To, With

Hello, my friends.

I’ve missed you all. Your presence, your perspectives, creativity and conversation. Re-starting this project has been a long time coming, lots of false starts and procrastination. And though I know you are all incredibly busy, I am hoping that perhaps we can use this space (2 years out) as a way to revitalize the spirit of our discussions in some small, manageable way.

I wonder how you are all processing and preparing for the coming…changes to our political and social landscape. I’ve been sort of on-and-off reading this fascinating book, “We Make The Road By Walking It,” by Paulo Freire and Myles Horton. It’s a ‘talking’ text – an extended conversation between the two authors while Freire was visiting Horton at Highlander, the latter’s school in northeast Tennessee.

Right now, I’m most struck by the sections in which the two discuss the responsibility of educators, not just as teachers of skill and content, but as models of civic participation, activism, and critique. Says Freire:

While having on one hand to respect the expectations and choices of the students, the educator also has the duty of not being neutral, as you said. The educator as an intellectual has to intervene. S/he cannot be a mere facilitator. S/he has to affirm to himself or herself. I think that this issue is more or less like the problem of practice and its theory. Do you say that it involves also the question of the authority of the teacher, the freedom of students, the choice of the teacher, the choice of the student, the role the teacher has to teach, the role the teacher has to answer questions, to ask questions, to choose the problems? Sometimes the teacher has the role of leading or the role of speaking, but the teacher has the duty to come from speaking to into speaking with, for example. (P. 180, pronoun edits mine).

I’ll forego my own analysis for yours. What are you, what will you be affirming at the dawn of this new and bizarre era?

What choices are you making, and what questions are you asking?

What questions are your students asking, what problems are they choosing- and how will you respond?

Much love, and a full pdf of the text here.