Book Review for Do Your Lessons Love Your Students? Creative Education for Social Change

May 22, 2024

Book Review for Do Your Lessons Love Your Students? Creative Education for Social Change 

August 18, 2023

“Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.”
—James Baldwin

Abundantly erudite and engaging from cover to cover, Do Your Lessons Love Your Students? makes much headway in the field of education, to advocate a stance of love and transparency in curriculum design and delivery in current times. The implications of these art-centered strategies are poised to help our students, educators, and communities, anticipate, and analyze the contradictions of life, social phenomena, late-stage capitalism, and continue to assist in the turning tide for a liberating approach to education. Steeped in educational theory, years of experience in classroom settings, and a proven track record in professional development. Mariah Rankine Landers and Jessa Brie Moreno are showing us how to humanize the dehumanizing spaces of education and research.

The pathway they lay in front of us spirals around “transformative power, narrative, lineage, and embodiment.” Their book aims to build opportunities for students to build relationships with each other and their educators. Through a culturally and linguistically responsive approach they urge educators to go beyond oppression analysis to create pedagogies that lean toward self- actualization, using creative inquiry, healthy risk taking, and healing-informed work that centers artistic practice at its nexus.

I know these two humans well, and by no means should a book be able to transport the heart and experience of its author, but after years of working with and near them, I can say that they do an amazing job of leaving it all on the page for us. I think of the word, “data,” from the Latin word, “datum,” meaning, “the thing given; a gift.” The data of this book, gathered and tested over many years, is certainly a gift to other educators as we find new ways to understand what our students know, and that we also find opportunities to do that with them, alongside them, in a more horizontal structure. After reading, reacting, and reflecting on this book, a core assessment moving forward for us all will be “Do your students love your lessons?”

“And so it was I entered the broken world
To trace the visionary company of love”
—Hart Crane


Derek Fenner

Assistant Professor of Art Education

University of South Carolina