bell hooks on student-teacher tensions for transformative pedagogy

Reflecting on the challenges in creating transformative, liberatory & progressive classrooms.

“Just as it may be difficult for professors to shift their paradigms, it is equally difficult for students. I have always believed that students should enjoy learning. Yet I found that there was much more tension in the diverse classroom setting where the philosophy of teaching is rooted in critical pedagogy and (in my case) in feminist critical pedagogy. The presence of tension – and at times even conflict – often meant that my students did not enjoy my classes or love me, their professor, as I secretly wanted them to do. Teaching in a traditional discipline from the perspective of critical pedagogy means that I often encounter students who make complaints like ‘I thought this was supposed to be an English class, why are we talking so much about feminism?’… In the transformed classroom there is often a much greater need to explain philosophy, strategy, intent than in the “norm” setting… I learned to respect that shifting paradigms or sharing knowledge in new ways challenges; it takes time for students to experience that challenge as positive.”

– bell hooks, teaching to transgress (41-42)

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