Cultivating Critical Consciousness: A Philosophy of Teaching Composition and Literature

My approach to teaching English Composition and Literature is anchored in a belief that surpasses mere skill-building. My classroom is not a factory churning out proficient writers and readers, but a fertile ground where critical consciousness blooms. To paraphrase bell hooks, I strive to create a “pedagogy of hope,” where the tools of language and literature become instruments for emancipation, self-discovery, and social transformation.

“The classroom remains the most radical space of possibility in the academy”

― bell hooks, 
Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom

At the heart of this philosophy lies the profound conviction that both writing and reading are acts of agency. hooks reminds us that domination thrives on silence, and so, teaching students to wield language effectively equips them to challenge the status quo. Through purposeful writing assignments, I encourage students to interrogate their own assumptions, navigate complexities of power and identity, and find their unique voices. Whether crafting personal essays that unravel the tapestry of their lived experiences or analyzing literary texts that confront societal injustices, students become active participants in constructing meaning, not passive absorbers of preordained interpretations.

This emphasis on active engagement extends beyond written work. My classroom is a dynamic space where dialogue flourishes and where diverse perspectives are celebrated. hooks asserts that education should be the practice of freedom, and this freedom manifests in open discussions where students feel empowered to question, to dissent, and to engage in respectful argument. Through collaborative group projects and Socratic seminars, I cultivate a classroom culture where vulnerability and intellectual exchange lead to collective learning and growth.

However, this journey of critical consciousness cannot be confined solely within the walls of the classroom. Therefore, I strive to make connections between the texts we study and the lived realities of my students. Whether exploring themes of racial injustice in Toni Morrison’s novels or analyzing representations of gender disparity in contemporary poetry, we bridge the gap between literary imagination and social responsibility. We engage in critical reflection on how these themes resonate in our own lives and communities, prompting students to consider how their voices can contribute to positive change.

Ultimately, my philosophy of teaching rests on the belief that language is a powerful tool for social transformation. By nurturing students’ writing and reading skills, fostering critical inquiry, and challenging dominant narratives, I hope to empower them to become not just articulate communicators, but also agents of change. In the spirit of bell hooks’ message, I envision my classroom as a catalyst for personal liberation and social progress, where students emerge with the confidence and skills to write their own stories, speak their truths, and actively shape a more just and equitable world.