Excerpts from Teaching to Transgress: Education As the Practice of Freedom

hooks, bell (1994)

Professor hooks (she uses all lower case to spell her name) offers a vision of pedagogy as an active democracy.  Following is a collection of quotes which relate to her idea of 'coming to voice'.

 

Page 20
The engaged voice must never be fixed and absolute but always changing, always evolving in dialogue with a world beyond itself.


Page 29
I have quoted his writing at length because it is testimony affirming engaged pedagogy. It means that my voice is not the only account of what happens in the classroom.


Page 47
This reminded us that it is difficult for individuals to shift paradigms and that there must be a setting for folks to voice fears, to talk about what they are doing, how thev are doing it, and why


Page 49
They have told me that many professors never showed anv interest in hearing their voices. Accepting the decentcring of the V\'est globally, embracing multiculturalism, compels educators to focus attention on the issue of voice. Who speaks? Who listens? And why? Caring about whether all students fulfill their responsibility to contribute to learning in the classroom is not a common approach in what Freire has called the "banking system of education" where students are regarded merely as passive consumers.


Page 93
My pedagogy has been shaped to respond to this reality. If I do not wish to see these students use the "authority of experience" as a means of asserting voice, I can circumvent this possible misuse of power by bringing to the classroom pedagogical strategies that affirm their presence, their right to speak, in multiple ways on diverse topics. This pedagogical strategy is rooted in the assumption that we all bring to the classroom experiential knowledge, that this knowledge can indeed enhance our learning experience. If experience is already invoked in the classroom as a way of knowing that coexists in a nonhierarchical way with other ways of knowing, then it lessens the possibility that it can be used to silence.


Page 94
And her use of a collective "we" implies a senseof a unified pedagogical practice shared by other professors. Inthe institutions where I have taught, the prevailing pedagogicalmodel is authoritarian, hierarchical in a coercive and oftendominating way, and certainly one where the voice of theprofessor is the "privileged" transmitter of knowledge. Usuallythese professors devalue including personal experience inclassroom discussion.


Page 158
They confessed, "You've taught us how to think critically, to challenge, and to confront, and you've encouraged us to have a voice. But how can we go to other classrooms? No one wants us to have a voice in those classrooms!" This is the tragedy of education that does not promote freedom. And repressive education practices are more acceptable at state institutions than at places like Oberlin or Yale. In the privileged liberal arts colleges, it is acceptable for professors to respect the "voice" of any student who wants to make a point. Many students in those institutions feel they are entitled-that their voices deserve to be heard. But students in public institutions, mostly from working-class backgrounds, come to college assuming that professors see them as having nothing of value to say, no valuablecontribution to make to a dialectical exchange of ideas.


Page 182
Critical feminist writings focused on issues of difference and voice have made important theoretical interventions, calling for a recognition of the primacy of voices that are often silenced, censored, or marginalized. This call for the acknowledgment and celebration of diverse voices, and consequently of diverse language and speech, necessarily disrupts the primacy of standard English. 


Page 188
Most students are not comfortable exercising this right-especially if it means they must give voice to thoughts, ideas, feelings that go against the grain, that are unpopular. This censoring process is only one way bourgeois values overcletermine social behavior in the classroom and undermine the democratic exchange of ideas. 


Page 204
Understanding that eros is a force that enhances our overall effort to be self-actualizing, that it can provide an epistemological grounding informing how we knovv what we know, enables both professors and students to use such energy in a classroom setting in ways that invigorate discussion and excite the critical imagination.


Page 204
Suggesting that this culture lacks a "vision or science of bygeology" (health and well-being) Keen asks: "vVhat forms of passion might make us whole? To what passions may we surrender with the assurance that we will expand rather than diminish the promise of our lives?" The quest for knowledge that enables us to unite theory and practice is one such passion. To the extent that professors bring this passion, which has to be fundamentally rooted in a love for ideas we are able to inspire, the classroom becomes a dynamic place where transformations in social relations are concretelv actualized and the [1lse eli-/chotomy between the world outside and the inside world of the academy disappears. In many ways this is frightening. Nothing about the way I was trained as a teacher really prepared me to witness my students transforming themselves.


Page 207
Teachers who love students and are loved by them are still "suspect" in the academy. Some of the suspicion is that the presence of feelings, of passions, may not allow for objective consideration of each student's merit. But this very notion is based on the false assumption that education is neutral, that there is some "even" emotional ground we stand on that enables us to treat everyone equally, dispassionately. In reality, special bonds between professors and students have alwavs existed, but traditionally thev have been exclusive rather than inclusive. To allow one's feeling of care and will to nurture particular individuals in the classroom-to expand and embrace everyone-goes against the notion of privatized passion. In student journals from yarious classes I h:cn-e taught there have always been complaints about the perceived special bonding between nwself and particular students.