"Building a Teaching Community: A Dialogue" (2)
"The Burning of Paper Instead of Children" by Adrienne Rich

"Building a Teaching Community: A Dialogue" (3)

I appreciate bells hooks’ monumental mission to reconceptualize engaged pedagogy. I understand what she wants to do and how she plans to do it. I wonder, though, are these ideas practical? Her colleague Ron Scapp doubts it. As he writes, the institution will exhaust us simply because there is no sustained institutional support for liberatory pedagogical practices. Indeed, these ideas are revolutionary and comprehensive. Perhaps too revolutionary and comprehensive. We must also consider administrative bureaucracies, budgetary concerns, and union oversight.
  • It's hard to practice liberatory pedagogy when classes become too large.
  • Professors should be able to move from institution to institution. This would maintain excitement in a classroom, Lecturers do so, by necessity. They’re called Road Scholars. Would tenured professors buy into that?
  • She suggests that overcrowded classrooms could become spectacles.
  • Engaged professors must do two things at once. First, make students aware of the learning process. Second, teach the class. How important is it for students to share these assumptions about learning?
It’s a matter of sampling. Some ideas I can use immediately. Some I can incorporate into my classes. The best way to apply the content of Learning to Transgress? Take what you need.
That's how she conceived her mission to reconceptualize engaged pedagogy. As a user’s manual. A lot of what she proposes is at the institutional level; a level where buy-in would be a challenge.
What I would like to know if she ever thought to become entrepreneurial about her enterprise. Create - franchise - a peripatetic Engaged Pedagogical Academy. Just like Plato. It would solve several problems. Class size. Grades. Freedom to switch campuses. Assumptions students bring to their education. All this would enable an experience of openness, sharing, and breakthroughs. God knows I would attend.


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