc.

Throughout the essays, some of the main themes are engaged pedagogy and education as freedom. Typical education primarily gives power to the educator and, in a sense, holds captive those being educated – captive to the instructor’s agenda, biases, etc. Education as freedom does not attempt to avoid the power differences present in a teaching setting, recognizing that there is an inherent power difference between a teacher and students, but works to engage students in experiential, impassioned, accessible, and disrupting education.

Here’s a great quote that I posted earlier, when I had just begun reading this book last year (it took me a full year, but I finished!):

When education is the practice of freedom, students are not the only ones who are asked to share, to confess. Engaged pedagogy does not seek simply to empower students. Any classroom that employs a holistic model of learning will also be a place where teachers grow, and are empowered by the process. That empowerment cannot happen if we refuse to be vulnerable while encouraging students to take risks. Professors who expect students to share confessional narratives but who are themselves unwilling to share are exercising power in a manner that could be coercive. In my classrooms, I do not expect students to take any risks that I would not take, to share in any way I would not share. When professors bring narratives of their experiences into classroom discussions it eliminates the possibility that we can function as all-knowing, silent interrogators. It is often productive if professors take the first risk, linking confessional narratives to academic discussions so as to show how experience can illuminate and enhance our understanding of academic materials. But most professors must practice being vulnerable in the classroom, being wholly present in mind, body, and spirit.

– bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress, 21.

This is Book 6 of hopefully many that will be read and posted about during Christmas Break 2011!

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