Thursday, May 29, 2008

You're hopelessly hopeless, I hope so for you

  • My post titles are pretty much just lyrics from whatever song I am listening to at the time, and we rarely make any sense. FYI
  • Freire posses an interesting dilemma. While, he makes and effort to rationalizing teaching for the liberation of the oppressed, he cautions against the use of “charity.” Would he, then, condemn organizations (like UNICEF, Red Cross, etc) which focus more on providing aid and relief to the oppressed and not providing them with the tools to foster their own liberation from their oppressed status? I feel he would not condemn their desire to make an effort, but just their actions to do so. To paraphrase Freire, food and money is important for the liberation of the oppressed, but it is not sufficient for liberation. Food and money may uplift and provide much needed materials, but does not give the oppressed the tools needed to provide for themselves and liberate their status as the oppressed. In other words, food and money provides much needed help in one arena, but fails to provide permanent or full liberation. The reason I feel this is an interesting dilemma is because of how it fits into critical literacy. Individuals without critical literacy skill view donations to various charities as enough or sufficient to resurrecting the oppressed to a higher status. However, the more critical literate (using teachings from the likes of Freire), view this as not sufficent. While it might warm the heart of those who donate, at the end of the day it does little to help the oppressed. It may help the oppressed for a day or to get through the week, but however sweet this respite is, it does not solve for the structural and institutional systems that oppress the oppressed in the first place. And if if donations do manage to create an uplift in some oppressed people, the manner in which this "liberation" occurred, only make the newly liberated into a new sub populous of the oppressor. According to Friere only will the true liberation occur if the oppressed gain knowledge about the structures which keep them oppressed and take action against these structures. Shannon writes of whole language theory as a grassroots movement by teachers. Is the whole language movement just another name for teaching for social justice? Whole language theory gives teachers the power to control the classroom, how is this power translated to the students in the classroom. While Shannon does not explicitly go in depth into the methods whole language theory (other than defining what it is), I feel there is ground for connecting this to Freire’s pedagogy of the oppressed. As teachers are empowered in their classroom, I feel this empowerment can be translated to students (much like in the case study in Larson and Marsh). However, it is up to the teacher to remain knowledgeable about the situation: just because the teacher takes control of the classroom does not mean the teacher is the sole power holder in the classroom. Power should also be posited to the students as well. Just how much power? I feel that depends on the philosophies and the practices of the individual teacher.

1 comment:

Lisabeth said...

I don't know that donations are a form of liberation, even if such items as food and money do 'lift spirits' - what do you think?

How does whole language theory give power to teachers in a classroom? In what ways?

You make a connection between whole language and social justice -are you thinking maybe of critical literacy, not whole language? Whole language is an approach to literacy which focuses on literacy within meaningful contexts... I can see a bit of a connection, but could you elaborate on this?

Some other class members have made connections between the similarities of theories we have discussed, maybe we should talk more about this as a class...

Thanks for your insight Matt!