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Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  3,892 Ratings  ·  222 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 (first published 1994)
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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 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 ...more
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 te ...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 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
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 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Not often that an academic work will make me cry, but this did. Powerful and polemic and relentlessly hopeful, this is a book that looks toward the future and seeks to change the reality of academia. hooks addresses, in a series of linked essays, various issues relating to her own experiences in academia as both a student and a teacher, as a black woman from a working class background.

It talks about language, the mind-body in teaching, about the problems of racist, patriarchal systems that lurk
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
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!
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
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.
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, 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."
Feb 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Katrina Sark
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Introduction: Teaching to Transgress

p.8 – Excitement is generated through collective effort. Seeing the classroom always as a communal place enhances the likelihood of collective effort in creating and sustaining a learning community.

p.9 – But the work of various thinkers on radical pedagogy (I use this term to include critical and/or feminist perspectives) has in recent years truly included a recognition of differences – those determined by class, race, sexual practice, nationality, and so on.
Nov 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In light of recent events, the "engaged pedagogy" bell hooks describes, promotes, and practices is more important than ever (202). It almost seems reductionist to try to label her pedagogy as feminist or radical or critical or anything else, because it is inclusive, encompassing. It's about empowerment and equality. And her writing style is so accessible and frank. She keeps it 100. And she's always talking about class - the quickest way to my heart.

Her dissection and rejection of the mind/body
The idea of education as a powerful means of social change is one I've been thinking about a lot lately. In my own thoughts I tend to focus on methods of teaching outside of a classroom setting, since my role in academia is that of a student and a tutor, as opposed to a professional teacher. I don't believe that my lack of experience teaching in a classroom prevents me from being a potential source of change, though. I would like to think that everyone has the potential to teach others, and that ...more
Zach Irvin
Jun 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: teachers
I devoured this book. It's the first pedagogy book I've ever read all the way through, and I thought it was incredible. Even though she begins by saying she never really wanted to be a teacher, she clearly exhibits the passion for teaching that has grown inside her over the years. I found the writing to be very intimate and powerful. hooks lays bare the struggles and triumphs she has experienced with a remarkable honesty. In doing so she deftly displays how personal experience can be used to enh ...more
Feb 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Reading this kind of made me want to get back to being in more of a classroom learning environment.

borrowed from Emilys. The chapter on essentialism and experience was important to me. She says, "..While I, too, critique the use of essentialism and identity politics as a strategy for exclusion or domination, I am suspicious when theories call this practice harmful as a way of suggesting that it is a strategy only marginalized groups employ." She is addressing that there are kinds of (essentiali
Courtney Stoker
I reread this book every summer to revitalize myself as a teacher. hooks gives both theoretical and practical approaches to help you make your classroom a site of liberatory education. A lot of pedagogical theory seeks to create a controlled classroom, and this is the pedagogy students often expect. They expect teachers to want them to be quiet, passive, and controlled, to talk about subjects without emotion and without referring to personal experience. They expect 1-way education, in which teac ...more
Dec 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Inspiring and I can see how this would have been a transformative read in the 90s. If you're someone who works with race theory, then this may be a disappointment. If you're someone who is interested in doing something for those students who are disproportionately disadvantaged and rarely think about race or gender, then this is a great book to start with. I still absolutely loved the first half. Those seeking specific tools to transform their pedagogy may be disappointed. This is more about adj ...more
Breno Filo
Mar 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Uma leitura necessária e acessível para a comunidade escolar como um todo. Bell trata com muita proximidade às suas experiências pessoais as diversas transições que o ensino - enquanto troca de saberes e experiências - sofreu em nosso tempo, e as consequentes problematizações entre as complexidades de gênero, raciais, linguísticas, sociais, corpóreas e epistemológicas que tais mudanças acarretaram.

Meu desejo de lecionar foi alimentado com uma força sem precedentes.
Rachel Smalter Hall
May 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays, feminist, american
Teaching to Transgress might be one of the most important books I’ll ever read. When I picked it up, I’d been wrestling with the decision to become an academic or a civil servant. bell hooks has written that “education is the practice of freedom,” and she inspires me to transgress the boundaries of conventional education and practice what is closest to my heart.
Mar 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm so glad to have been reintroduced to a writer I loved in college. I need to read more of her work. Immediately.
Oct 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2016
One of the best texts I have ever read. Certainly things to be critical about, but a book I would recommend to teacher, student, parent, or 'layperson' without hesitation.
kathryn robinson
Nov 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Pure brilliance! This was my first Hooks book. The subtitle Education as the Practice of Freedom says it all...
Seongkyul Park
May 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
I took the license to talk about bellhooks and her ideas for years without having read her myself... but reading her in person, I cried and got impatient and yelped and indulged in the whole circus show of satisfaction that comes when in pursuit of intellectual/spiritual liberation through learning, as advocated by bell hooks.

While I was familiar with most of her feminist commentary, it was especially a joy to reminded that deep intellectual inquiry- in its freest forms- can be a revolutionary,
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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.” 66 likes
“Many women do not join organized resis­tance against sexism precisely because sexism has not meant an absolute lack of choices. They may know they are discriminated against on the basis of sex, but they do not equate this with oppres­sion. Under capitalism, patriarchy is structured so that sexism restricts women's behavior in some realms even as freedom from limitations is allowed in other spheres. The absence of extreme re­strictions leads many women to ignore the areas in which they are exploited or discriminated against; it may even lead them to imagine that no women are oppressed.” 3 likes
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