Teaching to Transgress

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. ~ bell hooks


In Chapter 18 of The Skillful Teacher, Stephen D. Brookfield cites bell hooks work on exercising teacher power wisely. As can be expected, hooks provides a thoughtful assessment of the teacher’s position of power as one that can work “in ways that diminish or in ways that enrich” (hooks, 1989, p. 52). This statement comes from her book Teaching to Transgress: Education as the the Practice of Freedom in which she argues the classroom to be a site of both constraint but also potentially a space of liberation. This chapter inspired me to investigate her approach further and what I found really resonated with me. I particularly liked her definition of teaching as “a catalyst that calls everyone to become more and more engaged” (11).

Here are some of my favourite internet resources on hooks and teaching:

Radical Openness

Teaching according to bell hooks  

Engaged Pedagogy

and just for fun

Saved by the bell hooks 

Can art amend history?


This week a student sent me an email sharing a link to a TEDtalk she thought I would enjoy. In the message, she said, “I think what he is saying in the video is something you made a huge effort to do in class.”

YES, YES, YES! I can’t describe how happy I was to hear a student not only understand some of what I was trying to accomplish, but also recognize it as part of my teaching philosophy!

Here is the TEDtalk “Can art amend history?” by Titus Kaphar.


Learn more about his work at the Jack Shainman Gallery.  


“There is no Apolitical Classroom”

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What a crazy week it has been. I really wish I was teaching a course on sculpture this fall. Boy would there ever be some interesting conversations.

One of the only positives to emerge amidst some of the heartbreaking recent events has been a tidal wave of conversations, posts, and resources on how to take a stand agains racism.

Yesterday, NCTE’s Standing Committee Against Racism and Bias in the Teaching of English posted the following statement along with these resources “to use as statements of love and support.”

We know that racism exists in our classrooms and in our communities. We feel that silence on these issues is complicity in the systemic racism that has marred our educational system. We see no place for neutrality and urge each member of NCTE to educate as many people as possible about the ways that systemic racism affects all of us in negative ways.

There is no apolitical classroom. English language arts teachers must examine the ways that racism has personally shaped their beliefs and must examine existing biases that feed systems of oppression. In light of the horrific events in this country that continue to unfold, and the latest terrorism in Charlottesville, Virginia, we would like to share resources that we hope will encourage all NCTE members to speak out against the racism and bias that have been a part of our nation’s fabric since the first immigrants disembarked from European ships.


Bloom’s Taxonomy: Art History Edition

Am I the only one super excited to see a Bloom’s taxonomy created for art history?

Document10 copyThanks Laetitia La Follett!

La Follette, Laetitia. 2017. “Bloom’s Taxonomy for Art History. Blending A Skills-Based Approach into The Traditional Introductory Survey.” Art History Pedagogy & Practice 2, (1).

Adopt a Critically Reflective Stance



In The Skillful Teacher, Stephen D. Brookfield emphasizes the importance of teaching that is contextually informed. He explains that this critical reflection is really identifying and questioning if in fact the content we are teaching is accurate and valid for the students.  In order to do so there are four lenses through which we can check the accuracy of our actions and assumptions. The first, students’ eyes, is perhaps obvious but there are three others that provide feedback: colleagues perceptions, educational literature, and our own personal autobiographies (p. 20).

Brookfield, S. (2006). The skillful teacher: On trust, technique and responsiveness in the classroom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Razvan Sibii

While writing my second reflective journal entry, I came across the work of Razvan Sibii. Sibii teaches in the Department of Communication at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I find the kind of project based learning he is working on very inspiring!

Check it out HERE!

PIDP 3260 Professional Practice

Professionalism is knowing how to do it, when to do it, and doing it. 

Frank Tyger


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This week I am starting one of my last PIDP courses, Professional Practice. Over the next few weeks you will see several posts based on assignments and reflections on the assigned textbook, The Skillful Teacher: On Technique, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom. 

I am an art historian currently teaching at Langara College and Kwanten Polytechnic University. This year I will have developed and delivered six new courses, most of them well outside my area of expertise. With so many new courses being implemented I am especially interested in gathering feedback from learners.

Each PIDP course transforms how I think about pedagogy and my approach to teaching. And given my professional goals to one day step into university administration I think this class will be equally transformative.

Here’s to lifelong learning and continuous improvement!