Becky Thompson

AIRED: January 8, 2018– 11 am PST

SPECIAL GUEST: Becky Thompson

A lesson plan for bringing higher awareness to education

Imagine a classroom that explores the twinned ideas of embodied teaching and a pedagogy of tenderness. Becky Thompson envisions such a curriculum–and a way of being–that promises to bring about a sea change in education.

Teaching with Tenderness follows in the tradition of bell hooks’s Teaching to Transgress and Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, inviting us to draw upon contemplative practices (yoga, meditation, free writing, mindfulness, ritual) to keep our hearts open as we reckon with multiple injustices.

Teaching with tenderness makes room for emotion, offers a witness for experiences people have buried, welcomes silence, breath and movement, and sees justice as key to our survival. It allows us to rethink our relationship to grading, office hours, desks, and faculty meetings, sees paradox as a constant companion, moves us beyond binaries; and praises self and community care.

Tenderness examines contemporary challenges to teaching about race, gender, class, nationality, sexuality, religion, and other hierarchies. It examines the ethical, emotional, political, and spiritual challenges of teaching power-laden, charged issues and the consequences of shifting power relations in the classroom and in the community.

Attention to current contributions in the areas of contemplative practices, trauma theory, multiracial feminist pedagogy, and activism enable us to envision steps toward a pedagogy of liberation. Join us as Becky shares how her new book encourages tenderness, active engagement and makes room for self-reflective learning, teaching, and scholarship in a learning goes deeper than civility, helping us know that we belong to each other, and is essential to who we are as human beings.


Becky Thompson, PhD, is a scholar, human rights and antiracism activist, cross-cultural trainer, writer, poet and senior-level yoga teacher (RYT-500). She has lectured on race, gender and class issues around the world. Since 2015, Becky has served as a human rights advocate on the front lines of the refugee crisis in Greece, where she has assisted people seeking asylum, documented human rights violations, and taught writing workshops for refugees. Becky has contributed thought-leadership, scholarship and consultation to various groups interested in organizational transformation, yoga principles, contemplative practices, trauma, healing and social justice. She has led cross-cultural training courses that focus upon yoga, poetry, and feminist writing for global audiences.

Becky is the author of several books including Teaching with Tenderness, Survivors on the Yoga Mat: Stories for those Healing from Trauma and Zero is the Whole I Fall into at Night. Becky’s writing and activism has been recognized with honors from the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Association for University Women, the Ford Foundation, Political Research Associates, and the Gustavus Myers Award for Outstanding Books on Human Rights, and the Creative Justice Chapbook Press Poetry Prize. Becky’s current social justice projects include an anthology of poetry by and about refugees which she is co-editing with Palestinian poet and aid worker Jehan Bseiso.

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