Guilt-Free Book Club

Each semester, the CTL chooses a book for our Guilt-Free Book Club. The Book Club is Guilt-Free in that participants are encouraged to attend, even if they haven’t done the reading or have missed prior meetings.

Spring 2022

Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope (2003) by bell hooks.  In Teaching Community, bell hooks writes “about struggles to end racism and white supremacy, [and how] the pervasiveness of racism in society — the worship of whiteness — devalues us all.”  She further exhorts us to remember that “teaching can happen anywhere, any time — not just in college classrooms but also in churches, in bookstores, in homes, and any other place people get together to share ideas. Teaching Community encourages us all to embrace the values that motivate progressive social change — spirit, struggle, service, love, the ideals of shared knowledge and shared learning.” (excerpted from the back cover of Teaching Community)

The book club will meet every other Wednesday at noon, beginning January 26th. More information and an RSVP is at:

Fall 2021 — Ungrading

Edited by Susan Blum

“The moment is right for critical reflection on what has been assumed to be a core part of schooling. In Ungrading, fifteen educators write about their diverse experiences going gradeless. Some contributors are new to the practice and some have been engaging in it for decades. Some are in humanities and social sciences, some in STEM fields. Some are in higher education, but some are the K–12 pioneers who led the way. Based on rigorous and replicated research, this is the first book to show why and how faculty who wish to focus on learning, rather than sorting or judging, might proceed. It includes honest reflection on what makes ungrading challenging, and testimonials about what makes it transformative.” (from the publisher’s description)

The Guilt-Free Book Club will meet twice a month on Tuesdays, beginning September 7th, from 12 – 1 PM.  Participants may join in person or on zoom (or a mix of both) and need not have read the chapters to participate in the conversation! RSVP here to learn more:

Spring 2021 — Stop Talking: Indigenous Ways of Teaching and Learning

by Ilarion Merculieff and Libby Roderick

In Stop Talking, Merculieff and Roderick provide both a broad overview of the central aims and goals of “indigenizing education” and a set of specific, focused strategies that instructors can implement in their own teaching. The book serves as a thoughtful introduction to decolonizing pedagogies, placing a good deal of emphasis on practice even as it provides a strong theoretical framework. It’s an ideal read for anyone interested in supporting indigenous studies, students, and pedagogies but just isn’t quite sure where to start.

The CTL envisions this book as the first in a two-semester series, the second of which explores even further the theoretical foundations of indigenous studies. So, while the book club continues to be guilt-free in every way (participants don’t need to have read to attend, and are welcome to join in at any time), we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out the advantages of sticking with the readings throughout the semester. For one thing, since each chapter of Stop Talking details a set of specific indigenous pedagogies, by the end of the book we’ll have gained a wide range of practicable skills to help us begin the process of decolonizing our own classrooms. In addition, since the book presents an excellent overview of different theoretical aspects of indigenous epistemology, upon its completion we’ll be incredibly well equipped to take on next semester’s book club offering!

The book club will meet every other week for 14 weeks beginning the first week in February. Meetings will be Mondays from noon – 1 PM and Thursdays from 4:30 – 5:30 PM.  Participants are invited to attend either meeting, depending on their availability that week. And, again, the book club strives to be guilt-free in every way.

Please sign up at this link to indicate your interest, see the full schedule of meetings, and receive a link to the book.  We will send reminders for each meeting to those who RSVP.

Fall 2020: Radical Hope

Kevin Gannon (aka The Tattooed Professor) offers this insightful look at the ways critical pedagogy can inform some of the most pressing challenges in higher education today. “Harsh budget cuts, the precarious nature of employment in college teaching, and political hostility to the entire enterprise of education have made for an increasingly fraught landscape. Radical Hope is an ambitious response to this state of affairs, at once political and practical—the work of an activist, teacher, and public intellectual grappling with some of the most pressing topics at the intersection of higher education and social justice.” (From the publisher’s introduction)

This fall, GFBC will be entirely online with everyone meeting together every other Wednesday beginning Wednesday, September 2nd at noon. (Remaining dates will be September 16 & 30; October 14 & 28; and November 11.) The book is available as an ebook through The Claremont Colleges Library at We are sorry we cannot provide hard copies of this book to our participants this fall.

This book club strives to be guilt-free in every way. You don’t need to have read to attend, and you are welcomed join in at any time — arriving late, leaving early, or missing a week is perfectly OK! If you would like to join us, please RSVP at: 

Spring 2020: Geeky Pedagogy

Geeky Pedagogy Book CoverGeeky Pedagogy is “the first college teaching guide that encourages faculty to embrace their inner nerd.” This warm, funny book offers all teachers (even non-nerds) evidence-based, effective practices for impactful teaching and learning and invites us to be more aware, compassionate, and reflective in our classroom practice.  Plus, there are Star Trek references.  You won’t want to miss it!

Fall 2019: Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone

Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone Cover

The Claremont Colleges Center for Teaching and Learning has selected “Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone: Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education” by Thomas J. Tobin and Kirsten T. Behling for the next semester of our Guilt-Free Book Club.  The club is guilt-free in that all are encouraged to attend even if they haven’t done the reading for week or have missed prior meetings.

In the book Tobin and Behling show that, although it is often associated with students with disabilities, UDL can be profitably broadened toward a larger ease-of-use and general diversity framework. Captioned instructional videos, for example, benefit learners with hearing impairments but also the student who worries about waking young children at night or those studying on a noisy team bus. It includes resources for readers who want to become UDL experts and advocates: real-world case studies, active-learning techniques, UDL coaching skills, micro- and macro-level UDL-adoption guidance, and use-them-now resources.

Spring 2019: Creating Wicked Students

Creating Wicked Students Cover

We selected “Creating Wicked Students: Designing Courses for a Complex World” by Paul Hanstedt for the next semester of our Guilt-Free Book Club. This book argues argues that courses can and should be designed to present students with what are known as “wicked problems” because the skills of dealing with such knotty problems are what will best prepare them for life after college. Hanstedt centers the book on the ideat that the goal in the college classroom―in all classrooms, all the time―is to develop students who are not just loaded with content, but capable of using that content in thoughtful, deliberate ways to make the world a better place.

Electronic copies of the book are available through the Claremont Colleges Library:

Fall 2018: The Spark of Learning

The Spark of Learning Book Cover

We read “The Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotion” by Sarah Rose Cavanagh. This book argues that to capture student attention, bolster retention, and boost motivation, we need to consider the emotional impact of how we teach. She brings evidence from education, psychology, and neuroscience, as well as many practical examples of classroom activities from many disciplines.

The Spark of Learning is available online through the Claremont College Library:

Spring 2018: Pedagogy of Freedom

Pedagogy of Freedom cover

Pedagogy of Freedom cover

We read “Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics, Democracy, and Civic Courage” by Paulo Freire. Freire, most famous for Pedagogy of the Oppressed, here offers a meditation on the ethical obligations of educators. He emphasizes recognizing student autonomy, critically reflecting on our practice, and believing in the power of education to truly liberate both students and ourselves.

Pedagogy of freedom is available online through the Claremont Colleges Library:

Fall 2017: Small Teaching

Small Teaching by James Lang book cover

Small Teaching by James Lang book cover

We read “Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning by James M. Lang.

Research into how we learn has opened the door for utilizing cognitive theory to facilitate better student learning. In Small TeachingJames Lang presents a strategy for improving student learning with a series of modest but powerful changes that make a big difference—many of which can be put into practice in a single class period. These strategies are designed to bridge the chasm between primary research and the classroom environment in a way that can be implemented by any faculty in any discipline, and even integrated into pre-existing teaching techniques. Each chapter introduces a basic concept in cognitive theory, explains when and how it should be employed, and provides concrete examples of how the intervention has been or could be used in a variety of disciplines.

Small Teaching is available online through the Claremont Colleges Library:

Spring 2017: Teaching to Transgress

cover of

Teaching to Transgress Book Cover

We read “Teaching to Transgress” by bell hooks.

In Teaching to Transgressbell hooks re-envisions teaching as an emancipatory act in which we enable students to transgress against racial, sexual, and class boundaries.  Though she wrote this book in 1994, hooks speaks to critical needs and questions in education today:  How do we deal with racism, sexism, and other -isms in the classroom?  What should teaching look like in a pluralistic society?

Teaching to Transgress is available online through the Claremont Colleges Library: