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January 2021

Rapture by Rupture: "Ecstasy: Teaching and Learning Without Limits"

At a summer arts program in Skowhegan, bell hooks reflected on her journey as a teacher. Her journey echoes and reinforces my own.

She talks about her teachers. Teachers who nurtured and guided her. Who taught her how to experience joy in learning. How to conceive of the classroom as a space for critical thinking to propel growth and change. A site where the exchange of information and ideas could lead to rapture. She paid these lessons forward. She mentions a conversation with a Skowhegan student. The student wanted to work with hooks for three reasons. Her classes weren't racist, sexist, or classist. I had teachers like this, from elementary to graduate school. I think of them each time I do class prep.

In this and other chapters, she notes that her journey was difficult. She describes it as taxing to the spirit. Challenges include institutional reluctance to address the banking system model of learning. The scourge of over-enrolled classes. The over-expenditure of empathetic energy. Students who don't her class. She cites her need to recharge, to get away from the classroom.

What drove her to continue? An abiding commitment to education as the practice of freedom. An engaged pedagogy that generates excitement in the classroom. A joy in the mutual engagement of thinking, writing and sharing of ideas. An enthusiastic Passion for teaching. The same Eros and Eroticism she discusses in the prior chapter. Freedom, excitement, joy, passion: that’s why I teach.

Was it worth it? Yes. She writes that she was often most joyous in the classroom. Time in the classroom, she writes, brought her closer (...) to the ecstatic than by most of life’s experiences. Me too. Much, much more satisfaction than from writing.

From my first post to this one, my thinking about theory has evolved. A lot. I didn't have a mentor, as she did. I didn't think of theory as a way to make sense of the world. At the time I didn't even think I needed to make sense of the world. My early posts? Intellectual juvenalia. Ignorance.

So too has my thinking about teaching evolved. Not so much my teaching itself; but my thinking about teaching. Now I’m aware of what I do. I agree with her about the inefficiency of evaluations. Since I began to teach my introduction to art class, I use what I call Course Takeaways. They tell me if I achieved my goals of showing that 1. Art is everywhere; 2. Art is accessible to everyone; and 3. There are no right or wrong answers in experiences of art. Each response follows from each student’s own unique life history. At the end of term, I ask students to answer a simple question. Has your relationship with art changed since the beginning of term? It’s a yes/no question meant to elicit feedback with which I could tweak my class. I tell students that it’s not mandatory; that it doesn’t take the place of PTEs.

When I began, I didn't expect much. A few sentences, if that. The quantity (a 225-page - and counting - document) and the quality of the responses, surprised me. The first one I received, years ago (I include it in the syllabus) was an eye-opener:

Throughout this course, my classmates and I have practiced “taking walks” with works of art that were presented to us. We walk with our eyes and try not to miss the tiny details. We want to gain a better understanding of what the artist is trying to communicate to us. Art can be seen as a form of communication from artist to viewer; it’s up to us to uncover the unspoken message. That being said, I think the present-day viewer can access the meaning to a centuries-old work of art by looking at it and using resources to gain a better understanding of it. I still believe our interpretation depends on our past experiences, range of knowledge, and values. Also, that the true meaning of a work of art comes from the artist himself/herself.

I couldn't have said it better myself.

I have worked through Teaching to Transgress. I now have the means with which to describe and even appreciate what I am doing. I now realize that I was critically engaging with students. That I wasn’t working with a class of 120 students but instead with 120 individuals. That my teaching changed lives beyond the classroom, in a way that had nothing to do with their degree. That I did have a passionate commitment to teaching. I hesitate to describe my classroom performances as erotic or my deeds as acts of love. Still, I teach with enthusiasm and empathy. Is there room for improvement? Of course. Now I have the tools with which to work.

None of this would have occurred to me if I hadn’t read Teaching to Transgress. None. hooks bemoans how pedagogy is not seen as central to our intellectual and academic work. I now agree. Now I understand why I was so eager to take this class.

"Ecstasy: Teaching and Learning Without Limits"

"My models were the people who stepped outside of the conventional mind and who could actually stop my mind and completely open it up and free it, even for a moment, from a conventional, habitual way of looking at things...If you are really preparing for groundlessness, preparing for the reality of human existence, you are living on the razor's edge, and you must become used to the fact that things shift and change. Things are not certain and they do not last and you do not know what is going to happen. My teachers have always pushed me over the cliff ...", Pema Chodron, Tricycle, a journal of Buddhist thought

"The academy is not paradise. But learning is a place where paradise can be created. The classroom, with all its limitations, remains a location of possibility. 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 race reality even as we collectively imagine ways to move beyond boundaries, to transgress. This is education as the practice of freedom". bell hooks, Ecstasy: Teaching and Learning Without Limits, Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom

Love in the Time of Title IX: "Eros, Eroticism, and the Pedagogical Process"

In prior posts, I discussed the stagecraft of bell hooks’ Engaged Pedagogy. The way a professor leaves the podium. Moves around the classroom. Engages students on a physical as well as an intellectual level. This takes the professor off her throne. It shows she’s not a dictator intent on domination but a fellow voyager who shares the learning process. Eros, Eroticism, and the Pedagogical Process takes this enhanced engagement one step further. It took time to come to terms with her argument. But I did.
As she’s written before, a professor is a mind with ideas as well as a body with presence, not to mention functions. She used to wonder, for instance, what teachers did when they had to go to the bathroom in the middle of class. This consideration of the professor’s body extends to other things, as well. To being erotically drawn to students, for instance. And vice versa. This is where things get complicated. hooks wrote Teaching to Transgress in 1994. Long before Tarana Burke began the Me Too Movement. On a regular basis we take online sexual misconduct classes. With that in mind, How a class would respond if, without any context, I asked:
Why do you feel that the regard I extend to a particular student cannot also extend to each of you? Why do you think there is not enough love or care to go around?
And how would I explain myself to campus administration?
That’s why definitions are key here. hooks provides a solution the mind/body split that plagues pedagogy. We should be whole and wholehearted in and out of the classroom. This corresponds to one of Critical Pedagogy’s aims. Professors and students can transform their consciousness to better know themselves. Fair enough.
There are problems, though, with the use of words like eros and eroticism. They could send a mixed message to young, impressionable and vulnerable students. hooks cites Diane Middlebrook who writes that we should not deny eros and the erotic. She herself writes that we should use erotic energy to enhance classroom discussion. She adds, with good reason: Teachers who love students and are loved by them are still suspect in the academy.
Without context, this word choice could lead to a slippery slope. Words like love, passion, eros, and eroticism are suspect in the academy. Students might construe them as less innocent than otherwise intended. She does provide clarification. She defines love as feeling to care and will to nurture. She suggests that eros motivates one to think differently about gender. That passion is rooted in a love of ideas.
In a prior post, I wrote how hooks describes Engaged Pedagogy as a coming to voice. She uses Eros and Eroticism as the means by which students are touched by knowledge. Coming to voice by being touched by knowledge. That’s an eloquent way to describe Engaged Critical Pedagogy.
This reevaluation of one’s self in relation to one’s students is a healthy process. To me, the benefits of self-actualization now are obvious, once I’ve worked through them. She writes how the philosophy of education for critical consciousness empowers her. At the same time, she admits that she still had problems putting theory into practice. So do/did I. Revolutionary though her ideas might be, they are nothing more than common sense. Problem is, common sense tends to be at a premium…
hooks concludes the chapter by writing: To restore passion to the classroom or to excite it in classrooms where it has never been, professors must find again the place of eros within ourselves and together allow the mind and body to feel and know desire. Passion, eros, and desire? Are these inflammatory words? Not if we use them in a different context. Use them as a means by which to live with authenticity and spontaneity in relation to the world. To teach and be willing to be taught means to give, to share, and to nurture with enthusiasm and with love.

Engaged Pedagogy as a Polyphonic Chorus: "Confronting Class in the Classroom"

I liked this chapter because it gave me words to express bell hooks’ pedagogical endgame. She embraces the democratic ideal of education for everyone. But it’s the solution - Coming to voice - that resonates with me. It encompasses everything she proposes, in this chapter and throughout the book.

She notes that class, not race or culture, determines values, standpoints, and interests. In particular, middle class norms shape and reinforce the pedagogical process. The effects are grim. Underprivileged students surrender identity benchmarks that make them them. One benchmark is their vernacular language. Why? They don't want to be called interlopers. She calls this an either/or predicament. Deny class origins or fail, in all aspects of the word. Karl Anderson calls this the most oppressive aspect of middle-class life. That is a profound and chilling statement.

Professors reinforce the schism. They may challenge racial bias and domination ideologies with their material. But they fail to reinforce these outcomes in their classrooms’ dynamics. She suggests a reason for professors’ reluctance. They fear that disruption of their traditional way of doing things implies a loss of control. As this book has shown, the problem, on many levels, is with preservation of and loss of control.

At a more pervasive level, she discusses the structure of academic settings. How they perpetuate class hierarchy. With vigor and clarity, she diagnoses this bleak situation. She also prescribes thoughtful solutions. She advocates for safe, non-judgmental critical thinking spaces. Here, everyone’s voice can be heard. Issues of class can be addressed. To address means to listen. Hearing what other people have to say creates a communal learning environment. This environment provides a way to cross borders. Crossing borders encourages students to become active agents in the pedagogical process. It enables them to move beyond the zero-sum game of Capitalism. The destination? A physical and mental space where they can embrace wholeness.

Create a safe space. Listen without judgement. Acknowledge all backgrounds irrespective of class, race, and culture. Embrace wholeness. Cultivate awareness. Encourage and celebrate voyages through and beyond background noise. Jane Ellen Wilson notes how we can voice our concerns as part of a larger song. hooks’ adds that this is a place where we can come to voice. Engaged pedagogy as a polyphonic chorus. Nice.

... "where my and our voices, can stand clear of the background noise and voice our concerns as part of a larger song"

"Only by coming to terms with my own past, my own background, and seeing that in the context of the world at large, have I begun to find my true voice and to understand that, since it is my own voice, that no pre-cut niche exists for it; that part of the work to be done is making a place, with others, where my and our voices, can stand clear of the background noise and voice our concerns as part of a larger song". Jane Ellen Wilson, Balancing Class Locations, Strangers in Paradise

The Flip Side of Something Lost in Translation: "Language: Teaching New Worlds/New Words"

hooks wrote this essay inspired by Adrienne Rich’s poem, The Burning of Paper Instead of Children. Rich describes her frustration with language that can’t describe oppression. It broaches a discussion on the imperialist nature of Standard English.
This is a powerful and poetic rumination. It shows how Standard English dominated the lives of displaced black people. Dominate. Shame. Humiliate. Colonize. Slaughter. Conquest. These are the words hooks uses to describe the experience of chattel slaves. These slaves lost their freedom as well as their means by which to communicate with one another. If you’ve never considered this before, imagine being being sold, you, your family, your friends. Imagine someone takes you to a place that doesn’t speak your language. Imagine that you have to learn a new language. Not in classes but in response to threats at work, with the highest stakes imaginable. I can’t. Would you view that imposed language as a language of oppression? I would.
It would never occur to me to resist at the level of language. But that’s what these chattel slaves did. They created a black vernacular, a counter-language that mangled vocabulary and syntax. This language (spoke) beyond the boundaries of conquest and domination. It created a site of resistance. Resistance? Yes, because white slave owners couldn’t understand it. These chattel slaves may have lost their African language. But they gained the ability to communicate in plain sight of their oppressors.
hooks connects this black vernacular with rap music. Both were popular if not appreciated. Both got white people to listen if not respond and, in the process, become transformed.
She considers the reluctance of academic journals to publish pieces in black vernacular. In a prior post, I wondered if she had ever considered creating her own Academy. I now wonder if she had ever considered publishing her own journal. Granted, it would be a niche journal. It would would feature academic pieces written in black vernacular. I'd read it.
In the classroom, she asks non-native speakers to first write in their native tongue. Then to translate the result. The flip side of something lost in translation. Her purpose? So students didn't feel estranged by a dominant Standard English.
She elaborates. Here my skepticism accrues. She describe the effect of listening without mastery. How it creates a momentary silence, a space to learn. She proposes that students may only need to understand fragments of master narratives. This requires a leap of faith. Faith in my ability to pull it off and faith in my students’ ability to digest it.
I appreciate her criticism of Standard English used in the Academy. How it offers no intimate space for non-native speakers. I appreciate her characterization of black vernacular as ruptured, broken, and unruly. What happens, though, in my classroom? How do I weigh these poetic, spot-on observations against my classes’ specific requirements? These observations may enchant me. But I am nonetheless not a little stymied at their practical application.

"The Burning of Paper Instead of Children" by Adrienne Rich

I was in danger of verbalizing my 
moral impulses out of existence.
--Daniel Berrigan, on trial in Baltimore

1. My neighbor, a scientist and art-collector, telephones me in a state of violent emotion. He tells me that my son and his, aged eleven and twelve, have on the last day of school burned a mathematics textbook in the backyard. He has forbidden my son to come to his house for a week, and has forbidden his own son to leave the house during that time. 

"The burning of a book," he says, "arouses terrible sensations in me, memories of Hitler; there are few things that upset me so much as the idea of burning a book."

Back there: the library, walled
with green Britannicas
Looking again
in Durer's Complete Works
for MELANCOLIA, the baffled woman

the crocodiles in Herodotus
the Book of the Dead
the Trial of Jeanne d'Arc, so blue
I think, It is her color

and they take the book away
because I dream of her too often

love and fear in a house
knowledge of the oppressor
I know it hurts to burn

2. To imagine a time of silence
or few words
a time of chemistry and music

the hollows above your buttocks
traced by my hand
or, hair is like flesh, you said

an age of long silence


from this tongue        this slab of limestone
or reinforced concrete
fanatics and traders
dumped on this coast wildgreen clayred
that breathed once
in signals of smoke
sweep of the wind

knowledge of the oppressor
this is the oppressor's language

yet I need it to talk to you

3. People suffer highly in poverty and it takes dignity and intelligence to overcome this suffering. Some of the suffering are: a child did not had dinner last night: a child steal because he did not have money to buy it: to hear a mother say she do not have money to buy food for her children and to see a child without cloth it will make tears in your eyes.

(the fracture of order
the repair of speech
to overcome this suffering)

4. We lie under the sheet
after making love, speaking
of loneliness
relieved in a book
relived in a book
so on that page
the clot and fissure
of it appears
words of a man
in pain
a naked word
entering the clot
a hand grasping
through bars:


What happens between us
has happened for centuries
we know it from literature

still it happens

sexual jealousy
outflung hand
beating bed

dryness of mouth
after panting

there are books that describe all this
and they are useless

You walk into the woods behind a house
there in that country
you find a temple
built eighteen hundred years ago
you enter without knowing
what it is you enter

so it is with us

no one knows what may happen
though the books tell everything

burn the texts         said Artaud

5. I am composing on the typewriter late at night, thinking of today. How well we all spoke. A language is a map of our failures. Frederick Douglass wrote an English purer than Milton's. People suffer highly in poverty. There are methods but we do not use them. Joan, who could not read, spoke some peasant form of French. Some of the suffering are: it is hard to tell the truth; this is America; I cannot touch you now. In America we have only the present tense. I am in danger. You are in danger. The burning of a book arouses no sensation in me. I know it hurts to burn. There are flames of napalm in Catonsville, Maryland. I know it hurts to burn. The typewriter is overheated, my mouth is burning. I cannot touch you and this is the oppressor's language. 

"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.

"Building a Teaching Community: A Dialogue" (2)

I suggested in a prior post that we could compare liberatory pedagogy to theatre. The comparison becomes more clear in this chapter.
  • Professors can cross the boundaries that divide them from their students with dialogue. Dialogue drives theatre.
  • Professors don't want to makes themselves vulnerable to their students. And vice versa. It's called stage fright.
  • Students note the professor's body as she walks around the classroom. Doing so, professors show they’re not omnipotent and all-knowing. This movement erases traditional power structures in the classroom. Theatre calls this blocking. It calls the embodiment of posture, tone, and word choice performance.
  • One way to challenge the un-interestingness of a subject is to forego a lesson plan’s set agenda. Read the mood of the class, and ask, What I do with it. Reading the mood of a class; I can’t imagine a better example of improvisation.
  • An actor is in the present. So is an engaged teacher. An actor knows that no one audience will never be the same. So does an engaged teacher. Both recognize that their audience is dynamic. Fluid. And always changing. A fine description of a professor: one who engages fully, deeply, with the act of teaching.

"Building a Teaching Community: A Dialogue" (1)

bell hooks structures this chapter as a discussion with her colleague Ron Scapp. This structure creates a critical space. (I had wondered what that meant.) This forum enables the free and frank exchange of ideas.
Her reconceptualization of engaged pedagogy resonates with me.
  • Cultural studies must combine theory and practice. Check.
  • We must consider all points of view. All permutations of race and gender. Check.
  • She identifies herself as a writer first, then as a teacher. Thus, she came to teaching with no pedagogical shibboleths. Me, too. Check.
  • These engaged pedagogical strategies benefit herself as much as they benefit her students. Check.
  • You can’t pay lip service to liberatory pedagogy (Talk the talk) without enacting it (Walk the walk). Check.
  • Decenter the teacher’s voice; encourage her to listen. Check.
  • Give students freedom in the classroom. This way, teachers and students can work together. This. Does. Not. Lead. To. Chaos. Check.
  • Acknowledge those precious moments when a student changes your way of thinking. Check.
  • Realize that this type of learning process is difficult (and painful; and troubling). That it takes time. Check.
  • Realize that learning is hard work but it’s also joyful. Check
  • Appreciate how sharing in the classroom elicits emotions. These emotions lead to therapeutic breakthroughs. Check.
  • Maintain high standards but de-emphasize the role of grades. Check.
  • Promote active participation in students. Check.
  • Recognize that being a teacher means to be with people. Check.
  • Understand that professors need to be aware of their presence in the classroom. Acknowledge what brought them to that point. Check.
  • Teachers must be aware of what they say and how they say it. Check
  • Appreciate the importance of sharing personal narratives that link knowledge with academic information. Check
  • Affirm the value of student voices. Check
  • Realize that what what happens in a classroom is the formation of a learning community. (As with this class!) Check.
But there are issues that we need to address. A lot of what hooks writes she calls experiments.
  • Are classrooms the proper place to conduct experiments?
  • The reconfigured classroom won't resemble their familiar banking system of learning. How to address that?
  • She calls it a tragedy that professors at repressive public institutions (CSUDH?) assume that students see themselves as having nothing valuable to offer. Really?
  • Students may fear the professor who acts like a passenger and not a captain in the classroom. Really?

"All border crossings must be seen as valid and legitimate"

"When I began this collection of essays, I was particularly interested in challenging the assumption that there could be no points of connection and camaraderie between white male scholars (often seen, rightly or wrongly, as representing the embodiment of power and privilege of oppressive hierarchy) and marginalized groups (women of all races or ethnicities, and men of color". bell hooks, "Building a Teaching Community: A Dialogue", from Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained: "Feminist Scholarship: Black Scholars"

bells hooks writes that she embraced critical theory to help her make sense of her life. When she began to research feminist scholarship, though, she found a gap. Female feminist scholars described the experience of being a woman. They would reverse engineer the architecture of their lived reality. This showed them how gender differences were socially constructed. The problem is, hooks noted, white women detailed their white experiences. She found no feminist scholarship that described the distinct experiences of black women. She wondered, am I black first or am I woman first? (Until I heard this song, I used to wonder about such uses of indefinite articles.)

She addressed the oversight. Focusing her efforts against what she calls the universalization of “Women”, she wrote Ain’t I a Woman? Her goal? Create a critical space for black female academics.

We can find such a space in Feminist Scholarship: Black Scholars. In it, she looks at black experience from a feminist viewpoint. She calls out certain black and white female academics. They appropriate gender issues without refracting them through a feminist lens. Not doing so invalidates otherwise good work. Thinking about gender, she writes, doesn’t make one a feminist.

As an undergrad, I studied how the French, American, and Russian Revolutions affected art. They were survey courses. We would spend a week or two, sometimes half a term, on each period. The classes simplified the dynamics of each era. Because I didn't know better, I assumed revolutions were that black and white.

In graduate school, I realized how such survey courses skewed my approach to art. I found, scoured through, and evaluated source material. I learned that societal upheavals feature many pieces. They start and stop, moving in all directions at the same time. I learned what really went on with art during those periods. Upheavals, with their reevaluations of values, are not a simple matter.

I appreciate hooks’ work in this chapter. She takes the revolution known as Feminism, finds what’s lacking, and works to make it whole. She moves from the personal - her experience - to the general - the experience of all women. I have bought into her thought process. I have yet to see, though, how I can apply such thinking to my introduction to art courses. An introductory lecture that turns dreary, anodyne textbooks on their head? Discussions that show why these textbooks need to be turned on their heads? Seeing how it would benefit each student - not to mention myself - it’s a challenge to which I look forward.

Battles Worth Waging: "Feminist Thinking: In the Classroom Right Now"

In this chapter, bell hooks addresses challenges that feminists face. Once overcome, the benefits would be legion. Women would become more empowered, more aware. They would (grow) in their feminist consciousness. The benefits extend to men, as well. She writes about a black male student in her African American literature class. He experienced an awakening when he learned about gender and feminist standpoints.
But there will be downsides. This process of feminist politicization requires new ways of seeing, talking, and thinking. Conflicts will ensue. She calls conflict a catalyst that can lead to new thinking and growth. To clarify her argument, she makes a distinction between the feminist classroom and a Women's Studies Course.
Among the issues she addresses: the accusation that feminism is a private cult. The perception that the feminist classroom is a site of conflict. That feminist thinking might change how women relate to fathers, lovers, and friends. That women might be isolated and attacked. These are formidable accusations.
These challenges are necessary, though. Ending sexism and racism will not happen overnight. Turning theory into praxis. Turning praxis into buy-in, execution, and evaluation. Dealing with both social and personal struggles. It will take time. It will take perseverance. It will take commitment. She says that the transformation of consciousness is the first stage of the process. If women can march past this first stage, they will hold the key to liberation.
My first step is awareness of issues that frame the discussion. This awareness will inform how I teach, structure, and manage future classes. When I teach a class of 120 students, I teach them as 120 individuals, not a block of 120 students. That’s not enough. I need to become more granular in the way I conceive and execute assignments, discussions, and assessments. My goals are not as lofty as hooks’ goals. As a teacher, though, they are no less important.

Breaking Bread with bell hooks: Holding My Sister's Hand

Holding My Sister's Hand is a relatable chapter. In it, hooks discusses how black and white women share a complicated relationship. The relationship between servant and mistress of the house. The relationship began with jealousy, rivalry, and sexual competition (black women, white men). It's effects continue to this day. Fear informs this friction. Black women fear betrayal if they acknowledge otherwise friendly overtures by white women. White women fear exposure if they make such overtures. The solution? hooks proposes two. Both involve the breaking of bread. Feminist psychoanalysis can examine these feelings of fear. A a safe space fosters a discussion of white female racism and black female response. This productive space allows women to engage in critical dialogue, critical dissent. A space where they can let go of the hurt. A listening space to encourage meaningful bonding.
I like how hooks works through the issue as she writes. This gives us insight into how she identifies problems, how she proposes solutions. The identifications are universal. The solutions are provisional, as they should be. Often she prefaces them with perhaps and maybe. She does this so we apply what we learn in Teaching to Transgress to our individual cases.
She understands the enormity of the task: to get everyone on the same page. She understands the historical dimension of the issues and their contemporary relevance. She understands that it will take a lot of work. She understands that it can't begin without the airing out of grievances. Only then can healing begin. I agree.
This chapter gave me insight into her use of several words. Disrupt, challenge, transgress, and critical dissent. In my second excursion through the book, I've tried to come to terms with these words. I wondered if they suited our particular purposes. Now I see they do. They refer to nothing more than a frank and sincere exchange of ideas. It suggests that the best way to change society is to begin with a meaningful connection. In a contentious society, engagement in a meaningful connection is a radical act.