Summer vacation is almost over and school is almost back in session. As someone who works in Higher Education, we are frantically preparing for students to return to campus and start a new academic semester. Each year, I look at different academic books, articles, and pedagogies that may help me become more of a liberation-focused educator. While working within an institution built for those who hold privilege in our country, we must fight against our socialization about what education is and what it is not. Below, I have recommended four books I think will help any educator at any level in the education system become an educator focused on the liberation of knowledge, teachers, and students.
“Leaders who do not act dialogically, but insist on imposing their decisions, do not organize the people–they manipulate them. They do not liberate, nor are they liberated: they oppress.”
Pedagogy of the Oppressed fundamentally shifted how I think about and approach education. From education in the classroom, to leadership, Freire covers it all. The most impactful and meaningful chapter for me in this book is when Freire challenges the traditional banking method of education. In this method, the teacher’s knowledge and experiences are valued above the experiences and the knowledge of the students. As the educator, I tell the student what to know and how to know. Freire wants to shift this power dynamic to honor the entire learning community, giving voice and value to those we do not traditionally value. Until we shift our thinking about how we educate and how we lead and teach, we cannot liberate or be liberated.
“To build community requires vigilant awareness of the work we must continually do to undermine all the socialization that leads us to behave in ways that perpetuate domination.”
bell hooks believes that education goes beyond the classroom, that the struggle to end racism and White supremacy is about community. This book is non-traiditonal in my opinion as it does not outline a clear pedagogy. But I think hooks gets to the heart of creating learning communities within and outside of the classroom using undervalued concepts such as love, shared knowledge, shared learning, service, spirituality, relationships, trust, and care. With seeing education becoming more transactional and more business-like these days, Teaching Community provides me with an alternative when approaching students and engaging them in learning.
Sentipensante (Sensing/Thinking) Pedagogy: Educating for Wholeness, Social Justice, and Liberation by Laura I. Rendón
“My core question guiding my inquiry was: What is the experience of creating a teaching and learning dream based on wholeness and consonance, respecting the harmonious rhythm between the outer experience of intellectualism and rational analysis and the inner dimension of insight, emotion, and awareness?”
Rendón’s Sentipensante Pedagogy is all about sensing and thinking and the connection between them. She provides a holistic view of education, educating for academics and educating for life. The pedagogy argues that our current educational system fights against wholeness and against liberation. In her writings and stories, Rendón is a master at connection, often finding the relationship we do not see or we have lost in our traditional form of education. This book gives me hope in the education field.
Multicultural Competence in Student Affairs by Raechele L. Pope, Amy L. Reynolds, and John A. Mueller
“The increasing complex cultural dynamics on college and university campuses across the country are making the work of student affairs professionals more challenging than ever…These complicated and difficult issues necessitate a new collection of knowledge and skills. In addition, innovative approaches are needed to address the individual needs of a diverse student body…”
This book is mainly written for those folks in student affairs/development/services in higher education (aka me :)). But I think the contents of this book can be applied on any level. Pope, Reynolds, and Mueller provide an easily digestible (with examples) framework to increase one’s multicultural competencies. The authors lay out their framework in awareness, knowledge, and skills and provides tangible ways to apply the theory. With so many theories being hard to translate into practice, I am always happy to see practical ones. With that being said, I utilize this book pretty much every week in my current role, working on my own competencies or framing activities in this theory in order to help others work on their competencies.