Cover image for Teaching toward freedom : moral commitment and ethical action in the classroom
Teaching toward freedom : moral commitment and ethical action in the classroom
Ayers, William, 1944-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston, Mass. : Beacon Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xv, 168 pages ; 22 cm
Between heaven and earth : what is teaching for? -- Turning toward the student : who in the world am I? -- Building a republic of many voices : where is my place in the world? -- Lifting the weight of the world : what are my choices? -- Teaching toward freedom.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
LB1775.2 .A94 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



The education expert presents an ethics for teachers of all levels, arguing that teachers are ultimately working toward a vision of social justice and should therefore incorporate this reality into their work.

Author Notes

William Ayers is Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

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 2004 Booklist

Library Journal Review

"What am I teaching for? And what am I teaching against?" These are the fundamental questions that Ayers (education, Univ. of Illinois, Chicago) explores in this collection of essays on the moral dimension of teaching, originally delivered as a series of lectures during the author's fall 2003 stint as a visiting scholar at Lesley University. Throughout, Ayers returns to his commitment to education as activism and to the importance of teachers standing "on the side of the student." Drawing, as in earlier works, on his experience in the Civil Rights Movement and the antiwar movement of the 1960s, Ayers deftly melds his own experiences as a teacher with those of like-minded colleagues, as well as with evocative lessons about education and humanity drawn from the work of authors including Pablo Neruda, Malcolm X, and Myles Horton. Likely to be as popular as the author's earlier To Teach: The Journey of a Teacher, this collection is recommended for any academic library. Scott Walter, Univ. of Kansas Libs., Lawrence (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This timely book challenges educators to restore their hopes and aims for what it means to teach. Ayers (Univ. of Illinois) explores the challenges that ethical teachers face when they make the moral commitment to become advocates for their students and teach for humanity, defined as a humanity that leads to growth and freedom of thought, of being, of imagination. Bringing in poetry and literature to frame the argument that education in a democracy requires teachers to be both activists and advocates for and with their students, the volume provides multifaceted angles for teachers to question and reflect on their philosophies, their actions, and their ethics in the classroom. The author argues that teaching for freedom is to cultivate enlightenment and humanity; for the value of all students to learn in a caring environment; to create a polyphonic dialogue where many views are encouraged and accepted; and for teachers and students to strive toward a critical consciousness of awareness of the world around them. The challenge Ayers poses to educators is to reclaim their moral commitment and reframe their ethical action in the classroom. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. R. M. Romano Ohio University