‘Thank You, bell hooks': What She Meant to Teachers

By Education Week Staff — December 16, 2021 1 min read
bell hooks speaking
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

bell hooks, the Black feminist author and intellectual whose books transformed ways of thinking about education and racism, died Dec. 15. She was 69.

hooks’ more than 30 volumes covered a wide range of topics, including theories of classroom pedagogy, an interrogation of the racism within modern feminism, explorations of Black masculinity, and the nature of love. Her oeuvre also spanned multiple formats, including poetry, memoir, and essays.

In K-12 education, she is particularly remembered for a trifecta of books on teaching and learning, beginning with 1994’s Teaching to Transgress. The book critiqued how education systems typically value authoritarianism and compliance. Engaging teaching, she wrote, liberated students by equipping them with the tools to challenge and transcend those structures.

Unlike many contemporary theorists, though, hooks’ writing was generous, accessible, and deeply felt, rather than ponderous, remote, or circular.

Her death brought an outpouring of grief, gratitude, and testimonials from many educators, particularly Black women teachers and writers who saw a mentor, a guide, an ally, and above all, someone who loved them unconditionally.

Five educators reflect on how bell hooks’ timeless wisdom has transformed their teaching.

bell hooks has shaped a generation of teachers, and her legacy will continue not only through her writings but in those she inspired. Three of her essays are now free on JSTOR for those looking to read more of her work.

Related Tags:

Education Week Library Staff contributed to this article.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Recruitment & Retention Webinar
Be the Change: Strategies to Make Year-Round Hiring Happen
Learn how to leverage actionable insights to diversify your recruiting efforts and successfully deploy a year-round recruiting plan.
Content provided by Frontline
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Critical Ways Leaders Can Build a Culture of Belonging and Achievement
Explore innovative practices for using technology to build an environment of belonging and achievement for all staff and students.
Content provided by DreamBox Learning
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Professional Development Webinar
Strategies for Improving Student Outcomes with Teacher-Student Relationships
Explore strategies for strengthening teacher-student relationships and hear how districts are putting these methods into practice to support positive student outcomes.
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Opinion New Book Offers Tried-and-True Advice on Classroom Practice
American education has a thing for shiny “innovations," but sometimes sensible, effective advice of experienced teachers is what is best.
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Teaching Opinion From Reading Instruction to Teacher Leadership: 1,000 Educators Share Their Advice
For more than a decade, Larry Ferlazzo has been curating intelligence from colleagues and K-12 experts. Read what they have to say.
1 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
Teaching Opinion The Danger With Giving Students Feedback
Feedback works best when it's just one step in a learning process, writes Alfie Kohn.
Alfie Kohn
5 min read
Illustration of teacher and students walking away from a spotlight shinning on an empty school desk and chair
J.R. Bee for Education Week
Teaching Opinion Collaborate With Your Colleagues. You'll Prosper and So Will Your Students
Teachers can learn a lot from their peers and all the other staff members in their school.
4 min read
A team of people work together to build a block structure.
Imam Fathoni/iStock<br/>