A reasonable response to that, however, is that seeing worthwhile intellectual work as only being about linear progression in the direction of the never-said-before, never-heard-before favours a relationship to knowledge that evaluates it primarily in relation to other texts rather than in relation to lives, and misunderstands how we actually relate in practice to hard critical insights about the world. Once you’ve read a couple of good ones, the amount of truly new insight you’ll find is subsequent good ones that you read will be incremental rather than exponential.Yet in writing, as in practices of critical pedagogy, reading a piece of wisdom once does not mean that immediately and automatically informs our embodied practices forever after. That’s how enacting critical politics at the level of the everyday works.
Some of the major themes are touched upon in the book, including the issues teacher-student relationship, teaching feminism, the philosophy of Paulo Freire.
The key premise of the book is that we need to liberate the students’ minds from all types of oppression levied upon it: There are a lot of videos and podcasts of bell hooks, including those she delivered in New School in New York.
For all aspiring intellectuals, thoughts are the laboratory where one goes to pose questions and find answers..
The heartbeat of critical thinking is the longing to know — to understand how life works.
Her prose is very clear and she deploys it in a way that constructs an inviting vision of what that calls all to take part and build that vision.
It’s easy for me as someone with white and masculine privilege who at the level of explicit propositions identifies with that vision to momentarily lose sight of what I’m sure she never does: our respective places in relation to why that vision isn’t and to how it might be differs profoundly.She is radical in her commitment and in her courage not to conform, to be different, to be engaging, to engage and bring change.Influenced by the famous Brazilian educator and philosopher Paulo Freire, she makes her case very clear: The academy is not paradise.Instead, there’s a continual cycle, a continual relearning, reapplying, remaking in new situations, as well as frequent forgetting and going back to first principles. And with writing, I quite enjoy periodically reading a new, good book about it, and using that as a way to push myself to think about things again but with a fresh mind, with a new slant, a new twist.And that, I think, is the value of this book – its meditations both illustrate hooks’ own experience of that cycle of reengagement and reflection and, with both their inviting vision and their staunch challenges, are inspiration and guidance for readers to do the same.My major satisfaction comes from the consciousness that I have the opportunity and hopefully the capacity to touch someone’s life early on to an extent that would allow transformation, personal and professional, mostly via showing the new ways of looking and thinking about reality, about the mundane, about the obvious.Rendering the mundane exotic is perhaps key in education.In that field of possibility 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. My acquaintance with bell hooks comes from the book titled “Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom” published 20 years ago in 1994.This is treatise of how to teach in an engaged manner, with connection to students’ minds as well as spirits.One of the major things that makes my life meaningful at this particular moment is teaching and the chance to pass some knowledge and ways of thinking to my students.It is not self-esteem which I am gaining here, although I recognize that teaching is a mildly narcissistic activity which may inflate already oversize egos.