Musings Pedagogy

Teaching to Transgress

— a homage to bell hooks

Teaching matters as it helps to expand minds, imagination and empathy. We learn about other perspectives to enrich our own and expand our worlds. Teaching to transgress shows the power in listening to students’ voices, truths and their lives. Teaching matters because it gives the power to be heard and have someone bear witness. Teaching matters because teachers nurture the potential of every student for who they are and believe in what they can be. Teaching matters because you are in a position of authority. Acknowledge this power and use it to fight for change. Show your students that you’re prepared to make the risks you ask of them. Teaching to question encourages creativity, risk and imagination for you and your students. This nurtures the ability to identify the absences in what we are taught and expose power and privilege. Teaching matters because it can oppress, stifle and limit voices if the ‘right’ answer is always the focus. But teaching can transform, give permission and show an expansive view of the world. Teaching matters as education is a right for everyone that can help to create a better future.

Teaching nurtures hope, curiosity and self-belief:
To expand questions about the world and who speaks.
Transgress silences by encouraging students to use their voice.
‘Education is never politically neutral’
As it perpetuates power:
The idea that all marginalised voices matter shouldn’t be radical.
Practice speaking out about what’s missing: look at protests
Of tumbling statues to demand change and hope for the future.
Freedom from structural inequalities and silences. Teaching matters.


First performed for the finale of ‘Debates in Education’ at the IOE on 31st June 2020.



Hold all your questions with gentleness.
Don’t be afraid.
Allow the words to dance from your tongue.
Hear them.
Hear the questions.
Trust what comes from within and
Listen to yourself.

‘But how will I know if I’m asking the right questions?’
I hear you cry.
Remove that thought.
There is no single question:
Only sounds of all that have come before.
What words tumble from your mind?
What happens when you listen?

Rustling, bubbling, twittering and swirling,
Competing sounds, words and questions.
Take your time. Pause.
Just listen.
What happens again and again and again?
Listen and you will find an answer:
Can you hear it?

Listen to the wind.
Never captured but always in motion
Dancing with abundance.
Allow your words to leap, twist and turn.
Allow your questions to play and take risks.
There is no ‘true’ answer
But an answer can guide you.

Listen to the voices from the ancient paths
Listen to the words tumbling from within
Listen gently
Listen hard
Always listen to



He says I’m “difficult”
because I say what I want,
because I don’t ask his permission.

He says I’m a “bulldog”
because I do what I want,
because I don’t ask his permission.

He says I’m a “child”
because I want my own space,
because I don’t ask his permission.

I am difficult
because I say what I want,
and I don’t ask his permission.

I am a bulldog
because I do what I want,
and I don’t want his permission.

I am a child
because I want my own space,
and I don’t need his permission.

I am powerful.
because I believe in myself
and I give myself permission.

First published on Medium titled ‘I Am.’