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Love and Growth: On One Aspect of James Baldwin’s Significance for Education


by Jeff Frank — 2015

Background/Context: Although James Baldwin’s work is beginning to receive attention by political and social theorists, his work does not currently influence educational conversations. I believe this is unfortunate, and the goal of this article is to make the case that Baldwin’s work has a great deal to teach educators, especially teacher educators.

Research Design: Reading through all of Baldwin’s nonfiction, I draw out interconnected themes that run across his work, and which I found most interesting as I thought about my work as a teacher educator. These themes are: innocence, fear, and love. For each theme, I draw on different aspects of Baldwin’s published nonfiction, attempting to create a conversation between aspects of Baldwin’s work and issues of importance to teacher educators.

Conclusions/Recommendations: I conclude by making the case that Baldwin’s work deserves a wider hearing, especially his thinking on love. I develop the concept of “tenacious understanding” to highlight the types of teaching that teacher educators will need to engage in if they are to realize Baldwin’s prophetic call that I resound in this article.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 117 Number 9, 2015, p. 1-38
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 18050, Date Accessed: 5/27/2017 5:22:29 PM

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About the Author
  • Jeff Frank
    St. Lawrence University
    E-mail Author
    JEFF FRANK is a teacher educator at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York. His most recent work, “Mitigating Against Epistemic Injustice in Educational Research,” appeared in Educational Researcher. His research interest is American philosophies of education, particularly the African American tradition.
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