Right from the beginning, Hooks indicates that she wants to address a critical issue in the education sector. She starts by describing the way she joined the teaching profession and then proceeds to identify the challenges in the profession. Although she does not identify the members of her audience directly, it is clear that the members of her audience are her fellow teachers. In order to appeal to and engage these members of the audience, Hooks uses different rhetorical modes. This essay evaluates some of the rhetorical modes that Hooks uses to appeal to and engage her audiences.
To start with, it is clear right from the beginning that Hooks uses narration to appeal to her audiences. She gives a chronological account of what happened to her before and after she became a teacher. She starts by outlining her experiences as she joined the teaching profession. She then proceeds to outline the way the learning process was at the time she was a student. She claims that “Almost all our teachers at Booker T. Washington were black women” (Hooks 2). She also states that “Attending school then was sheer joy” (Hooks 3). After narrating the way school life was, she narrates her experience at graduate school. She claims that “in graduate school . . . I wanted to become a critical thinker yet that longing was often seen as a threat to authority” (Hooks 5). By narrating her personal story, Hooks tries to engage her audiences emotionally so that she can win them. She illustrates the challenges in the education profession and the need to make teaching exciting. She believes that by narrating her story she can win the members of her audience easily. Besides giving a chronological account of what happened to her since she started her journey of becoming a teacher, she narrates her experiences with the teaching process. She claims that “When I entered my first undergraduate classroom to teach . . . I longed passionately to teach differently” (Hooks 7). However, she discovered that the teaching environment was not ready for her new teaching strategies. By narrating her personal story as a first-time teacher, she wants the members of her audience to be moved by her personal experiences. She wants them to believe that the teaching environment needs to be transformed.
With regard to appeal to authority, Hooks makes reference to Paulo Freire to demonstrate that learning can be used to liberate students rather than weaken them. She claims that “when I first discovered the work of . . . I found a mentor and a guide; someone who understood that learning could be liberatory” (Hooks 6). She uses Paulo Freire’s pedagogy as an illustration that education can be used to empower students rather than intimidate them as was happening in her first graduate class. She claims that Freire’s pedagogy helped her to develop the blueprint of her pedagogical practice. By doing this, she appeals to her audience to embrace her new pedagogical practice by demonstrating that it is not far-fetched, but it is from an expert.
Hooks further compares and contrasts different pedagogical practices. She claims that “the idea that learning should be exciting, sometimes even fun . . . but there seemed to be no interest among either traditional or radical educators . . . in higher education”. Hooks uses this rhetorical mode to demonstrate the inefficiencies in the two pedagogical practices. She claims that neither of the two methods promotes excitement in learning. Hooks uses this strategy to demonstrate the extent to which her new pedagogical practices go in promoting excitement in learning. Hooks also compare and contrast her learning experiences at Booker T. Washington School with her learning experiences at the graduate school. For the Booker T Washington School Hooks claims that “Attending school then was sheer joy. I loved being a student” (Hooks 3). However, for graduate school, she claims that “In graduate school, I found that I was often bored in classes. The banking system of education . . . did not interest me” (Hooks 5). She compares the two to show the importance of excitement in the teaching profession.
Hooks also uses description to appeal to her audiences. She uses this rhetorical mode at the beginning of her book. She starts by saying, “in the weeks before the English department at Oberlin College . . . I was afraid that I would be trapped in the academy forever” (Hooks 1). The entire paragraph describes what happened to her before she was granted the tenure to become a teacher at Oberlin College. She describes the kind of dreams that haunted her. She also describes the challenges she faced immediately after she was granted tenure. Hooks uses this rhetorical mode to momentarily suspend her main topic. She literally consumes a lot of time trying to describe what transpired before she joined the teaching profession. She even goes ahead to state that she did not think that she would be a teacher. By doing this, she creates suspense to the extent that the members of her audience would want to know what happened next.
Basically, it is clear that Hooks uses a number of rhetorical modes to appeal to and engage her audiences. She uses narration to emphasize important details of her book. On the other hand, she uses description to suspend important aspects of her topic so that she can create interest in her audience. At the same time, she compares and contrasts different aspects to clarify her points.
Hooks, Bell. Teaching to transgress: Education as the practice of freedom. New York: Routledge, 2014. Print.