Bell Hooks: Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom

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In her book Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom, Bell Hooks depicts the classroom as a source of constraint on one hand but, also as a source of liberation on the other (hand). She points out that teachers’ use of power and control makes students lose interest in a subject or topic and she also goes on to recommend that universities encourage students and teachers to transgress, and seek ways to use collaboration to make learning more relaxing and exciting. Most of Bell Hooks’ teachers were black women who she feels had a specific mission.

They were ommitted to their jobs, preparing their pupils to become scholars and or thinkers; she refers to them as ‘‘black folks who used our minds’’ and they were primarily her motivation to become a teacher and a writer. Bell Hooks transferred to an integrated school that was the complete opposite of her first school and while there she was confronted with an institution of all-white teachers who she judged were not interested in transforming the minds of their pupils but simply transferring irrelevant bodies of knowledge. She writes that the knowledge they were supposed to soak up bore no elation to how they lived or behaved.

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‘’Bussed to white schools we soon learned that obedience, and not zealous will to learn, was what was expected of us’’. Too much eagerness to learn was regarded as something that could easily be seen as a threat to white Authority. Concerning Bell Hooks’ idea of education being a practice of freedom I agree with her but before I get carried away there’s a simple question I’d like to ask the reader; what does she mean by this statement? I believe that by saying that education should be a practice of freedom Bell Hooks means that t should more interaction and no programming. I will use a particular movie from 2004 as an example. ‘’I,Robot ‘’ was the name of the movie and you may or may not be familiar with it but that isn’t necessary as I’ll only be using it as an example and not an area of study. In this movie set sometime in the far future robots were used all over the place; helping old ladies walk the street, walking dogs, working in factories, etc, etc.

These robots were doing this because it was their default setting. It was all they were made or programmed to do. They didn’t even think to ask why they were doing it and at he slightest hint of rebellion they [the robots] would be ‘’unplugged’’ or reset. Things seemed clear but behind the scenes a master robot had already planned some sort of coup. Education should be interactive. Say in the class a teacher says ‘’ Four times four equals sixteen’’ the student should be allowed to question this be it right or wrong. ‘’Why is it sixteen? ’’, How do you know it’s sixteen? , ’’ Do you have proof? ’’. The teacher should be able to gain some knowledge from the students just as the students gain knowledge from him or her.

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Bell Hooks: Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. (2016, Dec 18). Retrieved from

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