Teaching Toward Freedom: Moral Commitment and Ethical Action in the Classroom

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9780807032688: Teaching Toward Freedom: Moral Commitment and Ethical Action in the Classroom

For William Ayers, noted educator and activist, "the allure of teaching, that ineffable magic drawing me back to the classroom again and again, issues from an ideal that lies directly at its heart: Teaching, at its best, is an enterprise that helps human beings reach the full measure of their humanity."

In Teaching Toward Freedom, Ayers illuminates the hope as well as the conflict that characterize the entire project of education: how it can be used in authoritarian and dehumanizing ways in the service of the state, the church, or a restrictive existing social order-an idea he abhors-or, as he envisions it, as an undertaking to help students become more fully human, more engaged, more participatory, more free. Drawing on his own classroom experiences and those of his many colleagues, as well as on popular culture, film, poetry, and novels, Ayers redraws the lines concerning how we teach and why, and the surprising things we uncover when we allow students to become visible, vocal authors of their own texts and creators of their own lives.

"Committed and aware teachers," Ayers argues, "must endeavor to accomplish two crucial tasks. One is to convince students . . . that there is no such thing as receiving an education as a passive receptor or an inert vessel-in that direction lies nothing but subservience, indoctrination, and worse. All real education is and must always be self-education. The second task is to demonstrate to students . . . that they are valued, that their humanity is honored, and that their growth, enlightenment, and liberation are the paramount concern. We take the side of the student. . . ." This lucid and inspiring book will help teachers at every level to realize that ideal.

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About the Author:

William Ayers is Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is the founder of the Small Schools Workshop and the Center for Youth and Society, and he is the author of many books on education, including Teaching the Personal and Political, On the Side of the Child, To Teach, A Simple Justice, and A Kind and Just Parent.

From Booklist:

Ayers, an activist for progressive teaching methods, has written and coauthored numerous books on innovative schools and the societal issues faced by teachers. Here he calls on teachers to commit themselves to helping students reach "the full measure of their humanity," embrace their differences, and realize they have the power to change their own lives. Seminars on classroom management, discipline, and lesson planning completely ignore his method, what he calls "teaching toward freedom," and the teaching of ethical action, which requires dialogue between teachers and students as each learns from the other and from the world around them. Teachers need to be "works in progress," encouraging their students to be the same. Bolstering his argument with frequent quotes from authors as diverse as Langston Hughes, Toni Morrison, and Pablo Neruda, Ayers argues convincingly against centralized testing and zero-tolerance policies, which turn classrooms into "sterile and one-dimensional places devoid of teachable moments." Powerful, thought-provoking, and a must-read for everyone concerned with the state of education. Deborah Donovan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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