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Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom (Harvest in Translation)

46 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0415908085
ISBN-10: 0415908086
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cultural theorist hooks means to challenge preconceptions, and it is a rare reader who will be able to walk away from her without considerable thought. Despite the frequent appearance of the dry word "pedagogy," this collection of essays about teaching is anything but dull or detached. hooks begins her meditations on class, gender and race in the classroom with the confession that she never wanted to teach. By combining personal narrative, essay, critical theory, dialogue and a fantasy interview with herself (the latter artificial construct being the least successful), hooks declares that education today is failing students by refusing to acknowledge their particular histories. Criticizing the teaching establishment for employing an over-factualized knowledge to deny and suppress diversity, hooks accuses colleagues of using "the classroom to enact rituals of control that were about domination and the unjust exercise of power." Far from a castigation of her field, however, Teaching to Transgress is full of hope and excitement for the possibility of education to liberate and include. She is a gentle, though firm, critic, as in the essay "Holding My Sister's Hand," which could well become a classic about the distrust between black and white feminists. While some will find her rejection of certain difficult theory narrow-minded, it is a small flaw in an inspired and thought-provoking collection.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Feminist writer and English professor hooks shares insights, strategies, and critical reflections on pedagogical practice.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Harvest in Translation
  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (September 14, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415908086
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415908085
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,068 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bell Hooks is a cultural critic, feminist theorist, and writer. Celebrated as one of our nation's leading public intellectual by The Atlantic Monthly, as well as one of Utne Reader's 100 Visionaries Who Could Change Your Life, she is a charismatic speaker who divides her time among teaching, writing, and lecturing around the world. Previously a professor in the English departments at Yale University and Oberlin College, hooks is now a Distinguished Professor of English at City College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She is the author of more than seventeen books, including All About Love: New Visions; Remembered Rapture: The Writer at Work; Wounds of Passion: A Writing Life; Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood; Killing Rage: Ending Racism; Art on My Mind: Visual Politics; and Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life. She lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

139 of 163 people found the following review helpful By Simone on November 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
In reading this book, I was reminded of a wonderful Professor of Humanities at the university that I attended. He taught in just the style that hook's describes in her text: democratic and liberatory. He was a white man who taught a course on African-American culture. At the time my classmates and I were too busy being angry, sometimes very vocally, about the fact that the course was being taught by a white man as most such courses were (can I say are ?) at that institution, which is not to say that our concern was/is unfounded or illegitmate. What we didn't do was understand the place where he was coming from. He was genuine. A very sincere teacher who would always make time for students and was always working to help more people of colour advance themselves. His classroom was also a very open and safe place. We were encouraged to discuss and challenge ideas, and we did. The way that this man taught was so obviously a labour of love that five years after taking the course, and while reading Teaching To Transgress, is when I could actually recognize the value in what I was given in that classroom by that teacher. He is one of two professors that were transgressive teachers in my 4 1/2 years of undergraduate study, both of whom were white (one man, one woman) and quite obviously believed in a liberatory pedagogy. I never had a black professor during my entire recently-concluded undergraduate career. Which I think still speaks to the concern had by myself and my peers in our first year of university. However, "education as the practice of freedom" is a view that can be held by anyone who believes in it and transgressive teaching can be done by anyone who is committed to working with students to transform the limiting structures that form the basis of our society and, consequently, the foundation of our institutions, which are in and of themselves problematic, aren't they ?
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69 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Toby, an educator on April 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
hooks does an exemplary job of illuminating, in accessible language, the ways in which race, class and sex intersect in "the academy" and in the classroom. I highly recommend this book to anyone who teaches -- in higher ed or K-12.
If you are White and/or middle class and are willing to *listen* to what hooks offers, you may well say, after reading her book: "I was blind, but now I see."
hooks may not cater to a middle-class, white readership (nor should she), but those of us who fall into those categories certainly can learn from her experiences and from her critical analysis.Open your mind. Let your defenses down. And sink into a book that can change the way you approach classroom instruction -- and, perhaps, the way you live your life.
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31 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A. Kee on August 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is essential for faculty who believe in libratory education. When I got my first job as an instructor I read a few books on college teaching and they were fine for nuts and bolts like how to plan a syllabus. However, hooks writes about heart-matters that really affect teaching and learning like engagement, multiculturalism, theory, feminism, community, class, and eroticism.

For example, she discusses teaching which engages the learner (why is this taken for granted preK-12 but abandoned at grade 13?) and being a diverse teacher with diverse classes in a predominantly white male academy (if you're female, or not white, or not straight, or 'political', this is you), and other topics essential to understanding the undercurrents which happen every day in lectures across the country.

I must say that I am struck by the strongly negative reactions of some reviewers. For me this book was an oasis in the desert.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 7, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the third of three books on liberation pedagogy that I picked up, the other two being Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics, Democracy, and Civic Courage (Critical Perspectives Series) and Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

This book is a collection of essays by a woman of color who studied with Freire and found in his works her own liberation and her inspiration to take his ideas and practices further.

I am shocked early on to realize that her description of black schools prior to desegregation as better, because their teachers were passionate about helping them excel, whereas in integrated schools they were treated as second class citizens and taught obedience, rings true.

I see feminist pedagogy in a new more positive light.

The author represents a unique interplay among anticolonial, critical, and feminist pedagogies.

She resonates with me when she speaks of the crisis in education; of our need for a totally renewed educational environment in which biases must be confronted and students liberated.

Her strong statement that education should be the practice of freedom is repeated in many different ways throughout the book.

She states, and I have three sons in public school who would agree, that transgressing wrong-headed boundaries is liberating and entirely called for.
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