We Make the Road by Walking

I’ve been reading We Make the Road by Walking: Conversations on Education and Social Change, by Myles Horton & Paulo Freire (Temple University Press, 1990). I was reminded of it by Patrick Berry. If you haven’t read it, I recommend it highly. Meeting at a conference in 1987, Freire had invited Horton to join with him in “speaking a book.” The result is essentially a transcript of their lively and provocative conversations.

One section especially caught my interest. It’s called “Is it possible just to teach biology?” As Freire asks, “Is it possible to discuss, to study the phenomenon of life without discussing exploitation, domination, freedom, democracy, and so on?” As I expected, neither one answers “yes”; they reject the idea of neutrality in teaching anything. Many people might read that as advocating the imposition of one’s own ideas on others. But both Horton and Freire talk about sharing their ideas in a way that shows how they actually create more space for students to disagree, or to find their own path to greater understanding. They create a space in which everyone comes to a richer understanding of the subject at hand.

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