Writing and Identity

Writing and Identity

We had two important readings to consider together last night.  Paulo Freire’s seminal Pedagogy of the Oppressed dovetailed perfectly with Lisa Delpit’s The Silenced Dialogue.  Dana and Fatima did an excellent job of presenting the material and drawing out the important reflections from both works.  The common theme here was the question of liberation and the role that language and writing instruction plays in the development of the self.

The Pedagogy of the Oppressed

“The oppressed, instead of striving for liberation, tend themselves to become oppressors.”

Thanks to Dana’s selection of this material, we have had the chance to consider education as a practice of freedom versus education as a practice of domination.  Paulo Freire is one of the most important critical educators of the twentieth century.  He is considered one of the founders of critical pedagogy, and he envisions an approach to education that aims to transform oppressive structures by engaging people who have been marginalized and dehumanized and drawing on what they already know.  “Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.”  Dana presented this material with a comprehensive understanding and a discerning analysis, prompting us to make connections with our own current political realities.  How can we imagine a pathway to freedom when confronted with the profound complicity of an educational system that perpetuates the oppressive elements of society itself?  Freire believes that part of the purpose of education is to help children develop the ability “to ask good questions.” Teachers are at the frontlines of this struggle to open up a critical eye to the world, guiding new generations to think in complex and dynamic ways in response to a world foreclosed.  It is through this ability to think critically that education can help guide us in our journey towards liberation and freedom.

The Silenced Dialogue

After our collective consideration of Freire, we aptly turned to Lisa Delpit’s The Silenced Dialogue to think about what is happening to non-white and poor students in our own national context.  Fatima presented the major strands of Delpit’s argument, highlighting an invisible  “culture of power” and the importance of gaining certain cultural capital.  As a specialist in teaching and learning in multicultural settings, Delpit seeks to provide opportunities for minorities and poor communities to articulate and effect change in the United States’ educational system.  She is also concerned with creating connections and building bridges between teachers of differing cultural backgrounds, between educators and culturally diverse children and their parents, and across the multi-cultural communities that make up our society.   In reading Delpit’s work, we come to see that everyday interactions are loaded with assumptions made by educators and mainstream society.  But by developing code-switching literacies and refining specific cultural translation skills, we might start to forge a pathway for certain children to grow and thrive as they continue to navigate a world designed to leave them behind.  I think Fatima selected an excellent case study video to exemplify the work that needs to be done:

What is next?

The final theme for us to consider is Multiliteracies & Writing and we will have two presenters-

Patricia has selected:

Tutoring ESL Students:  Issues & Options by Muriel Harris and Tony Silva

Linda will focus on rubrics, and she has selected:

Using Rubrics to Develop and Apply Grading Criteria by John Bean

Your “to-do” list:

  1. Read the above selections from both Patricia & Linda.
  2. Post your Blog #10 which should be a reflection on Multiliteracies & Writing stemming from the above readings.
  3. As a follow-up from last week regarding your early thoughts on your final group project, please free-write for 20 minutes in response to the following prompts: -What learning outcomes matter the most to you?  -How can you make this project impactful in a way that is truly meaningful to you? 

Patricia and Linda will wrap up the presentations for the seminar with a synthesis of their selected material.  This will be our grand finale for the seminar “discussion lead/presentation” cycle!  
In the later half of class, we will proceed with a think-pair-share exercise designed to get you thinking/deliberating about the possibility of a shared purpose for your final group project.

See you next week!  Have a great week and weekend…

Dr. Zamora


Writing & Identity

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

I’m going to be completely honest, I was lost where reading this article. I read it about three times and I’m still a little lost. I’m going to try really hard to summarize both chapters. If I misunderstood anything (which I know I probably did) I apologize ahead of time.

In chapter one of Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire he explores the justification of oppression which resulted in the mutual process of the “oppressor” and the “oppressed”. Freire goes into colonization and the impact that has brought to oppression and the constant fear of freedom,

Freedom is acquired by conquest, not by gift. It must be pursued constantly and responsibly. Freedom is not an ideal located outside of man; nor is it an idea which becomes myth. It is rather the indispensable condition for the quest for human completion” (pg 4).

In the second chapter, Freire explains this metaphor of the ‘banking’ approach in the education system and how students account are left empty until the teacher deposit into them. He’s not for the ‘banking’ approach and states how it dehumanizes the students. He also argues how the banking approach stimulates oppressive attitudes that are now practiced in society. He believes that education should be given equally despite your location.

The Silenced Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other People’s Children

Lisa Delpit writes a powerful article about how teaching students of other cultural and ethnic backgrounds is extremely important. This article reminded so much of the course I’m taking now, Racial Theory and Ethnic Identity. During the semester we have been introduced to Asian, Latino, Native American, Muslim and Black theories through text and how they were perceived through the boarding communities who were predominantly white.

We also discuss the importance of learning from those of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds from your own because you will be introduced to other views that you never show before and you also might have a different perspective on the topic being discussed.