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Teaching to Transgress

I read this book, “Teaching to Transgress" by bell hooks (1994) about ten years ago. I remember hooks talked about “engaged pedagogy"; this concept has really stayed with me. hooks (1994) writes the following:

"To educate as the practice of freedom is a way of teaching that anyone can learn. That learning process comes easiest to those of us who teach who also believe that there is an aspect of our vocation that is sacred; who believe that our work is not merely to share information but to share in the intellectual and spiritual growth of our students. To teach in a manner that respects and cares for the souls of our students is essential is we are to provide the necessary conditions where learning can most deeply and intimately begin." (p. 13).

As I re-engage myself in teaching, I am reminded of this idea of “engaged pedagogy." Most universities (especially research one universities) have a focus on research and not on pedagogy or, for that matter, “engaged pedagogy." With teacher training, I think there is a parallel process of engaging future teachers in the pedagogy of pedagogy.

Good teaching is about being present, being active (in all respects), being authentic, being transparent, being patient, being creative, being flexible, and being engaged (on all levels) – all in a safe, nurturing, theatrical, and exploratory environment. With these conditions, education can be about “the practice of freedom." If learning is about taking risks, good teaching should be about creating spaces for risk-taking. If learning is a process, teaching is a process.