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 

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