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Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom

4.42  ·  Rating details ·  6,765 ratings  ·  496 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 12th 1994 by Routledge
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axmed not at all. i haven't read any of Paulo Freire's work and when i do, i'm glad to have read her view on his work first.

i'd highly recommend reading th…more
not at all. i haven't read any of Paulo Freire's work and when i do, i'm glad to have read her view on his work first.

i'd highly recommend reading this book and then the other 2 of bell hook's teaching trilogy.(less)
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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
i wish i'd read fanon and freire before this! overall interesting, though the chapter on eros in the classroom was 🥴 ...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." ...more
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
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 critica ...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
Jul 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theory, 2016
I think this is my favourite hooks book so far!
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.
J Lopez
This book is still so relevant for our work s educators in the classroom.
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
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
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.
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:

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
Aug 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teaching, feminism
One of my most cherished professional experiences is sharing a few moments of conversation sitting next to THE bell hooks--no joke!--in 2004 at the National Council of Teachers of English.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a front row guy--whether I am at a concert or an author reading, you'll find me close to the stage. So I had gotten to the event early and was rereading *Teaching to Transgress* when up walks bell and takes a seat next to me.

bell hooks has had a profound impact on my trajecto
Stephen C.
Jan 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
So many ways to cut this review that i find it hard to proceed, so will start with this: chapters 10 thru the end should be absolutely required reading for anyone who teaches regularly. Hook’s script from her dialogue with a close colleague was, in my opinion, a master class on how to wrap your mind, body and soul around engaged pedagogy, community-building, passion-play, paolo feire, intersectionality (big props to Kimberle Crenshaw), and the pofession as a calling. He chapters that follow that ...more
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
Dec 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Any classroom that employs a holistic model of learning will also be a place where teachers grow, and are empowered by the process."

"The classroom, with all its limitations, remains a location of possibility."

bell hooks speaks so openly about the highs and lows of teaching: fear, passion, change, mistakes, mutual growth. It's always energizing to read her essays and be reminded of the impact of transformative pedagogical practices on both students and teachers.
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.
Aug 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A book that should be mandatory reading for all teachers and students - about critical thinking, radical openness, AGAINST the western, white, male centred vision of education as order and silence on the part of the students, instead FOR education as the practice of freedom.
Carla Sofia Sofia
Aug 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: urban-education
This should be required reading for every teacher.
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.
Jan 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is probably the best book I've ever read on education!!! ...more
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
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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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“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.” 77 likes
“As a classroom community, our capacity to generate excitement is deeply affected by our interest in one another, in hearing one another’s voices, in recognizing one another’s presence.” 17 likes
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