And this is such a lovely book about things Ive been thinking a lot about for quite some time. One of the main things that student teachers worry about is whether or not they are going to be able to maintain discipline in a classroom and, if they are, is that going to be at the cost of becoming a prison guard? Smarter students tend to pretend that this stuff just comes to them naturally, no effort involved at all. This presents a problem to the teacher, as one of the things, surely, a teacher really wants to do is impart a love of learning, but the smart kids are pretending learning involves no effort and the less smart kids are beating up anyone who looks like they are trying too hard. We dont want kids to leave school just knowing how to count and read, but also how to be worthwhile citizens that are properly engaged in a democratic society. One year I got her to come to my high school (while I was still a student) and show a film and talk about why nuclear disarmament mattered. There is a lovely bit in this where she mentions a white woman rushing in tears from the classroom while black students were talking about having their arses kicked by their mothers. Hooks didnt rush out after her because she decided that society generally expects black people to be overly concerned with the feelings of white people and therefore there was much to be learned in just continuing on regardless. Not shagging your students, she certainly doesnt mean that, but we try to pretend that we leave our erotic selves at the door when we enter the classroom whereas what might really be needed is to engage with that kind of passion as yet another means help our students to access the joy of text, as they say. I really do wish I could believe that would be all it would take to resolve matters and obviously, the Maori were hardly tree hugging hippies, but rather a war-like people long before white people turned up, but like I said, I really do think that although such a thing is not enough it does seem to be a nice bit along the road to mutual understanding. That is why Thatcher said there was no such thing as society and people on the right tend to get so worked up about a very particular kind of freedom. I read a part of an article in The Guardian recently that said that men who help around the house doing the kinds of jobs that are socially constructed as female (cleaning the bathroom, cooking, vacuuming) are much less likely to get sex than men who do male type jobs. But I think hooks is onto something important here we really do need to make equality erotic and I guess this is a large part of what she means about bringing eros into the classroom. She is a delightful person to read and says the most interesting things in the simplest way possible.
I get two weeks a year to prepare black kids who have been habitually under taught and nearly always over-graded (my wording for grade inflation and "empty A's") in their high school English classes to understand what it takes to truly write well at a collegiate level, hold their own in a college classroom and to speak up when they don't understand something - all this while steeling their psyche to endure being questioned as to whether or not they "earned" their place on campus (which is typically done by people whose parents have paid their way into damn near all of their opportunities).
Working as a high school teacher in 2011, though, I am often burdened with self-doubt and feelings of failure all of the time. Not only did hooks validate the powerful structures that I have set in place in my classroom (I realize I've been too hard on myself, as usual), but she also nudges me along to think in even more radical ways. She reminds me that community, trust, and love are transformative energies that change the classroom; reading this book has given me pause to rethink why I am an English teacher and why I work with young people. hooks empowers me to attempt to realize her healthy, safe, joyful, progressive vision of education in the high school classroom.
This collection of short pedagogical essays truly demonstrate the practical wisdom the title claims.
bell hooks writing in this book makes me feel pretty darn inspired. as a person who has a hard time being in school because sometimes i cant figure out how i'm connected to the world outside my program, i felt relieved by this book.
Imagine what it is like to be taught by teachers who do believe that they are racially superior, and who feel that they should not have to lower themselves by teaching students whom they really believe are incapable of learning. p.20 I like to engage the minds and hearts of students by doing simple writing exercises, sentence completions. Hence, engaged pedagogy makes the classroom a place where wholeness is welcomed and students can be honest, even radically open. p.27 My primary intent as a teacher is to create an open learning community where students are able to learn how to be critical thinkers able to understand and respond to the material we are studying together. p.35 I did not understand at the beginning of my teaching career that the majority of students would arrive in the classroom colonized in their minds and imaginations. p.55 Academic classrooms were fundamentally changed by contemporary feminist movements insistence that the personal is political, that experience is to be valued as much as factual information, and that there is indeed a place in the learning process for telling ones personal story. p.60 We live in a world where small children are encouraged to imagine, to draw, paint pictures, create imaginary friends, new identities, go wherever the mind takes them. p.62 No matter the subject I am teaching, I always use the writing and reading of spontaneously written paragraphs to stir our collective imagination in the classroom. When we are free to let our minds roam it is far more likely that our imaginations will provide the creative energy that will lead us to new thought and more engaging ways of knowing. p.106 Certainly in the study of literature many feminist scholars find it difficult to explain to students our conviction that it is important that they read works by authors who may be racist, sexist, engaged in class elitism, or homophobic.
There was a lot of racial justice in this one, but I preferred a book that speaks directly about critical thinking rather than racial injustice. Educators who value imagination have little problem affirming creativity and dynamism. Imagination points us beyond routine and static possibilities. But more than throwing us toward such possibilities, imagination synthesizes.
It is love that allows us to survive whole.......to love ourselves no matter our circumstances is already to stand in the place of victory." p.
But this doesn't feel like a "bell hooks 101" level book.