Liberation of Education

Most of the education that we know of today is not education as “the practice of freedom.” According to Bell Hooks, educating as a “practice of freedom” is a form of teaching and consequent learning that is engaging and exciting for both teachers and students alike. In this “practice of freedom,” both parties are equal “players in contributing and sharing in the learning experience. Students are not just taught information that they are expected to commit to memory and recall when asked; rather they learn to think critically in a non-conformist, unconfined way. Teachers who educate as a “practice of freedom” teach “not merely to share information but to share in the intellectual and spiritual growth of students” (13).

When students are taught in this “liberatory” manner, the lessons they learn carry over into their lives outside of the classroom as well. Hooks recalls that in her younger years, before racial integration, her teachers made it their goal and “worked with and for us to ensure that we would fulfill our intellectual destiny…” (2). To do so, the teachers made personal connections to their pupils by getting to know each of them and their families. During that time, Hooks describes school as the place where she was able to “reinvent” herself without having to “conform to someone else’s image (3).

After racial integration, education became about knowledge of facts alone. The information that one learned had no bearing on how lived and behaved (3). This mode of education is similar to what Nick Sousanis portrayed in Unflattening. When students are not actively involved, and schooling just becomes memorization of information, life can become lose meaning and uniqueness. In order to learn properly, students must be interested and involved in what they are learning. When students are engaged and participate in the learning process, they apply what they learn to their lives.

Hooks’ vision of education is most certainly correct. We are born with an insatiable thirst to constantly learn and grow, to be changed by ideas. We are born curious and we are excited when we discover new things and concepts. Somehow, somewhere in grade school learning becomes boring, uncool and unexciting. If we start our lives with a natural love of learning and a pleasurable endeavor and somewhere in the course of our youths lose this drive, something must be wrong with the way we are educating. As Hooks writes, educators must view it as their personal mission to keep this natural inclination alive and to nurture and help students grow with it.

One issue with Hooks’ ideology of how teaching should be, is that it may not be very practical. Educating in this manner requires that both students and educators be involved and engaged in the process. As Hooks herself writes, very often this “give-and-take” is not present in the classroom and therefore hampers this kind of educational experience.


Some Questions:

  • Hooks writes that a crisis in eduation is that “students often do not want to learn and teachers do not want to teach.” Why is tha? Has it always been this way for the majority of students?

2) How can “transgressing” the educational boundaries become less scary? What will make students more open to this method?


Works Cited

Hooks, Bell. Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. New York: Routledge, 1994. Print.

Sousanis, Nick. Unflattening. Harvard UP, 2015. Print.



2 thoughts on “Liberation of Education”

  1. I’m in disagreement with Hooks’ Statement that “students often do not want to learn and teachers do not want to teach.” Education has been always present. It is enough to stand outside of any school to see the huge amount of students that attend to school every day. Perhaps talking about elementary education is not a good example because it is mandatory, but, colleges are bombarded with request for admissions every year. This is because students are seeking to learn. If students weren’t interested to learn, at this time colleges would be closed, or there were just a few colleges open due to low demand. The reality is completely the opposite. In relation to teachers, if teachers didn’t want to teach, they have the freedom to choose another career and do what they really want to do, but the reality is that teachers remain on the education field and it is because many of them love with passion their job.

  2. I believe that so many students and teachers do not want to get too engaged in education because of that give and take that Hooks mentioned. When both sides lack trust for one another, there is a drop off in engagement. I can not speak on how it has always been for students, but I know that during my generation in school, students for the most part weren’t thrilled to be in school everyday. This is not only due to an unwillingness to learn, getting educated is a hard commitment, and humans tend to have trouble committing to hard tasks. So regardless of being hard, I believe that if students make it to school everyday, that shows decent engagement, whether they want to be there, or their parents force them to, etc…. I believe teacher-student engagement will maximize when schools stress that education is more of an individual process, and not just an oven where everybody gets baked into the same cookie. When schools remind students that they can do whatever they want with their education, college, other endeavors, whatever they can dream of. A school’s goal should be to expand a student’s mind and that’s it, not to get them into a good college, get them a high-paying job, make them famous, none of that.

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