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assignment1: write a paragraph (around 200)+reply at least two class (50words each *2)

 assignment2: write a paragraph (around 200)+peer review (50 words)

assignment 1: Sharing Passages from Freire

After reading Paulo Freire’s chapter on education, please select one passage from the text that you found particularly significant, interesting, difficult, or confusing.  A “passage” may be only one sentence, and it may be up to about one paragraph, but make sure you select a passage that is “juicy” enough that you’ll have plenty to say about it. 

After typing your passage, write a paragraph where you comment on at least two of the following things:

  • What did you find particularly interesting in this passage?
  • Why does this passage seem significant in the context of the larger chapter?
  • What questions do you have about the passage?
  • Was there anything in the passage that was confusing to you?  Why?  What have you discovered about it now that you’ve thought about it more? 

After posting, please read your classmates’ posts and comment on at least two of them to respond to either their questions or their ideas. 

assignment 2: Working with Thesis Statements with hooks

Now that you’ve read bell hooks’ essay, we’re going to spend some time thinking about what she is arguing in it.  Have you ever heard someone say “everything is an argument”?  The idea means that usually people are not really just telling you something for the sake of talking about it– they are actually trying to convince you of something.  Even though hooks’ essay includes a lot of personal anecdotes and reflections, she ultimately is making some different arguments that she is hoping to convince her readers to agree with by the end of the essay.  

For this discussion post, please look back through “Keeping Close to Home” and pick out at least TWO passages where you see hooks stating an argument she wishes to convince us to of.  Similar to our previous discussion, type the two passages in a post below and then explain, in your own words, what she is trying to convince us of.  By the way, putting her quotes into your own words is called “paraphrasing.”  More on that later.  

For this assignment, you should respond to ONE peer, letting them know if you can add on to their paraphrase or if you disagree with how they paraphrased it.  If so, please let them know how you would paraphrase it to make it more accurate or complete. 

PAULO FREIRE

PEDAGOGY of the

OPPRESSED ;

• 30TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION •

Translated by Myra Bergman Ramos

With an Introduction by Donaldo Macedo

A continuum • I f N E W Y O R K • L O N D O N

2005

The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc 15 East 26,h Street, New York, NY 10010

The Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd The Tower Building, 11 York Road, London SE1 7NX

Copyright © 1970, 1993 by Paulo Freire Introduction © 2000 by Donaldo Macedo

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written permission of The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc.

Printed in the United States of America

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Freire, Paulo, 1921- [Pedagogia del oprimido. English] Pedagogy of the oppressed / Paulo Freire ; translated by Myra

Bergman Ramos ; introduction by Donaldo Macedo.—30th anniversary ed. p. cm.

Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 0-8264-1276-9 (alk. paper) 1. Freire, Paulo, 1921- 2. Education—Philosophy. 3. Popular

education—Philosophy. 4. Critical pedagogy. I. Title.

LB880.F73 P4313 2000 370.11*5—dc21 00-030304

CHAPTER

2

A careful analysis of the teacher-student relationship at any level, inside or outside the school, reveals its fundamen­tally narrative character. This relationship involves a nar­ rating Subject (the teacher) and patient, listening objects (the students). The contents, whether values or empirical dimensions of reality, tend in the process of being narrated to become lifeless and petrified. Education is suffering from narration sickness.

The teacher talks about reality as if it were motionless, static, compartmentalized, and predictable. Or else he expounds on a topic completely alien to the existential experience of the students. His task is to “fill” the students with the contents of his narration— contents which are detached from reality, disconnected from the totality that engendered them and could give them significance. Words are emptied of their concreteness and become a hollow, alien­ ated, and alienating verbosity.

The outstanding characteristic of this narrative education, then, is the sonority of words, not their transforming power. “Four times four is sixteen; the capital of Para is Belem.” The student records, memorizes, and repeats these phrases without perceiving what four times four really means, or realizing the true significance of “capital” in the affirmation “the capital of Para is Belem,” that is, what Belem means for Pard and what Para means for Brazil.

Narration (with the teacher as narrator) leads the students to

72’PAULO FREIRE

memorize mechanically the narrated content. Worse yet, it turns them into “containers,” into “receptacles” to be “filled” by the teacher. The more completely she fills the receptacles, the better a teacher she is. The more meekly the receptacles permit themselves to be filled, the better students they are.

Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the stu- dents are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiques and makes de- posits which the students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat. This is the “banking” concept of education, in which the scope of action allowed to the students extends only as far as receiving, filing, and storing the deposits. They do, it is true, have the opportunity to become collectors or cataloguers of the things they store. But in the last analysis, it is the people themselves who are filed away through the lack of creativity, transformation, and knowledge in this (at best) misguided system. For apart from inquiry, apart from the praxis, individuals cannot be truly human. Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.

In the banking concept of education, knowledge is a gift bestowed by those who consider themselves knowledgeable upon those whom they consider to know nothing. Projecting an absolute ignorance onto others, a characteristic of the ideology)of oppression, negates education and knowledge as processes of inquiry. The teacher pre- sents himself to his students as their necessary opposite; by consid- ering their ignorance absolute, he- justifies his own existence. The students, alienated like the slave in the Hegelian dialectic, accept their ignorance as justifying the teachers existence—but, unlike the slave, they never discover that they educate the teacher.

The raison d’etre of libertarian education, on the other hand, lies in its drive towards reconciliation. Education must begin with the solution of the teacher-student contradiction, by reconciling the poles of the contradiction so that both are simultaneously teachers and students.

PEDAGOGY OF THE OPPRESSED ‘ 7 3

This solution is not (nor can it be) found in the banking concept. On the contrary, banking education maintains and even stimulates the contradiction through the following attitudes and practices, which mirrOr oppressive society as a whole:

(a) the teacher teaches and the students are taught; (b) the teacher knows everything and the students know nothing; (c) the teacher thinks and the students are thought about; (d) the teacher talks and the students listen—meekly; (e) the teacher disciplines and the students are disciplined; (f) the teacher chooses and enforces his choice, and the students

comply; (g) the teacher acts and the students have the illusion of acting

through the action of the teacher; (h) the teacher chooses the program content, and the students

(who were not consulted) adapt to it; (i) the teacher confuses the authority of knowledge with his or

her own professional authority, which she and he sets in oppo­ sition to the freedom of the students;

(j) the teacher is the Subject of the learning process, while the pupils are mere objects.

It is not surprising that the banking concept of education regards men as adaptable, manageable beings. The more students work at storing the deposits entrusted to them, the less they develop the critical consciousness which would result from their intervention in the world as transformers of that world. The more completely they accept the passive role imposed on them, the more they tend simply to adapt to the world as it is and to the fragmented view of reality deposited in them.

The capability of banking education to minimize or annul the students creative power and to stimulate their credulity serves the interests of the oppressors, who care neither to have the world re­ vealed nor to see it transformed. The oppressors use their “humani- tarianism” to preserve a profitable situation. Thus they react almost instinctively against any experiment in education which stimulates

74-PAULO FREIRE

the critical faculties and is not content with a partial view of reality but always seeks out the ties which link one point to another and one problem to another.

Indeed, the interests of the oppressors lie in “changing the con- sciousness of the oppressed, not the situation which oppresses them”;1 for the more the oppressed can be led to adapt to that situation, the more easily they can be dominated. To achieve this end, the oppressors use the banking concept of education in con- junction with a paternalistic social action apparatus, within which the oppressed receive the euphemistic title of “welfare recipients.” They are treated as individual cases, as marginal persons who devi- ate from the general configuration of a “good, organized, and just” society. The oppressed are regarded as the pathology of the healthy society, which must therefore adjust these “incompetent and lazy” folk to its own patterns by changing their mentality. These marginals need to be “integrated,” “incorporated” into the healthy society that they have “forsaken.”

The truth is, however, that the oppressed are not “marginals,” are not people living “outside” society. They have always been “inside”—inside the structure which made them “beings for others.” The solution is not to “integrate” them into the structure of oppres- sion, but to transform that structure so that they can become “beings for themselves.” Such transformation, of course, would undermine the oppressors purposes; hence their utilization of the banking con- cept of education to avoid the threat of student cpnscientizagdo.

The banking approach to adult education, for example, will never propose to students that they critically consider reality. It will deal instead with such vital questions as whether Roger gave green grass to the goat, and insist upon the importance of learning that, on the contrary, floger gave green grass to the rabbit. The “humanism” of the banking approach masks the effort to turn women and men into automatons—the very negation of their ontological vocation to be more fully human.

1. Simone de Beauvoir, La Pensee de Droite, Aujord’hui (Paris); ST, El Pensami- ento politico de la Derecha (Buenos Aires, 1963), p. 34.

PEDAGOGY OF THE OPPRESSED ‘ 7 5

Those who use the banking approach, knowingly or unknowingly (for there are innumerable well-intentioned bank-clerk teachers who do not realize that they are serving only to dehumanize), fail to perceive that the deposits themselves contain contradictions about reality. But, sooner or later, these contradictions may lead formerly passive students to turn against their domestication and the attempt to domesticate reality. They may discover through existential experi­ ence that their present way of life is irreconcilable with their voca­ tion to become fully human. They may perceive through their relations with reality that reality is really a process, undergoing constant transformation. If men and women are searchers and their ontological vocation is humanization, sooner or later they may per­ ceive the contradiction in which banking education seeks to main­ tain them, and then engage themselves in the struggle for their liberation.

But the humanist, revolutionary educator cannot wait for this pos­ sibility to materialize. From the outset, her efforts must coincide with those of the students to engage in critical thinking and the quest for mutual humanization. His efforts must be imbued with a profqund trust in people and their creative power. To achieve this, they must be partners of the students in their relations with them.

The banking concept does not admit to such partnership—and necessarily so. To resolve the teacher-student contradiction, to ex­ change the role of depositor, prescriber, domesticator, for the role of student among students would be to undermine the power of oppression and serve the cause of liberation.

Implicit in the banking concept is Uie assumption of a dichotomy between human beings and the world: a person is merely in the world, not with the world or with others; the individual is spectator, not re-creator. In this view, the person is not a conscious being (corpo consciente); he or she is rather the possessor of a conscious­ ness: an empty “mind” passively open to the reception of deposits of reality from the world outside. For example, my desk, my books, my coffee cup, all the objects before me—as bits of the world which surround me—would be “inside” me, exactly as I am inside my

7 6 – P A U L O FREIRE

study right now. This view makes no distinction between being ac- cessible to consciousness and entering consciousness. The distinc- tion, however, is essential: the objects which surround me are simply accessible to my consciousness, not located within it. I am aware of them, but they are not inside me.

It follows logically from the banking notion of consciousness that the educator s role is to regulate the way the world “enters into” the students. The teachers task is to organise a process which already occurs spontaneously, to “fill” the students by making deposits of information which he or she considers to constitute true knowledge.2

And since people “receive” the world as passive entities, education should make them more passive still, and adapt them to the world. The educated individual is the adapted person, because she or he is better “fit” for the world. Translated into practice, this concept is well suited to the purposes of the oppressors, whose tranquility rests on how well people fit the world the oppressors have created, and how little they question it.

The more completely the majority adapt to the purposes which the dominant minority prescribe for them (thereby depriving them of the right to their own purposes), the more easily the minority can continue to prescribe. The theory and practice of banking education serve this end quite efficiently. Verbalistic lessons, reading require- ments,3 the methods for evaluating “knowledge,” the distance be- tween the teacher and the taught, the criteria, for promotion: everything in this ready-to-wear approach serves to obviate thinking.

The bank-clerk educator does not realize that there is no true security in his hypertrophied role, that one must seek to live with others in solidarity. One cannot impose oneself, nor even merely

2. This concept corresponds to what Sartre calls the “digestive” or “nutritive” concept of education, in which knowledge is “fed” by the teacher to the students to “fill them out.” See Jean-Paul Sartre, “Une idee fundamentale de la phenomeno- logie de Husserl: L’intentionalite,” Situations I (Paris, 1947).

3. For example, some professors specify in their reading lists that a book should be read from pages 10 to 15—and do this to “help” their students!

PEDAGOGY OF THE OPPRESSED • 77

co-exist with one’s students. Solidarity requires true communica­ tion, and the concept by which such an educator is guided fears and proscribes< communication.

Yet only through communication can human life hold meaning. The teachers thinking is authenticated only by the authenticity of the students thinking. The teacher cannot think for her students, nor can she impose her thought on them. Authentic thinking, think­ ing that is concerned about reality, does not take place in ivory tower isolation, but only in communication. If it is true that thought has meaning only when generated by action upon the world, the subordination of students to teachers becomes impossible.

Because banking education begins with a false understanding of men and women as objects, it cannot promote the development of what Fromm calls “biophily,” but instead produces its opposite: “necrophily.”

While life is characterized by growth in a structured, functional manner, the necrophilous person loves all that does not grow, all that is mechanical. The necrophilous person is driven by the desire to transform the organic into the inorganic, to approach life mechanically, as if all living persons were things. . . . Mem­ ory, rather than experience; having, rather than being, is what counts. The necrophilous person can relate to an object—a flower or a person—only if he possesses it; hence a threat to his possession is a threat to himself; if he loses possession he loses contact with the world. . . . He loves control, and in the act of controlling he kills life.4

Oppression—overwhelming control—is necrophilic; it is nour­ ished by love of death, not life. The banking concept of education, which serves the interests of oppression, is also necrophilic. Based on a mechanistic, static, naturalistic, spatialized view of conscious­ ness, it transforms students into receiving objects. It attempts to control thinking and action, leads women and men to adjust to the world, and inhibits their creative power.

4. Fromm, op. cit.y p. 41.

7 8 – P A U L O FREIRE

When their efforts to act responsibly are frustrated, when they find themselves unable to use their faculties, people suffer. “This suffering due to impotence is rooted in the very fact that the human equilibrium has been disturbed/’5 But the inability to act which causes people’s anguish also causes them to reject their impotence, by attempting

. . . to restore [their] capacity to act. But can [they], and how? One way is to submit to and identify with a person or group having power. By this symbolic participation in another persons life, [men have] the illusion of acting, when in reality [they] only submit to and become a part of those who act.6

Populist manifestations perhaps best exemplify this type of behav­ ior by the oppressed, who, by identifying with charismatic leaders, come to feel that they themselves are active and effective. The rebel­ lion they express as they emerge in the historical process is moti­ vated by that desire to act effectively. The dominant elites consider the remedy to be more domination and repression, carried out in the name of freedom, order, and social peace (that is, the peace of the elites). Thus they can condemn-—logically, from their point of view—”the violence of a strike by workers and [can] call upon the state in the same breath to use violence in putting down the strike.”7

Education as the exercise of domination stimulates the credulity of students, with the ideological intent (often not perceived by edu­ cators) of indoctrinating them to adapt to the world of oppression. This accusation is not made in the naive hope that the dominant elites will thereby simply abandon the practice. Its objective is to call the attention of true humanists to the fact that they cannot use banking educational methods in the pursuit of liberation, for they would only negate that very pursuit. Nor may a revolutionary society inherit these methods from an oppressor society. The revolutionary society which practices banking education is either misguided or

5. Ibid., p. 31. 6. Ibid. 1. Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society (New York, 1960), p. 130.

PEDAGOGY OF THE OPPRESSED – 7 9

mistrusting of people. In either event, it is threatened by the specter of reaction.

Unfortunately, those who espouse the cause of liberation are themselves surrounded and influenced by the climate which gener­ ates the banking concept, and often do not perceive its true signifi­ cance or its dehumanizing power. Paradoxically, then, they utilize this same instrument of alienation in what they consider an effort to liberate. Indeed, some “revolutionaries” brand as “innocents,” “dreamers,” or even “reactionaries” those who would challenge this educational practice. But one does not liberate people by alienating them. Authentic liberation—the process of humanization—is not another deposit to be made in men. Liberation is a praxis: the action and reflection of men and women upon their world in order to transform it. Those truly committed to the cause of liberation can accept neither the mechanistic concept of consciousness as an empty vessel to be filled, nor the use of banking methods of domination (propaganda, slogans—deposits) in the name of liberation.

Those truly committed to liberation must reject the banking con­ cept in its entirety, adopting instead a concept of women and men as conscious beings, and consciousness as consciousness intent upon the world. They must abandon the educational goal of deposit-mak­ ing and replace it with the posing of the problems of human beings in their relations with the world. “Problem-posing” education, re­ sponding to the essence of consciousness—intentionality—rejects communiques and embodies communication. It epitomizes the spe­ cial characteristic of consciousness: being conscious of, not only as intent on objects but as turned in upon itself in a Jasperian “split”—consciousness as consciousness of consciousness.

Liberating education consists in acts of cognition, not transferrals of information. It is a learning situation in which the cognizable object (far from being the end of the cognitive act) intermediates the cognitive actors—teacher on the one hand and students on the other. Accordingly, the practice of problem-posing education entails at the outset that the teacher-student contradiction to be resolved. Dialogical relations—indispensable to the capacity of cognitive

80-PAULO FREIRE

actors to cooperate in perceiving the same cognizable object—are otherwise impossible.

Indeed, problem-posing education, which breaks with the vertical patterns characteristic of banking education, can fulfill its function as the practice of freedom only if it can overcome the above contra- diction. Through dialogue, the teacher-of-the-students and the stu- dents-of-the-teacher cease to exist and a new term emerges: teacher- student with students-teachers. The te&her is no longer merely the-one-who-teaches, but one who is himself taught in dialogue with the students, who in turn while being taught also teach. They be- come jointly responsible for a process in which all grow. In this process, arguments based on “authority” are no longer valid; in order to function, authority must be on the side of freedom, not against it. Here, no one teaches another, nor is anyone self-taught. People teach each other, mediated by the world, by the cognizable objects which in banking education are “owned” by the teacher.

The banking concept (with its tendency to dichotomize every- thing) distinguishes two stages in the action of the educator. During the first, he cognizes a cognizable object while he prepares his les- sons in his study or his laboratory; during the second, he expounds to his students about that object. The students are not called upon to know, but to memorize the contents narrated by the teacher. Nor do the students practice any act of cognition, since the object to- wards which that act should be directed is the property of the teacher rather than a medium evoking the critical reflection of both teacher and students. Hence in the name of the “preservation of culture and knowledge” we have a system which achieves neither true knowledge nor true culture.

The problem-posing method does not dichotomize the activity of the teacher-student: she is not “cognitive” at one point and “narra- tive” at another. She is always “cognitive,” whether preparing a proj- ect or engaging in dialogue with the students. He does not regard cognizable objects as his private property, but as the object of re- flection by himself and the students. In this way, the problem-posing educator constantly re-forms his reflections in the reflection of the

PEDAGOGY OF THE OPPRESSED – 8 1

students. The students—no longer docile listeners—are now critical co-investigators in dialogue with the teacher. The teacher presents the material to the students for their consideration, and re-considers her earlier considerations as the students express their own. The role of the problem-posing educator is to create; together with the students, the conditions under which knowledge at the level of the doxa is superseded by true knowledge, at the level of the logos,

Whereas banking education anesthetizes and inhibits creative power, problem-posing education involves a constant unveiling of reality. The former attempts to maintain the submersion of con- sciousness; the latter strives for the emergence of consciousness and critical intervention in reality.

Students, as they are increasingly posed with problems relating to themselves in the world and with the world, will feel increasingly challenged and obliged to respond to that challenge. Because they apprehend the challenge as interrelated to other problems within a total context, not as a theoretical question, the resulting comprehen- sion tends to be increasingly critical and thus constantly less alien- ated. Their response to the challenge evokes new challenges, followed by new understandings; and gradually the students come to regard themselves as committed.

Education as the practice of freedom—as opposed to education as the practice of domination—denies that man is abstract, isolated, independent, and unattached to the world; it also denies that the world exists as a reality apart from people. Authentic reflection con- siders neither abstract man nor the world without people, but peo- ple in their relations with the world. In these relations consciousness and world are simultaneous: consciousness neither precedes the world nor follows it.

La conscience et le monde sont donnes d’un meme coup: exte- rieur par essence a la conscience, le monde est, par essence re- latif a elle.8

8. Sartre; op. cit., p. 32.

82 • PAULO F R E I R E

In one of our culture circles in Chile, the group was discussing (based on a codification9) the anthropological concept of culture. In the midst of the discussion, a peasant who by banking standards was completely ignorant said: “Now I see that without man there is no world.” When the educator responded: “Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that all the men on earth were to die, but that the earth itself remained, together with trees, birds, animals, rivers, seas, the stars . . , wouldn’t all this be a world?” “Oh no,” the peasant replied emphatically. “There would be no one to say: This is a world’.”

The peasant wished to express the idea that there would be lack- ing the consciousness of the world which necessarily implies the world of consciousness. 7 cannot exist without a non-I. In turn, the not-I depends on that existence. The world which brings conscious- ness into existence becomes the world of that consciousness. Hence, the previously cited affirmation of Sartre: “La conscience et le monde sont donnes dun meme coup.”

As women and men, simultaneously reflecting on themselves and on the world, increase the scope of their perception, they begin to direct their observations towards previously inconspicuous phe- nomena:

In perception properly so-called, as an explicit awareness [Gewahren], I am turned towards the object, to &e paper, for instance. I apprehend it as being this here and now; The appre- hension is a singling out, every object having a background in experience. Around and about the paper lie books, pencils, ink- well, and so forth, and these in a certain sense are also “per- ceived”, perceptually there, in the “field of intuition”; but whilst I was turned towards the paper there was no turning in their direction, nor any apprehending of them, not even in a second- ary sense. They appeared and yet were not singled out, were not posited on their own account. Every perception of a thing has such a zone of background intuitions or background aware- ness, if “intuiting” already includes the state of being turned towards, and this also is a “conscious experience”, or more briefly

9. See chapter 3.—Translator’s note.

PEDAGOGY OF THE OPPRESSED • 83

a “consciousness of* all indeed that in point of fact lies in the co-perceived objective background.10

That which had existed objectively but had not been perceived in its deeper implications (if indeed it was perceived at all) begins to “stand out,” assuming the character of a problem and therefore of challenge. Thus, men and women begin to single out elements from their “background awareness” and to reflect upon them. These ele­ ments are now objects of their consideration, and, as such, objects of their action and cognition.

In problem-posing education, people develop their power to per­ ceive critically the way they exist in the world with which and in which they find themselves; they come to see the world not as a static reality, but as a reality in process, in transformation. Although the dialectical relations of women and men with the world exist independently of how these relations are perceived (or whether or not they are perceived at all), it is also true that the form of action they adopt is to a large extent a function of how they perceive them­ selves in the world. Hence, the teacher-student and the students- teachers reflect simultaneously on themselves and the world without dichotomizing this reflection from action, and thus establish an au­ thentic form of thought and action.

Once again, the two educational concepts and practices under analysis come into conflict. Banking education (for obvious reasons) attempts, by mythicizing reality, to conceal certain facts which ex­ plain the way human beings exist in the world; problem-posing edu­ cation sets itself the task of demythologizing. Banking education resists dialogue; problem-posing education regards dialogue as in­ dispensable to the act of cognition which unveils reality. Banking education treats students as objects of assistance; problem-posing education makes them critical thinkers. Banking education inhibits creativity and domesticates (although it cannot completely destroy) the intentionality of consciousness by isolating consciousness from

10. Edmund Husserl, Ideas—General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology (London, 1969), pp. 105-106.

84-PAULO FREIRE

the world, thereby denying people their ontological and historical vocation of becoming more fully human. Problem-posing education bases itself on creativity and stimulates true reflection and action upon reality, thereby responding to the vocation of persons as beings who are authentic only when engaged in inquiry and creative trans- formation. In sum: banking theory and practice, as immobilizing and fixating forces, fail to acknowledge men and women as historical beings; problem-posing theory and practice take the peoples histo- ricity as their starting point.

Problem-posing education affirms men and women as beings in the process of becoming—as unfinished, uncompleted beings in and with a likewise unfinished reality. Indeed, in contrast to other ani- mals who are unfinished, but not historical, people know themselves to be unfinished; they are aware of their incompletion. In this incom- pletion and this awareness lie the very roots of education as an exclusively human manifestation. The unfinished character of hu- man beings and the transformational character of reality necessitate that education be an ongoing activity.

Education is thus constantly remade in the praxis. In order to be, it must become. Its “duration” (in the Bergsonian meaning of the word) is found in the interplay of the opposites permanence and change. The banking method emphasizes permanence and becomes reactionary; problem-posing education—which accepts neither a “well-behaved” present nor a predetermined future—roots itself in the dynamic present and becomes revolutionary.

Problem-posing education is revolutionary futurity. Hence it is prophetic (and, as such, hopeful). Hence, it corresponds to the his- torical nature of humankind. Hence, it affirms women and men as beings who transcend themselves, who move forward and look ahead, for whom immobility represents a fatal threat, for whom looking at the past must only be a means of understanding more clearly what and who they are so that they can more wisely build the future. Hence, it identifies with the movement which engages people as beings aware of their incompletion—an historical move- ment which has its point of departure, its Subjects and its objective.

PEDAGOGY OF THE OPPRESSED – 8 5

The point of departure of the movement lies in the people them­ selves. But since people do not exist apart from the world, apart from reality, the movement must begin with the human-world rela­ tionship. Accordingly, the point of departure must always be with men and women in the “here and now,” which constitutes the situ­ ation within which they are submerged, from which they emerge, and in which they intervene. Only by starting from this situation— which determines their perception of it—can they begin to move. To do this authentically they must perceive their state not as fated and unalterable, but merely as limiting—and therefore challenging.

Whereas the banking method directly or indirectly reinforces men’s fatalistic perception of their situation, the problem-posing method presents this very situation to them as a problem. As the situation becomes the object of their cognition, the naive or magical perception which produced their fatalism gives way to perception which is able to perceive itself even as it perceives reality, and can thus be critically objective about that reality.

A deepened consciousness of their situation leads people to ap­ prehend that situation as an historical reality susceptible of transfor­ mation. Resignation gives way to the drive for transformation and inquiry, over which men feel themselves to be in control. If people, as historical beings necessarily engaged with other people in a move­ ment of inquiry, did not control that movement, it would be (and is) a violation of their humanity. Any situation in which some indi­ viduals prevent others from engaging in the process of inquiry is one of violence. The means used are not important; to alienate human beings from their own decision-making is to change them into objects.

This movement of inquiry must be directed towards humaniza- tion—the people’s historical vocation. The pursuit of full humanity, however, cannot be carried out in isolation or individualism, but only in fellowship and solidarity; therefore it cannot unfold in the antagonistic relations between oppressors and oppressed. No one can be authentically human while he prevents others from being so. Attempting to be more human, individualistically, leads to having

86 ‘PAULO FREIRE

more, egotistically, a form of dehumanization. Not that it is not fundamental to have in order to be Human. Precisely because it is necessary, some men’s having must not be allowed to constitute an obstacle to others having, must not consolidate the power of the former to crush the latter.

Problem-posing education, as a humanist and liberating praxis, posits as fundamental that the people subjected to domination must fight for their emancipation. To that end, it enables teachers and students to become Subjects of the educational process by overcom- ing authoritarianism and an alienating intellectualism; it also enables people to overcome their false perception of reality. The world—no longer something to be described with deceptive words—becomes the object of that transforming action by men and women which results in their humanization.

Problem-posing education does not and cannot serve the interests of the oppressor. No oppressive order could permit the oppressed to begin to question: Why? While only a revolutionary society can carry out this education in systematic terms, the revolutionary lead- ers need not take full power before they can employ the method. In the revolutionary process, the leaders cannot utilize the banking method as an interim measure, justified on grounds of expediency, with the intention of later behaving in a genuinely revolutionary fashion. They must be revolutionary—that is to say, dialogical—from the outset.

  • Cover
  • Contents
  • Publisher’s Foreword
  • Introduction to the Anniversary Edition by Donaldo Macedo
  • Foreword by Richard Shaull
  • Preface
  • Chapter 1
  • Chapter 2
  • Chapter 3
  • Chapter 4

8 Chapter 2 Education and Learning

a n d y o u r e m o t i o n s a r e r u n n i n g w i l d . I f y o u ‘ r e a w o r k i n g – c l a s s k i d i n t h e v o c a t i o n a l t r a c k , t h e o p t i o n s y o u ‘ l l h a v e t o d e a l w i t h t h i s w i l l b e c o n s t r a i n e d i n c e r t a i n w a y s : Y o u ‘ r e d e f i n e d b y y o u r s c h o o l a s ” s l o w ” ; y o u ‘ r e p l a c e d i n a c u r r i c u l u m t h a t i s n ‘ t d e s i g n e d t o l i b – e r a t e y o u b u t t o o c c u p y y o u , o r , i f y o u ‘ r e l u c k y , t r a i n y o u , t h o u g h t h e t r a i n i n g i s f o r w o r k t h e s o c i e t y d o e s n o t e s t e e m ; o t h e r s t u – d e n t s a r e p i c k i n g u p t h e c u e s f r o m y o u r s c h o o l a n d y o u r c u r r i c u – l u m a n d i n t e r a c t i n g w i t h y o u i n p a r t i c u l a r w a y s . I f y o u ‘ r e a k i d l i k e T e d R i c h a r d , y o u t u r n y o u r b a c k o n a l l t h i s a n d l e t y o u r m i n d r o a m w h e r e i t m a y . B u t y o u n g s t e r s l i k e T e d a r e r a r e . W h a t K e n a n d s o m a n y o t h e r s d o i s p r o t e c t t h e m s e l v e s f r o m s u c h s u f f o c a t – i n g m a d n e s s b y t a k i n g o n w i t h a v e n g e a n c e t h e i d e n t i t y i m p l i e d i n t h e v o c a t i o n a l t r a c k . R e j e c t t h e c o n f u s i o n a n d f r u s t r a t i o n b y o p e n l y d e f i n i n g y o u r s e l f a s t h e C o m m o n J o e . C h a m p i o n t h e a v e r – a g e . R e l y o n y o u r o w n g o o d s e n s e . F — t h i s b u l l . B u l l , o f c o u r s e , i s e v e r y t h i n g y o u — a n d t h e o t h e r s — f e a r i s b e y o n d y o u : b o o k s , e s s a y s , t e s t s , a c a d e m i c s c r a m b l i n g , c o m p l e x i t y , s c i e n t i f i c r e a s o n i n g , p h i l o s o p h i c a l i n q u i r y .

T h e t r a g e d y i s t h a t y o u h a v e t o t w i s t t h e k n i f e i n y o u r o w n g r a y m a t t e r t o m a k e t h i s d e f e n s e w o r k . Y o u ‘ l l h d v e t o s h u t d o w n , h a v e t o r e j e c t i n t e l l e c t u a l s t i m u l i o r d i f f u s e t h e m w i t h s a r c a s m , h a v e t o c u l t i v a t e s t u p i d i t y , h a v e t o c o n v e r t b o r e d o m f r o m a m a l – a d y i n t o a w a y o f c o n f r o n t i n g t h e w o r l d . K e e p y o u r v o c a b u l a r y s i m p l e , a c t s t o n e d w h e n y o u ‘ r e n o t o r a c t m o r e s t o n e d t h a n y o u a r e , f l a u n t i g n o r a n c e , m a t e r i a l i z e y o u r d r e a m s . I t i s a p o w e r f u l a n d e f f e c t i v e d e f e n s e — i t n e u t r a l i z e s t h e i n s u l t a n d t h e f r u s t r a t i o n o f b e i n g a v o c a t i o n a l k i d a n d , w h e n p e r f e c t e d , i t d r i v e s t e a c h e r s u p t h e w a l l , a d e l i g h t f u l s e c o n d a r y e f f e c t . B u t l i k e a l l s t r o n g m a g i c , i t e x a c t s a p r i c e .

M y o w n d e l i v e r a n c e f r o m t h e V o c . E d . w o r l d b e g a n w i t h s o p h o m o r e b i o l o g y . E v e r y s t u d e n t , c o l l e g e p r e p t o v o c a t i o n a l , h a d t o t a k e b i o l o g y , a n d u n l i k e t h e o t h e r c o u r s e s , t h e s a m e p e r – s o n t a u g h t a l l s e c t i o n s . W h e n t e a c h i n g t h e v o c a t i o n a l g r o u p . B r o t h e r C l i n t p r o b a b l y s l o w e d d o w n a b i t o r o m i t t e d a l i t t l e o f t h e f u n d a m e n t a l b i o c h e m i s t r y , b u t h e u s e d t h e s a m e b o o k a n d m o r e o r l e s s t h e s a m e s y l l a b u s a c r o s s t h e b o a r d . I f o n e c l a s s g o t t o u g h , h e c o u l d g e t t o u g h e r . H e w a s y o u n g a n d p o w e r f u l a n d

keeping close to home: class and education bell hooks 99

v e r y h a n d s o m e , a n d l o o k s a n d p h y s i c a l s t r e n g t h w e r e h i g h c u r – r e n c y . N o o n e g a v e h i m a n y t r o u b l e .

I w a s p r e t t y b a d a t t h e d i s s e c t i n g t a b l e , b u t t h e l e c t u r e s a n d t h e t e x t b o o k w e r e i n t e r e s t i n g : p l a s t i c o v e r l a y s t h a t , w i t h e a c h t u r n e d p a g e , p e e l e d a w a y s k i n , t h e n v e i n s a n d m u s c l e , t h e n o r – g a n s , d o w i i t o t h e v e r y b o n e s t h a t B r o t h e r C l i n t , p o i n t e r i n h a n d , w o u l d t a p o u t o n o u r h a n g i n g s k e l e t o n . D a v e S n y d e r w a s i n b i g t r o u b l e , f o r t h e s t u d y o f l i f e — v e r s u s t h e l i v i n g o f i t — w a s s t i c k i n g i n h i s c r a w . W e w o r k e d o u t a c o d e f o r o u r m u l t i p l e – c h o i c e e x a m s . H e ‘ d p o k e m e i n t h e b a c k : o n c e f o r t h e a n s w e r u n d e r A, t w i c e f o r B , a n d s o o n : a n d w h e n h e ‘ d h i t t h e r i g h t o n e , I ‘ d l o o k u p t o t h e c e i h n g a s t h o u g h I w e r e l o s t i n t h o u g h t . P o k e : c y t o p l a s m . P o k e , p o k e : m e t h a n e . P o k e , p o k e , p o k e : W i l l i a m H a r v e y . P o k e , p o k e , p o k e , p o k e : i s l e t s o f L a n g e r h a n s . T h i s d i d n ‘ t w o r k o u t p e r f e c t l y , b u t D a v e p a s s e d t h e c o u r s e , a n d 1 m a s t e r e d t h e d r e a m y l o o k o f a g u y o n a r e c o r d j a c k e t . A n d s o m e t h i n g e l s e h a p p e n e d . B r o t h e r C l i n t p u z z l e d o v e r t h i s V o c . E d . k i d w h o w a s r a c k i n g u p 9 8 s a n d 9 9 s o n h i s t e s t s . H e c h e c k e d t h e s c h o o l ‘ s r e c o r d s a n d d i s c o v e r e d t h e e r r o r . H e r e c o m m e n d e d t h a t I b e g i n m y j u n i o r y e a r i n t h e C o l – l e g e P r e p p r o g r a m . A c c o r d i n g t o a l l I ‘ v e r e a d s i n c e , s u c h a s h i f t , a s o n e r e p o r t p u t i t , i s v i r t u a l l y i m p o s s i b l e . K i d s a t t h a t l e v e l r a r e l y c r o s s t r a c k s . T h e t e l l i n g t h i n g i s h o w c h a n c y b o t h m y p l a c e m e n t i n t o a n d e x i t f r o m V o c . E d . w a s ; n e i t h e r I n o r m y p a r e n t s h a d a n y – t h i n g t o d o w i t h i t . I l i v e d i n o n e w o r l d d u r i n g s p r i n g s e m e s t e r , a n d w h e n I c a m e b a c k t o s c h o o l i n t h e f a l l , I w a s l i v i n g i n a n o t h e r .

2 9 8 9

k e e p i n g c l o s e t o h o m e : c l a s s a n d e d u c a t i o n bell h o o k s

W e a r e b o t h a w a k e i n t h e a l m o s t d a r k o f 5 a . m . E v e r y o n e e l s e i s s o u n d a s l e e p . M a m a a s k s t h e u s u a l q u e s t i o n s . T e l l i n g m e t o l o o k

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a r o u n d , m a k e s u r e I h a v e e v e r y t h i n g , s c o l d i n g m e b e c a u s e 1 a m u n c e r t a i n a b o u t t h e a c t u a l t i m e t h e b u s a r r i v e s . B y 5 : 3 0 w e a r e w a i t i n g o u t s i d e t h e c l o s e d s t a t i o n . A l o n e t o g e t h e r , w e h a v e a c h a n c e t o r e a l l y t a l k . M a m a b e g i n s . A n g r y w i t h h e r c h i l d r e n , e s p e c i a l l y t h e o n e s w h o w h i s p e r b e h i n d h e r b a c k , s h e s a y s b i t t e r l y , ” Y o u r c h i l d h o o d c o u l d n o t h a v e b e e n t h a t b a d . Y o u w e r e f e d a n d c l o t h e d . Y o u d i d n o t h a v e t o d o w i t h o u t — t h a t ‘ s m o r e t h a n a l o t o f f o l k s h a v e a n d I j u s t c a n ‘ t s t a n d t h e w a y y ‘ a l l g o o n . ” T h e h u r t i n h e r v o i c e s a d d e n s m e . I h a v e a l w a y s w a n t e d t o p r o t e c t m a m a f r o m h u r t , t o e a s e h e r b u r d e n s . N o w I a m p a r t o f w h a t t r o u b l e s . C o n f r o n t i n g m e , s h e s a y s a c c u s i n g l y , ” I t ‘ s n o t j u s t t h e o t h e r c h i l – d r e n . Y o u t a l k t o o m u c h a b o u t t h e p a s t . Y o u d o n ‘ t j u s t l i s t e n . ” A n d I d o t a l k . W o r s e , I w r i t e a b o u t i t .

M a m a h a s a l w a y s c o m e t o e a c h o f h e r c h i l d r e n s e e k i n g d i f f e r – e n t r e s p o n s e s . W i t h m e s h e e x p r e s s e s t h e d i s a p p o i n t m e n t , h u r t , a n d a n g e r o f b e t r a y a l : a n g e r t h a t h e r c h i l d r e n a r e s o c r i t i c a l , t h a t w e c a n ‘ t e v e n h a v e t h e s e n s e t o l i k e t h e p r e s e n t s s h e s e n d s . S h e s a y s , ” F r o m n o w o n t h e r e w i l l b e n o p r e s e n t s . I ‘ l l j u s t s t i c k s o m e m o n e y i n a l i t t l e e n v e l o p e t h e w a y t h e r e s t o f y o u d o . N o b o d y w a n t s c r i t i c i s m . E v e r y b o d y c a n c r i t i c i z e m e b u t I a m s u p p o s e d t o s a y n o t h i n g . ” W h e n I t r y t o t a l k , m y v o i c e s o u n d s l i k e a t w e l v e y e a r o l d . W h e n I t r y t o t a l k , s h e s p e a k s l o u d e r , i n t e r r u p t i n g m e , e v e n t h o u g h s h e h a s s a i d r e p e a t e d l y , ” E x p l a i n i t t o m e , t h i s t a l k a b o u t t h e p a s t . ” I s t r u g g l e t o r e t u r n t o m y t h i r t y – f i v e y e a r o l d s e l f s o t h a t s h e w i l l k n o w b y t h e s o u n d o f m y v o i c e t h a t w e a r e t w o w o m e n t a l k i n g t o g e t h e r . I t i s o n l y w h e n I s t a t e f i r m l y i n m y v e r y a d u l t v o i c e , ” M a m a , y o u a r e n o t l i s t e n i n g , ” t h a t s h e b e c o m e s q u i e t . S h e w a i t s . N o w t h a t I h a v e h e r a t t e n t i o n , I f e a r t h a t m y e x – p l a n a t i o n s w i l l b e l a m e , i n a d e q u a t e . ” M a m a , ” I b e g i n , ” p e o p l e u s u a l l y g o t o t h e r a p y b e c a u s e t h e y f e e l h u r t i n s i d e , b e c a u s e t h e y h a v e p a i n t h a t w i l l n o t s t o p , h k e a w o u n d t h a t c o n t i n u a l l y b r e a k s o p e n , t h a t d o e s n o t h e a l . A n d o f t e n t h e s e h u r t s , t h a t p a i n h a s t o d o w i t h t h i n g s t h a t h a v e h a p p e n e d i n t h e p a s t , s o m e t i m e s i n c h i l d – h o o d , o f t e n i n c h i l d h o o d , o r t h i n g s t h a t w e b e l i e v e h a p p e n e d . ” S h e w a n t s t o k n o w , ” W h a t h u r t s , w h a t h u r t s a r e y o u t a l k i n g a b o u t ? ” ” M o m , I c a n ‘ t a n s w e r t h a t . I c a n ‘ t s p e a k f o r a l l o f u s , t h e h u r t s a r e d i f f e r e n t f o r e v e r y b o d y . B u t t h e p o i n t i s y o u t r y t o m a k e t h e h u r t b e t t e r , t o h e a l i t , b y u n d e r s t a n d i n g h o w i t c a m e t o b e . A n d I k n o w

keeping close to home: class and education bell hooks 101

y o u f e e l m a d w h e n w e s a y s o m e t h i n g h a p p e n e d o r h u r t t h a t y o u d o n ‘ t r e m e m b e r b e i n g t h a t w a y , b u t t h e p a s t i s n ‘ t U k e t h a t , w e d o n ‘ t h a v e t h e s a m e m e m o r y o f i t . W e r e m e m b e r t h i n g s d i f f e r e n t l y . Y o u k n o w t h a t . A n d s o m e t i m e s f o l k f e e l h u r t a b o u t s t u f f a n d y o u j u s t d o n ‘ t k n o w o r d i d n ‘ t r e a l i z e i t , a n d t h e y n e e d t o t a l k a b o u t i t . S u r e l y y o u r m d e r s t a n d t h e n e e d t o t a l k a b o u t i t . “

O u r c o n v e r s a t i o n i s i n t e r r u p t e d b y t h e s i g h t o f m y u n c l e w a l k i n g a c r o s s t h e p a r k t o w a r d u s . W e s t o p t o w a t c h h i m . H e i s o n h i s w a y t o w o r k d r e s s e d i n a f a m i l i a r b l u e s u i t . T h e y l o o k a l i k e , t h e s e t w o w h o r a r e l y d i s c u s s t h e p a s t . T h i s i n t e r r u p t i o n m a k e s m e t h i n k a b o u t l i f e i n a s m a l l t o w n . Y o u a l w a y s s e e s o m e o n e y o u k n o w . I n t e r r u p t i o n s , i n t r u s i o n s a r e p a r t o f d a i l y l i f e . P r i v a c y i s d i f – f i c u l t t o m a i n t a i n . W e l e a v e o u r p r i v a t e s p a c e i n t h e c a r t o g r e e t h i m . A f t e r t h e h u g a n d k i s s h e h a s g i v e n m e e v e r y y e a r s i n c e 1 w a s b o r n , t h e y t a l k a b o u t t h e d a y ‘ s f u n e r a l s . I n t h e d i s t a n c e t h e b u s a p p r o a c h e s . H e w a l k s a w a y k n o w i n g t h a t t h e y w i l l s e e e a c h o t h e r l a t e r . J u s t b e f o r e I b o a r d t h e b u s I t u r n , s t a r i n g i n t o m y m o t h e r ‘ s f a c e . I a m m o m e n t a r i l y b a c k i n t i m e , s e e i n g m y s e l f e i g h t e e n y e a r s a g o , a t t h i s s a m e b u s s t o p , s t a r i n g i n t o m y m o t h e r ‘ s f a c e , c o n t i n u a l l y t u r n i n g b a c k , w a v i n g f a r e w e l l a s I r e t u r n e d t o c o l l e g e — t h a t e x p e r i e n c e w h i c h f i r s t t o o k m e a w a y f r o m o u r t o w n , f r o m f a m i l y . D e p a r t i n g w a s a s p a i n f u l t h e n a s i t i s n o w . E a c h m o v e m e n t a w a y m a k e s r e t u r n h a r d e r . E a c h s e p a r a t i o n i n t e n s i f i e s d i s t a n c e , b o t h p h y s i c a l a n d e m o t i o n a l

T o a s o u t h e r n b l a c k g i r l f r o m a w o r k i n g – c l a s s b a c k g r o u n d w h o h a d n e v e r b e e n o n a c i t y b u s , w h o h a d n e v e r s t e p p e d o n a n e s c a l a t o r , w h o h a d n e v e r t r a v e l l e d b y p l a n e , l e a v i n g t h e c o m f o r t – a b l e c o n f i n e s o f a s m a l l t o w n K e n t u c k y l i f e t o a t t e n d S t a n f o r d U n i v e r s i t y w a s n o t j u s t f r i g h t e n i n g ; i t w a s u t t e r l y p a i n f u l . M y p a r e n t s h a d n o t b e e n d e h g h t e d t h a t I h a d b e e n a c c e p t e d a n d a d a m a n t l y o p p o s e d m y g o i n g s o f a r f r o m h o m e . A t t h e t i m e , I d i d n o t s e e t h e i r o p p o s i t i o n a s a n e x p r e s s i o n o f t h e i r f e a r t h a t t h e y w o u l d l o s e m e f o r e v e r . L i k e m a n y w o r k i n g – c l a s s f o l k s , t h e y f e a r e d w h a t c o l l e g e e d u c a t i o n m i g h t d o t o t h e i r c h i l d r e n ‘ s m i n d s e v e n a s t h e y u n e n t h u s i a s t i c a l l y a c k n o w l e d g e d i t s i m p o r t a n c e . T h e y d i d n o t u n d e r s t a n d w h y I c o u l d n o t a t t e n d a c o l l e g e n e a r b y , a n a l l – b l a c k c o l l e g e . T o t h e m , a n y c o l l e g e w o u l d d o . I w o u l d g r a d – u a t e , b e c o m e a s c h o o l t e a c h e r , m a k e a d e c e n t l i v i n g a n d a g o o d

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m a r r i a g e . A n d e v e n t h o u g h t h e y r e l u c t a n t l y a n d s k e p t i c a l l y s u p – p o r t e d m y e d u c a t i o n a l e n d e a v o r s , t h e y a l s o s u b j e c t e d t h e m t o c o n s t a n t h a r s h a n d b i t t e r c r i t i q u e . I t i s d i f f i c u l t f o r m c t o t a l k a b o u t m y p a r e n t s a n d t h e i r i m p a c t o n m e b e c a u s e t h e y h a v e a l – w a y s f e l t w a r y , a m b i v a l e n t , m i s t r u s t i n g o f m y i n t e l l e c t u a l a s p i r a – t i o n s e v e n a s t h e y h a v e b e e n c a r i n g a n d s u p p o r t i v e . I w a n t t o s p e a k a b o u t t h e s e c o n t r a d i c t i o n s b e c a u s e s o r t i n g t h r o u g h t h e m , s e e k i n g r e s o l u t i o n a n d r e c o n c i l i a t i o n h a s b e e n i m p o r t a n t t o m e b o t h a s i t a f f e c t s m y d e v e l o p m e n t a s a w r i t e r , m y e f f o r t t o b e f u l l y s e l f – r e a l i z e d , a n d m y l o n g i n g t o r e m a i n c l o s e t o t h e f a m i l y a n d c o m m u n i t y t h a t p r o v i d e d t h e g r o u n d w o r k f o r m u c h o f m y t h i n k – i n g , w r i t i n g , a n d b e i n g .

S t u d y i n g a t S t a n f o r d , I b e g a n t o t h i n k s e r i o u s l y a b o u t c l a s s d i f f e r e n c e s . T o b e m a t e r i a l l y u n d e r p r i v i l e g e d a t a u n i v e r s i t y w h e r e m o s t f o l k s ( w i t h t h e e x c e p t i o n o f w o r k e r s ) a r e m a t e r i a l l y p r i v i – l e g e d p r o v o k e s s u c h t h o u g h t . C l a s s d i f f e r e n c e s w e r e b o u n d a r i e s n o o n e w a n t e d t o f a c e o r t a l k a b o u t . I t w a s e a s i e r t o d o w n p l a y t h e m , t o a c t a s t h o u g h w e w e r e a l l f r o m p r i v i l e g e d b a c k g r o u n d s , t o w o r k a r o u n d t h e m , t o c o n f r o n t t h e m p r i v a t e l y i n t h e s o l i t u d e o f o n e ‘ s r o o m , o r t o p r e t e n d t h a t j u s t b e i n g c h o s e n t o s t u d y a t s u c h a n i n s t i t u t i o n m e a n t t h a t t h o s e o f u s w h o d i d n o t c o m e f r o m p r i v – i l e g e w e r e a l r e a d y i n t r a n s i t i o n t o w a r d p r i v i l e g e . T o n o t l o n g f o r s u c h t r a n s i t i o n m a r k e d o n e a s r e b e l l i o u s , a s u n l i k e l y t o s u c c e e d . I t w a s a k i n d o f t r e a s o n n o t t o b e l i e v e t h a t i t w a s b e t t e r t o b e i d e n t i – f i e d w i t h t h e w o r l d o f m a t e r i a l p r i v i l e g e t h a n w i t h t h e w o r l d o f t h e w o r k i n g c l a s s , t h e p o o r . N o w o n d e r o u r w o r k i n g – c l a s s p a r e n t s f r o m p o o r b a c k g r o u n d s f e a r e d o u r e n t r y i n t o s u c h a w o r l d , i n t u i t – i n g p e r h a p s t h a t w e m i g h t l e a r n t o b e a s h a m e d o f w h e r e w e h a d c o m e f r o m , t h a t w e m i g h t n e v e r r e t u r n h o m e , o r c o m e b a c k o n l y t o l o r d i t o v e r t h e m .

T h o u g h I h u n g w i t h s t u d e n t s w h o w e r e s u p p o s e d l y r a d i c a l a n d c h i c , w e d i d n o t d i s c u s s c l a s s . I t a l k e d t o n o o n e a b o u t t h e s o u r c e s o f m y s h a m e , h o w i t h u r t m e t o w i t n e s s t h e c o n t e m p t s h o w n t h e b r o w n – s k i n n e d F i l i p i n a m a i d s w h o c l e a n e d o u r r o o m s , o r l a t e r m y c o n c e r n a b o u t t h e $ 1 0 0 a m o n t h I p a i d f o r a r o o m o f f – c a m p u s w h i c h w a s m o r e t h a n h a l f o f w h a t m y p a r e n t s p a i d f o r r e n t . I t a l k e d t o n o o n e a b o u t m y e f f o r t s t o s a v e m o n e y , t o s e n d a l i t t l e s o m e t h i n g h o m e . Y e t t h e s e c l a s s r e a l i t i e s s e p a r a t e d m e f r o m

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f e l l o w s t u d e n t s . W e w e r e m o v i n g i n d i f f e r e n t d i r e c t i o n s . I d i d n o t i n t e n d t o f o r g e t m y c l a s s b a c k g r o u n d o r a l t e r m y c l a s s a l l e g i a n c e . A n d e v e n t h o u g h I r e c e i v e d a n e d u c a t i o n d e s i g n e d t o p r o v i d e m e w i t h a b o u r g e o i s s e n s i b i l i t y , p a s s i v e a c q u i e s c e n c e w a s n o t m y o n l y o p t i o n . I k n e w t h a t I c o u l d r e s i s t . I c o u l d r e b e l . 1 c o u l d s h a p e t h e d i r e c t i o n a n d f o c u s o f t h e v a r i o u s f o r m s o f k n o w l e d g e a v a i l a b l e t o m e . E v e n t h o u g h I s o m e t i m e s e n v i e d a n d l o n g e d f o r g r e a t e r m a – t e r i a l a d v a n t a g e s ( p a r t i c u l a r l y a t v a c a t i o n t i m e s w h e n I w o u l d b e o n e o f f e w i f a n y s t u d e n t s r e m a i n i n g i n t h e d o r m i t o r y b e c a u s e t h e r e w a s n o m o n e y f o r t r a v e l ) , I d i d n o t s h a r e t h e s e n s i b i l i t y a n d v a l u e s o f m y p e e r s . T h a t w a s i m p o r t a n t — c l a s s w a s n o t j u s t a b o u t m o n e y ; i t w a s a b o u t v a l u e s w h i c h s h o w e d a n d d e t e r m i n e d b e – h a v i o r . W h i l e I o f t e n n e e d e d m o r e m o n e y , I n e v e r n e e d e d a n e w s e t o f b e l i e f s a n d v a l u e s . F o r e x a m p l e , I w a s p r o f o u n d l y s h o c k e d a n d d i s t u r b e d w h e n p e e r s w o u l d t a l k a b o u t t h e i r p a r e n t s w i t h o u t r e s p e c t , o r w o u l d e v e n s a y t h a t t h e y h a t e d t h e i r p a r e n t s . T h i s w a s e s p e c i a l l y t r o u b l i n g t o m e w h e n i t s e e m e d t h a t t h e s e p a r e n t s w e r e c a r i n g a n d c o n c e r n e d . I t w a s o f t e n e x p l a i n e d t o m e t h a t s u c h h a – t r e d w a s ” h e a l t h y a n d n o r m a l . ” T o m y w h i t e , m i d d l e – c l a s s C a l i – f o r n i a r o o m m a t e , I e x p l a i n e d t h e w a y w e w e r e t a u g h t t o v a l u e o u r p a r e n t s a n d t h e i r c a r e , t o u n d e r s t a n d t h a t t h e y w e r e n o t o b l i – g a t e d t o g i v e u s c a r e . S h e w o u l d a l w a y s s h a k e h e r h e a d , l a u g h i n g a l l t h e w h i l e , a n d s a y , ” M i s s y , y o u w i l l l e a r n t h a t i t ‘ s d i f f e r e n t h e r e , t h a t w e t h i n k d i f f e r e n t l y . ” S h e w a s r i g h t . S o o n , 1 l i v e d a l o n e , l i k e t h e o n e M o r m o n s t u d e n t w h o k e p t t o h i m s e l f a s h e m a d e a c o n c e n t r a t e d e f f o r t t o r e m a i n t r u e t o h i s r e l i g i o u s b e l i e f s a n d v a l – u e s . L a t e r i n g r a d u a t e s c h o o l I f o u n d t h a t c l a s s m a t e s b e l i e v e d ” l o w e r c l a s s ” p e o p l e h a d n o b e l i e f s a n d v a l u e s . I w a s s i l e n t i n s u c h d i s c u s s i o n s , d i s g u s t e d b y t h e i r i g n o r a n c e .

C a r o l S t a c k ‘ s a n t h r o p o l o g i c a l s t u d y . All Our Kin, w a s o n e o f t h e f i r s t b o o k s I r e a d w h i c h c o n f i r m e d m y e x p e r i e n t i a l u n d e r – s t a n d i n g t h a t w i t h i n b l a c k c u l t u r e ( e s p e c i a l l y a m o n g t h e w o r k i n g c l a s s a n d p o o r , p a r t i c u l a r l y i n s o u t h e r n s t a t e s ) , a v a l u e s y s t e m e m e r g e d t h a t w a s c o u n t e r – h e g e m o n i c , t h a t c h a l l e n g e d n o t i o n s o f i n d i v i d u a l i s m a n d p r i v a t e p r o p e r t y s o i m p o r t a n t t o t h e m a i n t e – n a n c e o f w h i t e – s u p r e m a c i s t , c a p i t a l i s t p a t r i a r c h y . B l a c k f o l k c r e – a t e d i n m a r g i n a l s p a c e s a w o r l d o f c o m m u n i t y a n d c o l l e c t i v i t y w h e r e r e s o u r c e s w e r e s h a r e d . I n t h e p r e f a c e t o Feminist Theory:

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from margin to center, I t a l k e d a b o u t h o w t h e p o i n t o f d i f f e r e n c e , t h i s m a r g i n a l i t y c a n b e t h e s p a c e f o r t h e f o r m a t i o n o f a n o p p o s i – t i o n a l w o r l d v i e w . T h a t w o r l d v i e w m u s t b e a r t i c u l a t e d , n a m e d i f i t i s t o p r o v i d e a s u s t a i n e d b l u e p r i n t f o r c h a n g e . U n f o r t u n a t e l y , t h e r e h a s e x i s t e d n o c o n s i s t e n t f r a m e w o r k f o r s u c h n a m i n g . C o n – s e q u e n t l y b o t h t h e e x p e r i e n c e o f t h i s d i f f e r e n c e a n d d o c u m e n t a – t i o n o f i t ( w h e n i t o c c u r s ) g r a d u a l l y l o s e s p r e s e n c e a n d m e a n i n g .

M u c h o f w h a t S t a c k d o c u m e n t e d a b o u t t h e ” c u l t u r e o f p o v e r t y , ” f o r e x a m p l e , w o u l d n o t d e s c r i b e i n t e r a c t i o n s a m o n g m o s t b l a c k p o o r t o d a y i r r e s p e c t i v e o f g e o g r a p h i c a l s e t t i n g . S i n c e t h e b l a c k p e o p l e s h e d e s c r i b e d d i d n o t a c k n o w l e d g e ( i f t h e y r e c o g – n i z e d i t i n t h e o r e t i c a l t e r m s ) t h e o p p o s i t i o n a l v a l u e o f t h e i r w o r l d v i e w , a p p a r e n t l y s e e i n g i t m o r e a s a s u r v i v a l s t r a t e g y d e t e r m i n e d l e s s b y c o n s c i o u s e f f o r t s t o o p p o s e o p p r e s s i v e r a c e a n d c l a s s b i – a s e s t h a n b y c i r c u m s t a n c e , t h e y d i d n o t a t t e m p t t o e s t a b l i s h a f r a m e w o r k t o t r a n s m i t t h e i r b e l i e f s a n d v a l u e s f r o m g e n e r a t i o n t o g e n e r a t i o n . W h e n c i r c u m s t a n c e s c h a n g e d , v a l u e s a l t e r e d . E f f o r t s t o a s s i m i l a t e t h e v a l u e s a n d b e l i e f s o f p r i v i l e g e d w h i t e p e o p l e , p r e s e n t e d t h r o u g h m e d i a l i k e t e l e v i s i o n , u n d e r m i n e a n d d e s t r o y p o t e n t i a l s t r u c t u r e s o f o p p o s i t i o n .

I n c r e a s i n g l y , y o u n g b l a c k p e o p l e a r e e n c o u r a g e d b y t h e d o m – i n a n t c u l t u r e ( a n d b y t h o s e b l a c k p e o p l e w h o i n t e r n a h z e t h e v a l – u e s o f t h i s h e g e m o n y ) t o b e l i e v e t h a t a s s i m i l a t i o n i s t h e o n l y p o s s i b l e w a y t o s u r v i v e , t o s u c c e e d . W i t h o u t t h e f r a m e w o r k o f a n o r g a n i z e d c i v i l r i g h t s o r b l a c k r e s i s t a n c e s t r u g g l e , i n d i v i d u a l a n d c o l l e c t i v e e f f o r t s a t b l a c k l i b e r a t i o n t h a t f o c u s o n t h e p r i m a c y o f s e l f – d e f i n i t i o n a n d s e l f – d e t e r m i n a t i o n o f t e n g o u n r e c o g n i z e d . I t i s c r u c i a l t h a t t h o s e a m o n g u s w h o r e s i s t a n d r e b e l , w h o s u r v i v e a n d s u c c e e d , s p e a k o p e n l y a n d h o n e s t l y a b o u t o u r l i v e s a n d t h e n a – t u r e o f o u r p e r s o n a l s t r u g g l e s , t h e m e a n s b y w h i c h w e r e s o l v e a n d r e c o n c i l e c o n t r a d i c t i o n s . T h i s i s n o e a s y t a s k . W i t h i n t h e e d u c a – t i o n a l i n s t i t u t i o n s w h e r e w e l e a r n t o d e v e l o p a n d s t r e n g t h e n o u r w r i t i n g a n d a n a l y t i c a l s k i l l s , w e a l s o l e a r n t o t h i n k , w r i t e , a n d t a l k i n a m a n n e r t h a t s h i f t s a t t e n t i o n a w a y f r o m p e r s o n a l e x p e r i e n c e . Y e t i f w e a r e t o r e a c h o u r p e o p l e a n d a l l p e o p l e , i f w e a r e t o r e – m a i n c o n n e c t e d ( e s p e c i a l l y t h o s e o f u s w h o s e f a m i l i a l b a c k – g r o u n d s a r e p o o r a n d w o r k i n g – c l a s s ) , w e m u s t u n d e r s t a n d t h a t

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t h e t e l h n g o f o n e ‘ s p e r s o n a l s t o r y p r o v i d e s a m e a n i n g f u l e x a m p l e , a w a y f o r f o l k s t o i d e n t i f y a n d c o n n e c t .

C o m b i n i n g p e r s o n a l w i t h c r i t i c a l a n a l y s i s a n d t h e o r e t i c a l p e r – s p e c t i v e s c a n e n g a g e l i s t e n e r s w h o m i g h t o t h e r w i s e f e e l e s t r a n g e d , a l i e n a t e d . T o s p e a k s i m p l y w i t h l a n g u a g e t h a t i s a c c e s s i b l e t o a s m a n y f o l k s a s p o s s i b l e i s a l s o i m p o r t a n t . S p e a k i n g a b o u t o n e ‘ s p e r s o n a l e x p e r i e n c e o r s p e a k i n g w i t h s i m p l e l a n g u a g e i s o f t e n c o n s i d e r e d b y a c a d e m i c s a n d / o r i n t e l l e c t u a l s ( i r r e s p e c t i v e o f t h e i r p o l i t i c a l i n c l i n a t i o n s ) t o b e a s i g n o f i n t e l l e c t u a l w e a k n e s s o r e v e n a n t i – i n t e l l e c t u a l i s m . L a t e l y , w h e n I s p e a k , I d o n o t s t a n d i n p l a c e — r e a d i n g m y p a p e r , m a k i n g l i t t l e o r n o e y e c o n t a c t w i t h a u – d i e n c e s — b u t i n s t e a d m a k e e y e c o n t a c t , t a l k e x t e m p o r a n e o u s l y , d i g r e s s , a n d a d d r e s s t h e a u d i e n c e d i r e c t l y . I h a v e b e e n t o l d t h a t p e o p l e a s s u m e I a m n o t p r e p a r e d , t h a t I a m a n t i – i n t e l l e c t u a l , u n – p r o f e s s i o n a l ( a c o n c e p t t h a t h a s e v e r y t h i n g t o d o w i t h c l a s s a s i t d e t e r m i n e s a c t i o n s a n d b e h a v i o r ) , o r t h a t I a m r e i n f o r c i n g t h e s t e r e o t y p e o f b l a c k p e o p l e a s n o n – t h e o r e t i c a l a i r d g u t s y .

S u c h c r i t i c i s m w a s r a i s e d r e c e n t l y b y f e l l o w f e m i n i s t s c h o l a r s a f t e r a t a l k I g a v e a t N o r t h w e s t e r n U n i v e r s i t y a t a c o n f e r e n c e o n ” G e n d e r , C u l t u r e , P o l i t i c s ” t o a n a u d i e n c e t h a t w a s m a i n l y s t u – d e n t s a n d a c a d e m i c s . I d e l i b e r a t e l y c h o s e t o s p e a k i n a v e r y b a s i c w a y , t h i n k i n g e s p e c i a l l y a b o u t t h e f e w c o m m u n i t y f o l k s w h o h a d c o m e t o h e a r m e . W e e k s l a t e r , K u m – K u m S a n g a r i , a f e l l o w p a r t i c – i p a n t w h o s h a r e d w i t h m e w h a t w a s s a i d w h e n I w a s n o l o n g e r p r e s e n t , a n d I e n g a g e d i n q u i t e r i g o r o u s c r i t i c a l d i a l o g u e a b o u t t h e w a y m y p r e s e n t a t i o n h a d b e e n p e r c e i v e d p r i m a r i l y b y p r i v i – l e g e d w h i t e f e m a l e a c a d e m i c s . S h e w a s c o n c e r n e d t h a t I n o t m a s k m y k n o w l e d g e o f t h e o r y , t h a t I n o t a p p e a r a n t i – i n t e l l e c t u a l . H e r c r i t i q u e c o m p e l l e d m e t o a r t i c u l a t e c o n c e r n s t h a t I a m o f t e n s i l e n t a b o u t w i t h c o l l e a g u e s . I s p o k e a b o u t c l a s s a l l e g i a n c e a n d r e v o l u – t i o n a r y c o m m i t m e n t s , e x p l a i n i n g t h a t i t w a s d i s t u r b i n g t o m e t h a t i n t e l l e c t u a l r a d i c a l s w h o s p e a k a b o u t t r a n s f o r m i n g s o c i e t y , e n d – i n g t h e d o m i n a t i o n o f r a c e , s e x , c l a s s , c a n n o t b r e a k w i t h b e h a v i o r p a t t e r n s t h a t r e i n f o r c e a n d p e r p e t u a t e d o m i n a t i o n , o r c o n t i n u e t o u s e a s t h e i r s o l e r e f e r e n c e p o i n t h o w w e m i g h t b e o r a r e p e r c e i v e d b y t h o s e w h o d o m i n a t e , w h e t h e r o r n o t w e g a i n t h e i r a c c e p t a n c e a n d a p p r o v a l .

106 Chapter 2 Education and Learning

T h i s i s a p r i m a r y c o n t r a d i c t i o n w h i c h r a i s e s t h e i s s u e o f w h e t h e r o r n o t t h e a c a d e m i c s e t t i n g i s a p l a c e w h e r e o n e c a n b e t r u l y r a d i c a l o r s u b v e r s i v e . C o n c u r r e n t l y , t h e u s e o f a l a n g u a g e a n d s t y l e o f p r e s e n t a t i o n t h a t a l i e n a t e m o s t f o l k s w h o a r e n o t a l s o a c a d e m i c a l l y t r a i n e d r e i n f o r c e s t h e n o t i o n t h a t t h e a c a d e m i c w o r l d i s s e p a r a t e f r o m r e a l l i f e , t h a t e v e r y d a y w o r l d w h e r e w e c o n s t a n t l y a d j u s t o u r l a n g u a g e a n d b e h a v i o r t o m e e t d i v e r s e n e e d s . T h e a c a d e m i c s e t t i n g i s s e p a r a t e o n l y w h e n w e w o r k t o m a k e i t s o . I t i s a f a l s e d i c h o t o m y w h i c h s u g g e s t s t h a t a c a d e m i c s a n d / o r i n t e l l e c t u a l s c a n o n l y s p e a k t o o n e a n o t h e r , t h a t w e c a n n o t h o p e t o s p e a k w i t h t h e m a s s e s . W h a t i s t r u e i s t h a t w e m a k e c h o i c e s , t h a t w e c h o o s e o u r a u d i e n c e s , t h a t w e c h o o s e v o i c e s t o h e a r a n d v o i c e s t o s i l e n c e . I f I d o n o t s p e a k i n a l a n g u a g e t h a t c a n b e u n d e r s t o o d , t h e n t h e r e i s l i t t l e c h a n c e f o r d i a l o g u e . T h i s i s s u e o f l a n g u a g e a n d b e h a v i o r i s a c e n t r a l c o n t r a d i c t i o n a l l r a d i c a l i n – t e l l e c t u a l s , p a r t i c u l a r l y t h o s e w h o a r e m e m b e r s o f o p p r e s s e d g r o u p s , m u s t c o n t i n u a l l y c o n f r o n t a n d w o r k t o r e s o l v e . O n e o f t h e c l e a r a n d p r e s e n t d a n g e r s t h a t e x i s t s w h e n w e m o v e o u t s i d e o u r c l a s s o f o r i g i n , o u r c o l l e c t i v e e t h n i c e x p e r i e n c e , a n d e n t e r h i e r a r – c h i c a l i n s t i t u t i o n s w h i c h d a i l y r e i n f o r c e d o m i n a t i o n b y r a c e , s e x , a n d c l a s s , i s t h a t w e g r a d u a l l y a s s u m e a m i n d s e t s i m i l a r t o t h o s e w h o d o m i n a t e a n d o p p r e s s , t h a t w e l o s e c r i t i c a l c o n s c i o u s n e s s b e – c a u s e i t i s n o t r e i n f o r c e d o r a f f i r m e d b y t h e e n v i r o n m e n t . W e m u s t b e e v e r v i g i l a n t . I t i s i m p o r t a n t t h a t w e k n o w w h o w e a r e s p e a k – i n g t o , w h o w e m o s t w a n t t o h e a r u s , w h o w e m o s t l o n g t o m o v e , m o t i v a t e , a n d t o u c h w i t h o u r w o r d s .

W h e n I f i r s t c a m e t o N e w H a v e n t o t e a c h a t Y a l e , I w a s t r u l y s u r p r i s e d b y t h e m a r k e d c l a s s d i v i s i o n s b e t w e e n b l a c k f o l k s — s t u – d e n t s a n d p r o f e s s o r s — w h o i d e n t i f y w i t h Y a l e a n d t h o s e b l a c k f o l k s w h o w o r k a t Y a l e o r i n s u r r o u n d i n g c o m m u n i t i e s . S t y l e o f d r e s s a n d s e l f – p r e s e n t a t i o n a r e m o s t o f t e n t h e c e n t r a l m a r k e r s o f o n e ‘ s p o s i t i o n . I s o o n l e a r n e d t h a t t h e b l a c k f o l k s w h o s p o k e o n t h e s t r e e t w e r e l i k e l y t o b e p a r t o f t h e b l a c k c o m m u n i t y a n d t h o s e w h o c a r e f u l l y s h i f t e d t h e i r g l a n c e w e r e l i k e l y t o b e a s s o c i a t e d w i t h Y a l e . W a l k i n g w i t h a b l a c k f e m a l e c o l l e a g u e o n e d a y , 1 s p o k e t o p r a c t i c a l l y e v e r y b l a c k p e r s o n i n s i g h t ( a g e s t u r e w h i c h r e f l e c t s m y u p b r i n g i n g ) , a n a c t i o n w h i c h d i s t u r b e d m y c o m p a n i o n . S i n c e I a d d r e s s e d b l a c k f o l k w h o w e r e c l e a r l y n o t a s s o c i a t e d w i t h Y a l e ,

keeping close to home: class and education bell hooks 107

s h e w a n t e d t o k n o w w h e t h e r o r n o t 1 k n e w t h e m . T h a t w a s f u n n y t o m e . ” O f c o u r s e n o t , ” I a n s w e r e d . Y e t w h e n 1 t h o u g h t a b o u t i t s e r i o u s l y , I r e a l i z e d t h a t i n a d e e p w a y , I k n e w t h e m f o r t h e y , a n d n o t m y c o m p a n i o n o r m o s t o f m y c o l l e a g u e s a t Y a l e , r e s e m b l e m y f a m i l y . L a t e r t h a t y e a r , i n a b l a c k w o m e n ‘ s s u p p o r t g r o u p 1 s t a r t e d f o r u n d e r g r a d u a t e s , s t u d e n t s f r o m p o o r b a c k g r o u n d s s p o k e a b o u t t h e s h a m e t h e y s o m e t i m e s f e e l w h e n f a c e d w i t h t h e r e a l i t y o f t h e i r c o n n e c t i o n t o w o r k i n g – c l a s s a n d p o o r b l a c k p e o p l e . O n e s t u d e n t c o n f e s s e d t h a t h e r f a t h e r i s a s t r e e t p e r s o n , a d d i c t e d t o d r u g s , s o m e o n e w h o b e g s f r o m p a s s e r s b y . S h e , l i k e o t h e r Y a l e s t u d e n t s , t u r n s a w a y f r o m s t r e e t p e o p l e o f t e n , s o m e t i m e s s h o w i n g a n g e r o r c o n t e m p t ; s h e h a s n ‘ t w a n t e d a n y o n e t o k n o w t h a t s h e w a s r e l a t e d t o t h i s k i n d o f p e r s o n . S h e s t r u g g l e s w i t h t h i s , w a n t i n g t o f i n d a w a y t o a c k n o w l e d g e a n d a f f i r m t h i s r e a l i t y t o c l a i m t h i s c o n n e c – t i o n . T h e g r o u p a s k e d m e a n d o n e a n o t h e r w h a t w e d o t o r e m a i n c o n n e c t e d , t o h o n o r t h e b o n d s w e h a v e w i t h w o r k i n g – c l a s s a n d p o o r p e o p l e e v e n a s o u r c l a s s e x p e r i e n c e a l t e r s .

M a i n t a i n i n g c o n n e c t i o n s w i t h f a m i l y a n d c o m m u n i t y a c r o s s c l a s s b o u n d a r i e s d e m a n d s m o r e t h a n j u s t s u m m a r y r e c a l l o f w h e r e o n e ‘ s r o o t s a r e , w h e r e o n e c o m e s f r o m . I t r e q u i r e s k n o w i n g , n a m – i n g , a n d b e i n g e v e r – m i n d f u l o f t h o s e a s p e c t s o f o n e ‘ s p a s t t h a t h a v e e n a b l e d a n d d o e n a b l e o n e ‘ s s e l f – d e v e l o p m e n t i n t h e p r e s – e n t , t h a t s u s t a i n a n d s u p p o r t , t h a t e n r i c h . O n e m u s t a l s o h o n e s t l y c o n f r o n t b a r r i e r s t h a t d o e x i s t , a s p e c t s o f t h a t p a s t t h a t d o d i m i n – i s h . M y p a r e n t ‘ s a m b i v a l e n c e a b o u t m y l o v e f o r r e a d i n g l e d t o i n – t e n s e c o n f l i c t . T h e y ( e s p e c i a l l y m y m o t h e r ) w o u l d w o r k t o e n s u r e t h a t I h a d a c c e s s t o b o o k s , b u t w o u l d t h r e a t e n t o b u r n t h e b o o k s o r t h r o w t h e m a w a y i f I d i d n o t c o n f o r m t o o t h e r e x p e c t a t i o n s . O r t h e y w o u l d i n s i s t t h a t r e a d i n g t o o m u c h w o u l d d r i v e m e i n s a n e . T h e i r a m b i v a l e n c e n u r t u r e d i n m e a l i k e u n c e r t a i n t y a b o u t t h e v a l u e a n d s i g n i f i c a n c e o f i n t e l l e c t u a l e n d e a v o r w h i c h t o o k y e a r s f o r m e t o u n l e a r n . W h i l e t h i s a s p e c t o f o u r c l a s s r e a l i t y w a s o n e t h a t w o u n d e d a n d d i m i n i s h e d , t h e i r v i g i l a n t i n s i s t e n c e t h a t b e i n g s m a r t d i d n o t m a k e m e a ” b e t t e r ” o r ” s u p e r i o r ” p e r s o n ( w h i c h o f – t e n g o t o n m y n e r v e s b e c a u s e I t h i n k I w a n t e d t o h a v e t h a t s e n s e t h a t i t d i d i n d e e d s e t m e a p a r t , m a k e m e b e t t e r ) m a d e a p r o f o u n d i m p r e s s i o n . F r o m t h e m I l e a r n e d t o v a l u e a n d r e s p e c t v a r i o u s s k i l l s a n d t a l e n t s f o l k m i g h t h a v e , n o t j u s t t o v a l u e p e o p l e w h o

108 Chapter 2 Education and Learning

r e a d b o o k s a n d t a l k a b o u t i d e a s . T h e y a n d m y g r a n d p a r e n t s m i g h t s a y a b o u t s o m e b o d y , ” N o w h e d o n ‘ t r e a d n o r w r i t e a l i c k , b u t h e c a n t e l l a s t o r y , ” o r a s m y g r a n d m o t h e r w o u l d s a y , ” c a l l o u t t h e h e l l i n w o r d s . “

E m p t y r o m a n t i c i z a t i o n o f p o o r o r w o r k i n g – c l a s s b a c k g r o u n d s u n d e r m i n e s t h e p o s s i b i l i t y o f t r u e c o n n e c t i o n . S u c h c o n n e c t i o n i s b a s e d o n u n d e r s t a n d i n g d i f f e r e n c e i n e x p e r i e n c e a n d p e r s p e c t i v e a n d w o r k i n g t o m e d i a t e a n d n e g o t i a t e t h e s e t e r r a i n s . L a n g u a g e i s a c r u c i a l i s s u e f o r f o l k w h o s e m o v e m e n t o u t s i d e t h e b o u n d a r i e s o f p o o r a n d w o r k i n g – c l a s s b a c k g r o u n d s c h a n g e s t h e n a t u r e a n d d i – r e c t i o n o f t h e i r s p e e c h . C o m i n g t o S t a n f o r d w i t h m y o w n v e r s i o n o f a K e n t u c k y a c c e n t , w h i c h 1 t h i n k o f a l w a y s a s a s t r o n g s o u n d q u i t e d i f f e r e n t f r o m T e n n e s s e e o r G e o r g i a s p e e c h , I l e a r n e d t o s p e a k d i f f e r e n t l y w h i l e m a i n t a i n i n g t h e s p e e c h o f m y r e g i o n , t h e s o u n d o f m y f a m i l y a n d c o m m u n i t y . T h i s w a s o f c o u r s e m u c h e a s – i e r t o k e e p u p w h e n I r e t u r n e d h o m e t o s t a y o f t e n . I n r e c e n t y e a r s , I h a v e e n d e a v o r e d t o u s e v a r i o u s s p e a k i n g s t y l e s i n t h e c l a s s r o o m a s a t e a c h e r a n d f i n d i t d i s c o n c e r t s t h o s e w h o f e e l t h a t t h e u s e o f a p a r t i c u l a r p a t o i s e x c l u d e s t h e m a s l i s t e n e r s , e v e n i f t h e r e i s t r a n s – l a t i o n i n t o t h e u s u a l , a c c e p t a b l e m o d e o f s p e e c h . L e a r n i n g t o l i s – t e n t o d i f f e r e n t v o i c e s , h e a r i n g d i f f e r e n t s p e e c h c h a l l e n g e s t h e n o t i o n t h a t w e m u s t a l l a s s i m i l a t e — s h a r e a s i n g l e , s i m i l a r t a l k — i n e d u c a t i o n a l i n s t i t u t i o n s . L a n g u a g e r e f l e c t s t h e c u l t u r e f r o m w h i c h w e e m e r g e . T o d e n y o u r s e l v e s d a i l y u s e o f s p e e c h p a t t e r n s t h a t a r e c o m m o n a n d f a m i l i a r , t h a t e m b o d y t h e u n i q u e a n d d i s – t i n c t i v e a s p e c t o f o u r s e l f i s o n e o f t h e w a y s w e b e c o m e e s t r a n g e d a n d a l i e n a t e d f r o m o u r p a s t . I t i s i m p o r t a n t f o r u s t o h a v e a s m a n y l a n g u a g e s o n h a n d a s w e c a n k n o w o r l e a r n . I t i s i m p o r t a n t f o r t h o s e o f u s w h o a r e b l a c k , w h o s p e a k i n p a r t i c u l a r p a t o i s a s w e l l a s s t a n d a r d E n g l i s h t o e x p r e s s o u r s e l v e s i n b o t h w a y s .

O f t e n I t e l l s t u d e n t s f r o m p o o r a n d w o r k i n g – c l a s s b a c k g r o u n d s t h a t i f y o u b e l i e v e w h a t y o u h a v e l e a r n e d a n d a r e l e a r n i n g i n s c h o o l s a n d u n i v e r s i t i e s s e p a r a t e s y o u f r o m y o u r p a s t , t h i s i s p r e – c i s e l y w h a t w i l l h a p p e n . I t i s i m p o r t a n t t o s t a n d f i r m i n t h e c o n – v i c t i o n t h a t n o t h i n g c a n t r u l y s e p a r a t e u s f r o m o u r p a s t s w h e n w e n u r t u r e a n d c h e r i s h t h a t c o n n e c t i o n . A n i m p o r t a n t s t r a t e g y f o r m a i n t a i n i n g c o n t a c t i s o n g o i n g a c k n o w l e d g e m e n t o f t h e p r i m a c y o f o n e ‘ s p a s t , o f o n e ‘ s b a c k g r o u n d , a f f i r m i n g t h e r e a l i t y t h a t s u c h

keeping close to home: class and education bell hooks 109

b o n d s a r e n o t s e v e r e d a u t o m a t i c a l l y s o l e l y b e c a u s e o n e e n t e r s a n e w e n v i r o n m e n t o r m o v e s t o w a r d a d i f f e r e n t c l a s s e x p e r i e n c e .

A g a i n , I d o n o t w i s h t o r o m a n t i c i z e t h i s e f f o r t , t o d i s m i s s t h e r e a l i t y o f c o n f l i c t a n d c o n t r a d i c t i o n . D u r i n g m y t i m e a t S t a n f o r d , I d i d g o t h r o u g h a p e r i o d o f m o r e t h a n a y e a r w h e n I d i d n o t r e t u r n h o m e . T h a t p e r i o d w a s o n e w h e r e I f e l t t h a t i t w a s s i m p l y t o o d i f – f i c u l t t o m e s h m y p r o f o u n d l y d i s p a r a t e r e a l i t i e s . C r i t i c a l r e f l e c t i o n a b o u t t h e c h o i c e 1 w a s m a k i n g , p a r t i c u l a r l y a b o u t w h y 1 f e l t a c h o i c e h a d t o b e m a d e , p u l l e d m e t h r o u g h t h i s d i f f i c u l t t i m e . L u c k – i l y 1 r e c o g n i z e d t h a t t h e i n s i s t e n c e o n c h o o s i n g b e t w e e n t h e w o r l d o f f a m i l y a n d c o m m u n i t y a n d t h e n e w w o r l d o f p r i v i l e g e d w h i t e p e o p l e a n d p r i v i l e g e d w a y s o f k n o w i n g w a s i m p o s e d u p o n m e b y t h e o u t s i d e . I t i s a s t h o u g h a m y t h i c a l c o n t r a c t h a d b e e n s i g n e d s o m e w h e r e w h i c h d e m a n d e d o f u s b l a c k f o l k s t h a t o n c e w e e n – t e r e d t h e s e s p h e r e s w e w o u l d i m m e d i a t e l y g i v e u p a l l v e s t i g e s o f o u r u n d e r p r i v i l e g e d p a s t . I t w a s m y r e s p o n s i b i l i t y t o f o r m u l a t e a w a y o f b e i n g t h a t w o u l d a l l o w m e t o p a r t i c i p a t e f u l l y i n m y n e w e n v i r o n m e n t w h i l e i n t e g r a t i n g a n d m a i n t a i n i n g a s p e c t s o f t h e o l d .

O n e o f t h e m o s t t r a g i c m a n i f e s t a t i o n s o f t h e p r e s s u r e b l a c k p e o p l e f e e l t o a s s i m i l a t e i s e x p r e s s e d i n t h e i n t e r n a l i z a t i o n o f r a c i s t p e r s p e c t i v e s . I w a s s h o c k e d a n d s a d d e n e d w h e n I f i r s t h e a r d b l a c k p r o f e s s o r s a t S t a n f o r d d o w n g r a d e a n d e x p r e s s c o n t e m p t f o r b l a c k s t u d e n t s , e x p e c t i n g u s t o d o p o o r l y , r e f u s i n g t o e s t a b l i s h n u r t u r i n g b o n d s . A t e v e r y u n i v e r s i t y 1 h a v e a t t e n d e d a s a s t u d e n t o r w o r k e d a t a s a t e a c h e r , I h a v e h e a r d s i m i l a r a t t i t u d e s e x p r e s s e d w i t h l i t t l e o r n o u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f f a c t o r s t h a t m i g h t p r e v e n t b r i l – l i a n t b l a c k s t u d e n t s f r o m p e r f o r m i n g t o t h e i r f u l l c a p a b i l i t y . W i t h – i n u n i v e r s i t i e s , t h e r e a r e f e w e d u c a t i o n a l a n d s o c i a l s p a c e s w h e r e s t u d e n t s w h o w i s h t o a f f i r m p o s i t i v e t i e s t o e t h n i c i t y — t o b l a c k – n e s s , t o w o r k i n g – c l a s s b a c k g r o u n d s — c a n r e c e i v e a f f i r m a t i o n a n d s u p p o r t . I d e o l o g i c a l l y , t h e m e s s a g e i s c l e a r — a s s i m i l a t i o n i s t h e w a y t o g a i n a c c e p t a n c e a n d a p p r o v a l f r o m t h o s e i n p o w e r .

M a n y w h i t e p e o p l e e n t h u s i a s t i c a l l y s u p p o r t e d R i c h a r d R o d r i g u e z ‘ s v e h e m e n t c o n t e n t i o n i n h i s a u t o b i o g r a p h y . Hunger of Memory, t h a t a t t e m p t s t o m a i n t a i n t i e s w i t h h i s C h i c a n o b a c k – g r o u n d i m p e d e d h i s p r o g r e s s , t h a t h e h a d t o s e v e r t i e s w i t h c o m – m u n i t y a n d k i n t o s u c c e e d a t S t a n f o r d a n d i n t h e l a r g e r w o r l d , t h a t f a m i l y l a n g u a g e , i n h i s c a s e S p a n i s h , h a d t o b e m a d e s e c o n d a r y o r

1 1 0 Chapter 2 Education and Learning

d i s c a r d e d . I f t h e t e r m s o f s u c c e s s a s d e f i n e d b y t h e s t a n d a r d s o f r u l i n g g r o u p s w i t h i n w h i t e – s u p r e m a c i s t , c a p i t a l i s t p a t r i a r c h y a r e t h e o n l y s t a n d a r d s t h a t e x i s t , t h e n a s s i m i l a t i o n i s i n d e e d n e c e s – s a r y . B u t t h e y a r e n o t . E v e n i n t h e f a c e o f p o w e r f u l s t r u c t u r e s o f d o m i n a t i o n , i t r e m a i n s p o s s i b l e f o r e a c h o f u s , e s p e c i a l l y t h o s e o f u s w h o a r e m e m b e r s o f o p p r e s s e d a n d / o r e x p l o i t e d g r o u p s a s w e l l a s t h o s e r a d i c a l v i s i o n a r i e s w h o m a y h a v e r a c e , c l a s s , a n d s e x p r i v i l e g e , t o d e f i n e a n d d e t e r m i n e a l t e r n a t i v e s t a n d a r d s , t o d e c i d e o n t h e n a t u r e a n d e x t e n t o f c o m p r o m i s e . S t a n d a r d s b y w h i c h o n e ‘ s s u c c e s s i s m e a s u r e d , w h e t h e r s t u d e n t o r p r o f e s s o r , a r e q u i t e d i f f e r e n t f o r t h o s e o f u s w h o w i s h t o r e s i s t r e i n f o r c i n g t h e d o m i n a – h o n o f r a c e , s e x , a n d c l a s s , w h o w o r k t o m a i n t a i n a n d s t r e n g t h e n o u r t i e s w i t h t h e o p p r e s s e d , w i t h t h o s e w h o l a c k m a t e r i a l p r i v i – l e g e , w i t h o u r f a m i l i e s w h o a r e p o o r a n d w o r k i n g – c l a s s .

W h e n 1 w r o t e m y f i r s t b o o k . Ain’t IA Woman: black women and feminism, t h e i s s u e o f c l a s s a n d i t s r e l a t i o n s h i p t o w h o o n e ‘ s r e a d – i n g a u d i e n c e m i g h t b e c a m e u p f o r m e a r o u n d m y d e c i s i o n n o t t o u s e f o o t n o t e s , f o r w h i c h I h a v e b e e n s h a r p l y c r i t i c i z e d . I t o l d p e o p l e t h a t m y c o n c e r n w a s t h a t f o o t n o t e s s e t c l a s s b o u n d a r i e s f o r r e a d e r s , d e t e r m i n i n g w h o a b o o k i s f o r . I w a s s h o c k e d t h a t m a n y a c a d e m i c f o l k s s c o f f e d a t t h i s i d e a . I s h a r e d t h a t I w e n t i n t o w o r k i n g – c l a s s b l a c k c o m m u n i t i e s a s w e l l a s t a l k e d w i t h f a m i l y a n d f r i e n d s t o s u r v e y w h e t h e r o r n o t t h e y e v e r r e a d b o o k s w i t h f o o t n o t e s a n d f o u n d t h a t t h e y d i d n o t . A f e w d i d n o t k n o w w h a t t h e y w e r e , b u t m o s t f o l k s s a w t h e m a s i n d i c a t i n g t h a t a b o o k w a s f o r c o l l e g e – e d u c a t e d p e o p l e . T h e s e r e s p o n s e s i n f l u e n c e d m y d e c i s i o n . W h e n s o m e o f m y m o r e r a d i c a l , c o l l e g e – e d u c a t e d f r i e n d s f r e a k e d o u t a b o u t t h e a b s e n c e o f f o o t n o t e s , I s e r i o u s l y q u e s t i o n e d h o w w e c o u l d e v e r i m a g i n e r e v o l u t i o n a r y t r a n s f o r m a t i o n o f s o c i e t y i f s u c h a s m a l l s h i f t i n d i r e c t i o n c o u l d b e v i e w e d a s t h r e a t e n i n g . O f c o u r s e , m a n y f o l k s w a r n e d t h a t t h e a b s e n c e o f f o o t n o t e s w o u l d m a k e t h e w o r k l e s s c r e d i b l e i n a c a d e m i c c i r c l e s . T h i s i n f o r m a t i o n a l s o h i g h l i g h t e d t h e w a y i n w h i c h c l a s s i n f o r m s o u r c h o i c e s . C e r – t a i n l y I d i d f e e l t h a t c h o o s i n g t o u s e s i m p l e l a n g u a g e , a b s e n c e o f f o o t n o t e s , e t c . w o u l d m e a n I w a s j e o p a r d i z i n g t h e p o s s i b i l i t y o f b e i n g t a k e n s e r i o u s l y i n a c a d e m i c c i r c l e s b u t t h e n t h i s w a s a p o – H t i c a l m a t t e r a n d a p o l i t i c a l d e c i s i o n . I t u t t e r l y d e l i g h t s m e t h a t t h i s h a s p r o v e n n o t t o b e t h e c a s e a n d t h a t t h e b o o k i s r e a d b y m a n y a c a d e m i c s a s w e l l a s b y p e o p l e w h o a r e n o t c o l l e g e – e d u c a t e d .

keeping close to home: class and education bell hooks 111

A l w a y s o u r f i r s t r e s p o n s e w h e n w e a r e m o t i v a t e d t o c o n f o r m o r c o m p r o m i s e w i t h i n s t r u c t u r e s t h a t r e i n f o r c e d o m i n a t i o n m u s t b e t o e n g a g e i n c r i t i c a l r e f l e c t i o n . O n l y b y c h a l l e n g i n g o u r s e l v e s t o p u s h a g a i n s t o p p r e s s i v e b o u n d a r i e s d o w e m a k e t h e r a d i c a l a l – t e r n a t i v e p o s s i b l e , e x p a n d i n g t h e r e a l m a n d s c o p e o f c r i t i c a l i n – q u i r y . U n l e s s w e s h a r e r a d i c a l s t r a t e g i e s , w a y s o f r e t h i n k i n g a n d r e v i s i o n i n g w i t h s t u d e n t s , w i t h k i n a n d c o m m u n i t y , w i t h a l a r g e r a u d i e n c e , w e r i s k p e r p e t u a t i n g t h e s t e r e o t y p e t h a t w e s u c c e e d b e – c a u s e w e a r e t h e e x c e p t i o n , d i f f e r e n t f r o m t h e r e s t o f o u r p e o p l e . S i n c e I l e f t h o m e a n d e n t e r e d c o l l e g e , I a m o f t e n a s k e d , u s u a l l y b y w h i t e p e o p l e , i f m y s i s t e r s a n d b r o t h e r s a r e a l s o h i g h a c h i e v e r s . A t t h e r o o t o f t h i s q u e s t i o n i s t h e l o n g i n g f o r r e i n f o r c e m e n t o f t h e b e – l i e f i n ” t h e e x c e p t i o n ” w h i c h e n a b l e s r a c e , s e x , a n d c l a s s b i a s e s t o r e m a i n i n t a c t . 1 a m c a r e f u l t o s e p a r a t e w h a t i t m e a n s t o b e e x c e p – t i o n a l f r o m a n o t i o n o f ” t h e e x c e p t i o n . “

F r e q u e n t l y I h e a r s m a r t b l a c k f o l k s , f r o m p o o r a n d w o r k i n g – c l a s s b a c k g r o u n d s , s t r e s s i n g t h e i r f r u s t r a t i o n t h a t a t t i m e s f a m i l y a n d c o m m u n i t y d o n o t r e c o g n i z e t h a t t h e y a r e e x c e p t i o n a l . A b – s e n c e o f p o s i t i v e a f f i r m a t i o n c l e a r l y d i m i n i s h e s t h e l o n g i n g t o e x c e l i n a c a d e m i c e n d e a v o r s . Y e t i t i s i m p o r t a n t t o d i s t i n g u i s h b e t w e e n t h e a b s e n c e o f b a s i c p o s i t i v e a f f i r m a t i o n a n d t h e l o n g i n g f o r c o n – t i n u e d r e i n f o r c e m e n t t h a t w e a r e s p e c i a l . U s u a l l y l i b e r a l w h i t e f o l k s w i l l w i l l i n g l y o f f e r c o n t i n u a l r e i n f o r c e m e n t o f u s a s e x c e p – t i o n s — a s s p e c i a l . T h i s c a n b e b o t h p a t r o n i z i n g a n d v e r y s e d u c – t i v e . S i n c e w e o f t e n w o r k i n s i t u a t i o n s w h e r e w e a r e i s o l a t e d f r o m o t h e r b l a c k f o l k s , w e c a n e a s i l y b e g i n t o f e e l t h a t e n c o u r a g e m e n t f r o m w h i t e p e o p l e i s t h e p r i m a r y o r o n l y s o u r c e o f s u p p o r t a n d r e c o g n i t i o n . G i v e n t h e i n t e r n a l i z a t i o n o f r a c i s m , i t i s e a s y t o v i e w t h i s s u p p o r t a s m o r e v a l i d a t i n g a n d l e g i t i m i z i n g t h a n s i m i l a r s u p – p o r t f r o m b l a c k p e o p l e . S t i l l , n o t h i n g t a k e s t h e p l a c e o f b e i n g v a l – u e d a n d a p p r e c i a t e d b y o n e ‘ s o w n , b y o n e ‘ s f a m i l y a n d c o m m u n i t y . W e s h a r e a m u t u a l a n d r e c i p r o c a l r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r a f f i r m i n g o n e a n o t h e r ‘ s s u c c e s s e s . S o m e t i m e s w e h a v e t o t a l k t o o u r f o l k s a b o u t t h e f a c t t h a t w e n e e d t h e i r o n g o i n g s u p p o r t a n d a f f i r m a t i o n , t h a t i t i s u n i q u e a n d s p e c i a l t o u s . I n s o m e c a s e s w e m a y n e v e r r e c e i v e d e s i r e d r e c o g n i t i o n a n d a c k n o w l e d g e m e n t o f s p e c i f i c a c h i e v e m e n t s f r o m k i n . R a t h e r t h a n s e e i n g t h i s a s a b a s i s f o r e s t r a n g e m e n t , f o r s e v e r i n g c o n n e c t i o n , i t i s u s e f u l t o e x p l o r e o t h e r s o u r c e s o f n o u r i s h m e n t a n d s u p p o r t .

112 Chapter 2 Education and Learning

I d o n o t k n o w t h a t m y m o t h e r ‘ s m o t h e r e v e r a c k n o w l e d g e d m y c o l l e g e e d u c a t i o n e x c e p t t o a s k m e o n c e , ” H o w c a n y o u l i v e s o f a r a w a y f r o m y o u r p e o p l e ? ” Y e t s h e g a v e m e s o u r c e s o f a f f i r m a – t i o n a n d n o u r i s h m e n t , s h a r i n g t h e l e g a c y o f h e r q u i l t – m a k i n g , o f f a m i l y h i s t o r y , o f h e r i n c r e d i b l e w a y w i t h w o r d s . R e c e n t l y , w h e n o u r f a t h e r r e t i r e d a f t e r m o r e t h a n t h i r t y y e a r s o f w o r k a s a j a n i t o r , I w a n t e d t o p a y t r i b u t e t o t h i s e x p e r i e n c e , t o i d e n t i f y h n k s b e t w e e n h i s w o r k a n d m y o w n a s w r i t e r a n d t e a c h e r . R e f l e c t i n g o n o u r f a m – i l y p a s t , I r e c a l l e d w a y s h e h a d b e e n a n i m p r e s s i v e e x a m p l e o f d i l i g e n c e a n d h a r d w o r k , a p p r o a c h i n g t a s k s w i t h a s e r i o u s n e s s o f c o n c e n t r a t i o n 1 w o r k t o m i r r o r a n d d e v e l o p , w i t h a d i s c i p l i n e I s t r u g g l e t o m a i n t a i n . S h a r i n g t h e s e t h o u g h t s w i t h h i m k e e p s u s c o n n e c t e d , n u r t u r e s o u r r e s p e c t f o r e a c h o t h e r , m a i n t a i n i n g a s p a c e , h o w e v e r l a r g e o r s m a l l , w h e r e w e c a n t a l k .

O p e n , h o n e s t c o m m u n i c a t i o n i s t h e m o s t i m p o r t a n t w a y w e m a i n t a i n r e l a t i o n s h i p s w i t h k i n a n d c o m m u n i t y a s o u r c l a s s e x – p e r i e n c e a n d b a c k g r o u n d s c h a n g e . I t i s a s v i t a l a s t h e s h a r i n g o f r e s o u r c e s . O f t e n f i n a n c i a l a s s i s t a n c e i s g i v e n i n c i r c u m s t a n c e s w h e r e t h e r e i s n o m e a n i n g f u l c o n t a c t . H o w e v e r h e l p f u l , t h i s c a n a l s o b e a n e x p r e s s i o n o f e s t r a n g e m e n t a n d a l i e n a t i o n . C o m m u n i – c a t i o n b e t w e e n b l a c k f o l k s f r o m v a r i o u s e x p e r i e n c e s o f m a t e r i a l p r i v i l e g e w a s m u c h e a s i e r w h e n w e w e r e a l l i n s e g r e g a t e d c o m – m u n i t i e s s h a r i n g c o m m o n e x p e r i e n c e s i n r e l a t i o n t o s o c i a l i n s t i t u – t i o n s . W i t h o u t t h i s g r o u n d i n g , w e m u s t w o r k t o m a i n t a i n t i e s , c o n n e c t i o n . W e m u s t a s s u m e g r e a t e r r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r m a k i n g a n d m a i n t a i n i n g c o n t a c t , c o n n e c t i o n s t h a t c a n s h a p e o u r i n t e l l e c – t u a l v i s i o n s a n d i n f o r m o u r r a d i c a l c o m m i t m e n t s .

T h e m o s t p o w e r f u l r e s o u r c e a n y o f u s c a n h a v e a s w e s t u d y a n d t e a c h i n u n i v e r s i t y s e t t i n g s i s f u l l u n d e r s t a n d i n g a n d a p p r e – c i a t i o n o f t h e r i c h n e s s , b e a u t y , a n d p r i m a c y o f o u r f a m i l i a l a n d c o m m u n i t y b a c k g r o u n d s . M a i n t a i n i n g a w a r e n e s s o f c l a s s d i f f e r – e n c e s , n u r t u r i n g t i e s w i t h t h e p o o r a n d w o r k i n g – c l a s s p e o p l e w h o a r e o u r m o s t i n t i m a t e k i n , o u r c o m r a d e s i n s t r u g g l e , t r a n s f o r m s a n d e n r i c h e s o u r i n t e l l e c t u a l e x p e r i e n c e . E d u c a t i o n a s t h e p r a c t i c e o f f r e e d o m b e c o m e s n o t a f o r c e w h i c h f r a g m e n t s o r s e p a r a t e s , b u t o n e t h a t b r i n g s u s c l o s e r , e x p a n d i n g o u r d e f i n i t i o n s o f h o m e a n d c o m m u n i t y .

1988

Claiming an Education Adrienne Rich 113

C l a i m i n g a n E d u c a t i o n A d r i e n n e Rich

§

1 F o r t h i s c o n v o c a t i o n , I p l a n n e d t o s e p a r a t e m y r e m a r k s i n t o t w o p a r t s : s o m e t h o u g h t s a b o u t y o u , t h e w o m e n s t u d e n t s h e r e , a n d s o m e t h o u g h t s a b o u t u s w h o t e a c h i n a w o m e n ‘ s c o l l e g e . B u t u l t i – m a t e l y , t h o s e t w o p a r t s a r e i n d i v i s i b l e . I f u n i v e r s i t y e d u c a t i o n m e a n s a n y t h i n g b e y o n d t h e p r o c e s s i n g o f h u m a n b e i n g s i n t o e x – p e c t e d r o l e s , t h r o u g h c r e d i t h o u r s , t e s t s , a n d g r a d e s ( a n d I b e h e v e t h a t i n a w o m e n ‘ s c o l l e g e e s p e c i a l l y i t might m e a n m u c h m o r e ) , i t i m p l i e s a n e t h i c a l a n d i n t e l l e c t u a l c o n t r a c t b e t w e e n t e a c h e r a n d s t u d e n t . T h i s c o n t r a c t m u s t r e m a i n i n t u i t i v e , d y n a m i c , u n w r i t t e n ; b u t w e m u s t t u r n t o i t a g a i n a n d a g a i n i f l e a r n i n g i s t o b e r e – c l a i m e d f r o m t h e d e p e r s o n a l i z i n g a n d c h e a p e n i n g p r e s s u r e s o f t h e p r e s e n t – d a y a c a d e m i c s c e n e .

2 T h e f i r s t t h i n g I w a n t t o s a y t o y o u w h o a r e s t u d e n t s , i s t h a t y o u c a n n o t a f f o r d t o t h i n k o f b e i n g h e r e t o receive a n e d u c a t i o n ; y o u w i l l d o m u c h b e t t e r t o t h i n k o f y o u r s e l v e s a s b e i n g h e r e t o claim o n e . O n e o f t h e d i c t i o n a r y d e f i n i t i o n s o f t h e v e r b ” t o c l a i m ” i s : to take as the rightful owner; to assert in the face of possible contra- diction. ” T o r e c e i v e ” i s to come into possession of; to act as receptacle or container for; to accept as authoritative or true. T h e d i f f e r e n c e i s t h a t b e t w e e n a c t i n g a n d b e i n g a c t e d – u p o n , a n d f o r w o m e n i t c a n l i t e r – a l l y m e a n t h e d i f f e r e n c e b e t w e e n l i f e a n d d e a t h .

3 O n e o f t h e d e v a s t a t i n g w e a k n e s s e s o f u n i v e r s i t y l e a r n i n g , o f t h e s t o r e o f k n o w l e d g e a n d o p i n i o n t h a t h a s b e e n h a n d e d d o w n t h r o u g h a c a d e m i c t r a i n i n g , h a s b e e n i t s a l m o s t t o t a l e r a s u r e o f w o m e n ‘ s e x p e r i e n c e a n d t h o u g h t f r o m t h e c u r r i c u l u m , a n d i t s e x – c l u s i o n o f w o m e n a s m e m b e r s o f t h e a c a d e m i c c o m m u n i t y . T o d a y , w i t h i n c r e a s i n g n u m b e r s o f w o m e n s t u d e n t s i n n e a r l y e v e r y b r a n c h o f h i g h e r l e a r n i n g , w e s t i l l s e e v e r y f e w w o m e n i n t h e u p p e r l e v e l s o f f a c u l t y a n d a d m i n i s t r a t i o n i n m o s t i n s t i t u t i o n s . D o u g l a s s C o l l e g e i t s e l f i s a w o m e n ‘ s c o l l e g e i n a u n i v e r s i t y a d – m i n i s t e r e d o v e r w h e l m i n g l y b y m e n , w h o i n t u r n a r e a n s w e r a b l e t o t h e s t a t e l e g i s l a t u r e , a g a i n c o m p o s e d p r e d o m i n a n t l y o f m e n . B u t

This address was given at the Douglass College Convocation, September 6,1977.

M c G r a w – H i l l H i g h e r E d u c a t i o n

A D i v i s i o n of T h e M c G r a w – H i l l C o m p a n i e s

75 T H E M A T I C R E A D I N G S : A N A N T H O L O G Y

Published by M c G r a w – H i l l , a business unit of T h e M c G r a w – H i l l Companies, Inc., 1221 Avenue of the Americas, New York, N Y , 10020. Copyright © 2003 by T h e M c G r a w – H i l l Companies, Inc. A l l rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written consent of The M c G r a w – H i l l Companies, Inc., including, but not limited to, in any network or other electronic storage or transmission, or broadcast for di.stance learning.

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 75 thematic readings ; an anthology / M c G r a w – H i l l ,

p. cm. Includes index.

I S B N 0-07-246931-5 (softcover : acid-free paper) 1. College readers. 2. English language-Rhetoric-Problems, exercises, etc. 3.

Report writing-Problems, exercises, etc. I Title: Seventy-five thematic readings. I I . M c G r a w – H i l l Companies. P E I 4 1 7 . A 1 3 2003 808′.0427-dc21

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Contents I n d e x o f R h e t o r i c a l M o d e s x v i i

P r e f a c e x x v

C h a p t e r 1 L A N G U A G E A N D C O M M U N I C A T I O N 1

R i c h a r d R o d r i g u e z : “Aria” 3

“My m o t h e r ! My f a t h e r ! After English became my primary language I no longer knew what words to use in addressing my parents.”

M a x i n e H o n g K i n g s t o n : “Tongue Tied” 1 0

“During the first silent year, I spoke to no one at school, did not ask before going to the lavatory, and flunked kindergarten.”

G l o r i a A n z a l d u a : “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” 1 5

“For a people who are neither Spanish nor live in a country in which Spanish is the first language; for a people who live in a country in which English is the reigning tongue but who are not Anglo; for people who cannot entirely identify with either standard (formal, Castillian) Spanish nor standard English, what recourse is left to them but to create their own language?”

G l o r i a N a y l o r : “A Question of Language” 2 2

“Words themselves are innocuous; it is the consensus that gives them true power.”

V

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After reading Paulo Freire’s chapter on education, please select one passage from the text that you found particularly significant, interesting, difficult, or confusing. A “passage” may be only one sentence, and it may be up to about one paragraph, but make sure you select a passage that is “juicy” enough that you’ll have plenty to say about it.

After typing your passage, write a paragraph where you comment on at least two of the following things:

What did you find particularly interesting in this passage? Why does this passage seem significant in the context of the larger chapter? What questions do you have about the passage? Was there anything in the passage that was confusing to you? Why? What have you discovered about it now that you’ve thought about it more?

After posting, please read your classmates’ posts and comment on at least two of them to respond to either their questions or their ideas.

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(https:// Brian Mo (https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3787948) 星期五

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“Oppression—overwhelming control—is necrophilic; it is nour ished by love of death, not life. The banking concept of education, which serves the interests of oppression, is also necrophilic. Based on a mechanistic, static, naturalistic, spatialized view of conscious ness, it transforms students into receiving objects. It attempts to control thinking and action, leads women and men to adjust to the world, and inhibits their creative power.”(Freire , 77)

In this passage, Freire discusses his previously defined “banking concept”, in which students are not allowed to think for themselves and are basically forced to accept information. He describes this as being necrophilic, and I found this to be very interesting word choice on his part. When he used this word, at first I was confused, as I have never seen the word used in that way before. However, upon further analysis, I understood that the word actually fit the scenario. He refers to the death of the the student’s creativity. The teachers “narrative methods” are inherently necrophilic because of the resulting effect on the students. If life was represented by freedom of creative thinking, then death is the opposite, oppression of the mind. A similar example I thought about are government types, i.e a dictatorship versus a democracy. In a dictatorship there is oppression of the mind, whereas in the latter of the two there is more freedom. Furthermore, a dictator sees their people as mere objects because there opinions do not matter, but in a democracy the people’s opinion is relatively more important. There was a question I had on the third sentence of the paragraph I quoted above. What does a “mechanistic, static, naturalistic, spatialized view of consciousness” mean? Do we still have a good example of this in modern day education?

(https:// Maranda Stelly (https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3741431) 星期五

“The rebellion they [populist manifestations] express as they emerge in the historical process is motivated by that desire to act differently. The dominant elites consider the remedy to be more domination and repression, carried out in the name of freedom, order, and social peace (that is, the peace of the elites). Thus they can condemn-logically, from their point of view-“the violence of a strike by workers and [can] call upon the state in the same breath to use violence in putting down the strike.”‘

This passage by Freire was intended to describe the techniques and attitudes the oppressors expressed against the oppressed. It was interesting to me because it feels especially relevant today. My mind immediately went to the police condemning the looting surrounding this summer’s protests, while in the same breath using rubber bullets and tear gas to provoke and attackhttps://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3741431https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3741431

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unarmed protesters. Therein lies the hypocrisy that persists. It relates to the larger chapter in the sense of understanding the “elites'” strategies to keep in power. Using oppression from the moment we start school and continued in college, among other things, they indoctrinate the oppressed to the point they don’t realize they’re oppressed. The thought that “students are empty vessels to be filled” is ingrained. The tradition that police officers visit elementary schools and are presented as the people you call in any type of emergency, is just as ingrained. Through enlightenment and liberation, one comes to realize the techniques of the oppressors in the form of dominance, violence, and the banking system of education to keep the status quo.

(https:// Adrianna Hartounian (https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3793425) 星期六

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“It follows logically from the banking notion of consciousness that the educator’s role is to regulate the way the world “enters into” the students. The teacher’s task is to organize a process that already occurs spontaneously, to “fill” the students by making deposits of information which he or she considers to constitute true knowledge.” (Freire, 76)

Particularly, this passage stuck out to me because Freire begins to go in-depth with the understanding of the banking method in our education system. It first was unclear to me as to what Freire defines to be the banking concept with the teachers being “oppressors” and students, the “oppressed”. But after reading again and understanding his point of view, I began to see how true this can be. Many teachers and students who are aware or not, don’t question the way the system works. As a student, we simply take in information like a sponge and listen carefully to the depositor, soaking up all the knowledge they have for us to hear and we can not produce our own thoughts and knowledge into it. Freire has shown me an interesting new perspective on the education system because I have not thought about it before in my education and career.

(http Jennifer Jerebicz (https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3793597) 昨天

https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3741431https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3793425https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3793425https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3793597https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3793597

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Hey Adrianna. I agree with you that us students take information in and soak up a bunch of knowledge given from educators that sometimes, we aren’t able to put in our own thoughts. I was also unsure about the “banking method” until further reading and thinking and I now have a better understanding of what that all meant.

(https:// Kevin Villalvazo (https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3794257) 昨天

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“Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiqués and makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat” (Paulo Freire, 1968).

The passage seems significant in the context of the larger chapter, as it goes in-depth of the education systems’ lack of individuality and lack of explanations. It Is stating all that pupils do is receive information from teachers, memorize, and repeat without giving any thought to the information they are receiving. It is pointless for pupils to memorize information only to pass tests, without understanding the meaning of the information. What I found particularly interesting was, the way he describes the teachers and students. He is making the way the teachers and students sound nothing more than robots at an assembly line, just passing and giving information one to another.

(http Maranda Stelly (https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3741431) 10:07

Hi Kevin,

I like the way you interpreted Freire’s idea, that students and teachers are “nothing more than robots at an assembly line.” I think the oppressors would say the same thing. I like to think at the end of the assembly line pops out perfect little members of society, keeping the wheels turning.https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3794257https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3794257https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3741431https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3741431

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(https:// Claudia Alejandra Rico (她) (https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3792512) 昨天

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“Problem-posing education affirms men and women as beings in the process of becoming—as unfinished, uncompleted beings in and with a likewise unfinished reality. Indeed, in contrast to other animals who are unfinished, but not historical, people know themselves to be unfinished; they are aware of their incompletion. In this incompletion and this awareness lie the very roots of education as an exclusively human manifestation. The unfinished character of human beings and the transformational character of reality necessitate that education be an ongoing activity.”

I personally found this passage most interesting, as it’s something I believe have wondered about before. Often times we think of important figures as part of our textbook and nothing more. We forget that they were actual people like us who had an indefinite future, and focus on their biggest achievements rather than what it took to reach them. This passage also contributes to Freire’s idea that banking education is highly one-dimensional and doesn’t promote critical thinking, accepting what has already happened as final. One thing that I couldn’t quite wrap my head around was understanding that knowledge as we know it is ever changing and so are ourselves as people, not necessarily provoking a question simply much to process. I do wish though more teachers can look through this and fight to make this type of education more common.

(http Adrianna Hartounian (https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3793425) 昨天

https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3792512https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3792512https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3793425https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3793425

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Hey Claudia! I like the passage you have chosen about problem-posing. I agree that as students, we don’t necessarily think about the emotional aspect of the stories and people we are taught about.

(http Maranda Stelly (https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3741431) 10:11

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Hi Claudia,

I think what Freire is stating is that our perception of the knowledge is ever changing, since we as individuals are always changing. At least that’s what I got from it haha.

(https:// Samantha Cuba (她) (https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3793423) 昨天

“Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiques and makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat. This is the “banking” concept of education, in which the scope of action allowed to the students extends only as far as receiving, filing, and storing the deposits.” (Freire pg.72)

Throughout the chapter Freire talks about education but what stood out to me in the beginning of the chapter is when he relates education with an act of depositing. I found this part particularly interesting in this passage because in the paragraph he goes on to explain the “banking” concept of education. With that concept it is expected for the students to listen and have the teacher give them information then the student will repeat it back to them. This was interesting because nowadays the education system wants you to think and not just copy what your teachers have written down. The way Freire compares student as the depositories and gives how the students are suppose to do with the information they are given. The whole “banking” concept of education is different from how education is now and interesting to see how they wanted their students to learn. A couple ofhttps://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3741431https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3741431https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3793423https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3793423

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questions I have towards this part of the passage is, how did Freire come up with this concept? Is it possible that this idea of learning is helpful to some students without being able to be creative?

(http Jennifer Jerebicz (https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3793597) 昨天

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Hi Samantha! I as well thought that passage was a very interesting one to come across. I feel like to some students, this way of learning might be helpful since there shouldn’t be just one style of learning.

(https:// Jennifer Jerebicz (https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3793597) 昨天

After reading Paulo Freire’s chapter on education, a passage I’ve found to be both significant and interesting was this:

“Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiques and makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat. This is the “banking” concept of education, in which the scope of action allowed to the students extends only as far as receiving, filing, and storing the deposits.” (Freire, 72)

Paulo Freire uses the banking concept of education to uncover the flaws and insufficiency within the education system. I found this to be very thought-provoking and interesting because he metaphorically discusses how teachers during instruction make “deposits” of knowledge into students (such as how a bank makes deposits), to which later on that information stored by the student is withdrawn (during tests, finals, e.t.c). From my understanding in correlation to the passage, the “knowledge” given from educators can oftentimes be deplorable and serve almost no purpose for the student in the long-run.

At first, I was confused on what the banking concept of education meant and why he was using the idea of “banking” and “depositing” in comparison to student education. With further reading and heavy thinking, I’ve discovered that because somehttps://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3793597https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3793597https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3793597https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3793597

8/31/2020 主题: Sharing Passages from Freire

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educators can use instruction like a bank by having students receive, memorize and repeat information, that information fed and deposited into students is more about acquiring a satisfactory test grade, rather than skills for personal development. This was very compelling for me to read and think about because I can now see the different perspectives on how education is morally taught in society.

(http Adrianna Hartounian (https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3793425) 昨天

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Hey Jennifer! I also was uncertain about the banking concept at first but I think you described it quite clearly. It also gave me a new perspective which changed how I view the education system.

(https:// Dave Morrison (他) (https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3793813) 9:05

“If men and women are searchers and their ontological vocation is humanization, sooner or later they may perceive the contradiction in which banking education seeks to maintain them, and then engage themselves in the struggle for their liberation. But the humanist, revolutionary educator cannot wait for this possibility to materialize. From the outset, her efforts must coincide with those of the students to engage in critical thinking and the quest for mutual humanization. His efforts must be imbued with a profound trust in people and their creative power. To achieve this, they must be partners of the students in their relations with them.”

Throughout the chapter, Paulo Freire warns about the problems and limitations of an educational system in which teachers are authoritative dispensers of information while students are passive receivers of information. He believes this “banking education” inhibits freedom of thought and the expansion of knowledge. In the above passage Freire suggests that if people become more aware of the realities of our human histories and if they see their current realities as being in a shared, evolving world, thesehttps://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3793425https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3793425https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3793813https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3793813

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people may become “critical thinkers.” This is significant since critical thinkers may strive to change an education system that hampers truth and limits knowledge.

Freire calls on educators to not delay, but rather partner immediately with students as a “student among students” in a mutual exchange of knowledge, personal growth, and expanded awareness. This seems fitting for our current times as well. An educational system that is more inclusive of a diversity of experiences would be ideal. Critical thinking is expected in college level education where freedom of thought is encouraged. But, I wonder how these changes would come about on the high school level and below. I wonder what barriers teachers and students and also parents would have to overcome to help create beneficial change.

(https:// Yingxin Xu (https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3793249) 10:20

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Sharing Passages from Freire “Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor” (Freire, 72). Following the passage, what interested me was the fact that the education system is designed only to equip students with the vast volume of knowledge from diverse subjects that they memories only to pass examinations or tests but cannot generally aid them in reality or assist them to figure out or innovate any new idea in their day- to-day lives. Furthermore, this passage appears significant in the context of the larger chapter because it shows the missing gap or poor system used for teaching hence the difference in the teacher-student relationship as this “banking model”, a teacher impact facts into a student’s mind, so as he/she memorize as well as remember them. Moreover, why do teachers not teach problem-posing model instead of the & quote; banking model & quote; And also, is this kind of model better or efficient for empowering students? I do consider it confusing and not an appropriate way for teaching as it cannot foster good teacher- student relationship as there is no permission of dialogue and the students are completely looked upon as depositories who are there to memories but cannot think on their own to tackle or figure out any idea. Lastly, I have found out it is not a worthy system or model for teaching as it cannot help one in inevitability.https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3793249https://canvas.pasadena.edu/courses/1110549/users/3793249

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