bell hooks – Education as the Practice of Freedom

“To educate as the practice of freedom is a way of teaching that anyone can learn.” ~bell hooks, p. 13

I wanted to share an inspiring piece of literature from an amazing writer and educator, bell hooks.  Although this is for my class on Poststructuralism, bell hooks writes from the viewpoint that education is a practice of freedom.  She writes, “I have been most inspired by those teachers who have had the courage to transgress those boundaries that would confine each pupil to a rote, assembly-line approach to learning.  Such teachers approach students with the will and desire to respond to our unique beings, even if the situation does not allow for the full emergence of a relationship based on mutual recognition.  Yet the possibility of such recognition is always present” (p. 13).  Her point being that we as teachers are healers, engaged in educating students as active participants in their education, as “whole” beings made of “mind, body, and spirit” (p. 16) instead of just as intellectuals.

I bring up this point because at Warner, we talk about the practice of education as “agents of change” in service of social justice.  Yet, the definition of social justice is abstract and individualized.  On being human, on looking at students as human and as equals, doesn’t this change the way we position ourselves as educators?  When we “transgress our boundaries” and blur teacher with student, what does this look like in our classrooms?  Instead of distinctive roles, what happens when we become a community of mutual learners, co-constructing knowledge within a classroom culture that is safe and nurturing?  What gets produced, and how are we transformed?  How do we empower, and through this process, become empowered ourselves?  What does education as a practice of freedom look like?  How does it relate to social justice?

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About Yen

I've taught for over 9 years as a high school Biology/Physical Science/Life Science/Biotechnology instructor, and as a curriculum designer and teacher trainer and director for a small career college in Maryland. I am now starting the next leg of my journey into the PhD program in the hopes that one day, I will be able to support, train and assist my fellow colleagues in their own career and educational paths.

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