“The classroom, with all its limitations, remains a location of possibility.” (bell hooks, 1994)
By Martha McAlister
For the faculty book club this fall, we just finished reading “Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom” by bells hooks. She passed away last year, sparking us to revisit her seminal work. Though this book was written in 1994, it’s amazing (and a bit shocking and sad) how relevant her message still is today. We’ve come a long way, but still have far to go to embody her vision of the classroom as a place to see and be seen; a place for relationship, passion, hard work and challenging traditional approaches to pedagogy.
hooks talks a lot about creating classroom spaces for engaged pedagogy, where both teachers and students share responsibility and are encouraged to take risks. An engaged class is dynamic, fluid and never the same twice. It means being truly open to new and different perspectives. “Confronting one another across differences means that we must change ideas about how we learn; rather than fearing conflict we must find ways to use it as a catalyst for new thinking, for growth” (p. 113) Learning can be difficult when we face up to our assumptions and question the status quo.
We all agreed that this book is a classic and should be considered essential reading for all educators. If you’re interested, it’s available in our library. hooks ends by saying the classroom is a
“field of possibility, where we have the opportunity to labor for freedom, to demand of ourselves and our comrades an openness of mind and heart that allows us to face reality even as we collectively imagine ways to move beyond boundaries, to transgress” (p. 207).
PD Chair, Camosun College Faculty Association
Martha taught in Health and Human Services for 10 years before becoming an Educational Developer within the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. Though new to the CCFA executive, she is busy getting up to speed with this wise group! Martha is dedicated to serving our membership by supporting faculty to meet their educational goals through accessing PD funds.
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