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Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  5,765 ratings  ·  375 reviews
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
Paperback, 216 pages
Published September 14th 1994 by Routledge (first published September 12th 1994)
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Nicole Harris I actually read Freire after reading hooks - I think she goes into enough detail without needing to have read him first but both have proven to be equ…moreI actually read Freire after reading hooks - I think she goes into enough detail without needing to have read him first but both have proven to be equally valuable! Geneva Gay is also in a similar category for me 😊(less)
Delores Author, publication year, title of book, where published, publisher - same requirements as any book. Refer to the book itself for the information.

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Oct 18, 2008 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
Meagen Farrell
Jun 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: education
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 teachi ...more
Apr 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: all folks in higher ed, especially those who teach
"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."
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Overall, a quite stimulating read. The first few essays somewhat less so (partly because I am not American, and haven't lived there), but starting with the fifth essay, quite a lot of what hooks talks about resonated.*
The overall theme is rethinking education practices (for teachers), and one's own expectations (and behavior/stance) as a student, given that both contribute to the environment and atmosphere of the classroom, influencing how and what we learn -- by which I mean both the material
Jan 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Mar 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Nov 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Nov 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
bell hooks is one of those authors whose work, even when 25 years old as this one is, seldom fails to invoke and inspire. One of the major names in contemporary cultural theory and analysis, a literary scholar of considerable impact and a leading figure in black feminist theory, her writing is notable for its accessibility as essays for general audiences. This collection opens with a confession, that she never saw herself as becoming a teacher – she expected to teach, but only as a way to suppor ...more
Gracie Hopkins
Apr 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I don’t know what it is about reading bell hooks but it feels like you’re talking to a friend. She speaks in a way that makes me want to understand the world better and she writes in a way that makes me want to pick up a pen and write it all down.
Dec 06, 2011 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
May 03, 2016 added it
Shelves: theeeeeeory
bell hooks is someone whose influence is everywhere, even if her name isn't. Any time the concept of intersectionality is invoked in the blogosphere, or an educator writes an article in Salon or Slate about the need for an educational method that addresses the needs of working-class youth, you can trace a direct line to hooks' thought, and Teaching to Transgress evidences all of these connections. She writes not only from a theoretical perspective, but places it firmly in her experiences both as ...more
Jun 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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.
Jul 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, theory
I think this is my favourite hooks book so far!
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
Jul 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
"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
Feb 28, 2018 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Kyle Smith
Jul 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Of course, there were essays in this text that didn’t resonate as much with me, but hooks’s student-centered pedagogy is truly inspirational, making me wish I could return to the classroom on Monday with my students.
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
bell hooks forever. I’m not teaching and this was written in 1994, still this book is relevant and inspiring.
rosa guac
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sociology
the English language can’t begin to describe the affect this book had on me, so I leave you with emojis:

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
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing

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.
Nov 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: critical thinkers
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."
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Two central themes in this polemical book:

(1) there are a diverse groups of people in the education system, who encounter issues they from prejudice - which are ignored and/or not lack understood from many teachers

(2) the education system sucks at teaching people things

Hooks begins by stating from when she entered school a great deal of schooling as a black woman was trying to prove she could be equal to the white students. This perspective gave her a philosophical bent which is quite useful
David Goldman
Apr 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Hooks’ radical takedown of standard pedagogy, even when taught by by otherwise progressive teachers.
Her teaching focuses on generating excitement, even ecstasy,, engagement, and instance that everyone’s presence be acknowledged. Her core belief is the 'classroom remains the place of possibility in the academy.” Rejecting the banking theory of school, she contrasts learning with building knowledge . yearns for a teaching community. But it too often stymied by the for power by the teacher, failure
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
Brian Kovesci
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
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bell hooks (born Gloria Jean Watkins) is an African-American author, feminist, and social activist. Her writing has focused on the interconnectivity of race, class, and gender and their ability to produce and perpetuate systems of oppression and domination. She has published over thirty books and numerous scholarly and mainstream articles, appeared in several documentary films and participated in ...more

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In these strange days of quarantine and isolation, books can be a mode of transport. We may have to stay home and stay still, but through t...
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“There are times when personal experience keeps us from reaching the mountain top and so we let it go because the weight of it is too heavy. And sometimes the mountain top is difficult to reach with all our resources, factual and confessional, so we are just there, collectively grasping, feeling the limitations of knowledge, longing together, yearning for a way to reach that highest point. Even this yearning is a way to know.” 73 likes
“The classroom remains the most radical space of possibility in the academy” 10 likes
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