Friday, November 14, 2008

"Education is an act of love, thus an act of courage.” Paolo Freire

A friend of mine who was a SMACer several years ago told me that Paolo Freire used to be included in MAC reading lists. A brief explanation of his philosphy is available here: Freire

Having spent around 20 hours on my text analysis, which I experienced to be a demoralizing and frustrating assignment with few practical applications, I am wondering why we don't spend a little time reading and talking about the more inspiring and motivating writing out there on education. Perhaps the accusations that the MAC program was too theoretical and not practical enough led to the cutting down of philosophy readings? Personally, I think I would have much more use for philosophy right now than just about anything else. At a time when I've heard many of my colleagues questioning their reasons for teaching, I don't think even strategies to help struggling readers will be a useful tool for making bright, creative, educated people into dedicated, effective teachers if we don't have a reason for developing that commitment, a larger purpose. Just as you have to be prepared to make a powerful argument to any high school student as to why they should spend hours of their youth studying your discipline, I think that we who are studying teaching need to be reassured, need rationalizations and justifications for spending the enormous amount of energy that teaching (not to mention this program!) requires.

So this is my call for a philosophy of education component to the MAC program. It would be nice if everyone entering this program was already totally committed and hooked, totally sure that our decision to pursue teaching is a step towards what we want out of life. But that's simply not the case. Like Eugenie mentioned in one of our Foundations classes, even out of the people who get master's degrees in education not many stay in teaching long. While some of us have come to this as a second career and/or have reflected deeply on the purpose of education, others of us are trying to find out whether this is a path we're willing to take, are learning as we go, and need some context for this big profession we're peering into this year. Obviously right now all of us are really in it, talking about how much we love our kids and what good strategies are for getting them involved, making sure they're getting the most out of us. But I would argue that we also need a rationale beyond a degree to continue beyond a degree. And I know that Dewey and hooks and Freire are keeping me in it much more than any substantive conversation assignment.

Here is Chapter 2 of Pedagogy of the Oppressed
or for those who are scared of reading something from a Marxist website :), here are some hooks quotes from Teaching to Transgress from a blog I've recently discovered.