Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom (hooks)

I admit that I read this book in fits and starts, much the way I drive a shift car whenever I try it. I’m not sure what caused me to turn to it again, but it seems like I was finally ready for it, and so I became fully engaged and finished it. And I’m glad I did.

hooks is challenging. Sometimes, it’s the vocabulary or jargon, which can be annoying. Mostly, though, it is her ideas. Though they can sometimes take several paragraphs to emerge (at least for me), they resonate with me, compel a pause, a sense of feeling known as a white male teacher without (and this is a true balancing act) being judged.

She is able to make real the often elusive notion of ‘voice.’ She has challenged me to (re)think the role of personal stories in class and my expectations for classroom conduct – that of the students and my own. What and who do I privilege and why? How does my self – both physical and mental – enter the ‘space’ (a word hooks admires) that is a classroom? Do I spend more time considering the boys (who are sometimes led out of our school in handcuffs) than the girls? Have I lumped our female students of color in with all females? Do I respond better to those who know how to do school? There is so much I don’t know about myself and my students – so much that hooks has prompted me to try to investigate.

I support fully her notion that so often we spend our time and our meetings and our energy on what we teach at the expense of (re)considering how we teach.

These essays are not always easy to read, but they build, they cohere, they ask, and they trouble what we think we know. I’d like to talk about them with someone.

Do you have any other hooks titles to recommend?


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