Freire, Paulo. “The Adult Literacy Process as Cultural Action for Freedom and Education and Conscientizacao.” Harvard Educational Review, vol. 40, 1970, pp. 205-12.
*Note: My copy of the text doesn’t have page numbers; will need to access a hard copy of the text to complete in-text citations and find sources for further reading.
Summary: Friere explains why the “literacy myth” is unrealistic, acknowledging that literacy instruction doesn’t address the larger system of oppression that leads to the initial illiteracy. He also goes on to explain that teaching literacy requires instructors to present to students the resources for them to teach themselves.
Keywords: literacy, educator, transformation, illiteracy, oppression
- “[Teaching] involves, above all, thought-language; that is, the possibility of the act of knowing through his praxis, by which man transforms reality.”
- “Illiterates are considered ‘undernourished,’ not in the literal sense in which many of them really are, but because they lack the ‘bread of the spirit.’ Consistent with the concept of knowledge as food, illiteracy is conceived of as a ‘poison herb,’ intoxicating and debilitating persons who cannot read or write.”
- “Merely teaching men to read and write does not work miracles; if there are not enough jobs for men able to work, teaching more men to read and write will not create them.”
- “In accepting the illiterate as a person who exists on the fringe of society, we are led to envision him as a sort of ‘sick man,’ for whom literacy would be the ‘medicine’ to cure him, enabling him to ‘return’ to the ‘healthy’ structure from which he has been separated.”
- “[L]iteracy programs can never be efforts toward freedom; they will never question the very reality which deprives men of the right to speak up–not only illiterates, but all those who are treated as objects in a dependent relationship.”
- “By contrast, in the second hypothesis–interpreting illiterates as men oppressed within the system–the literacy process, as cultural action for freedom, is an act of knowing in which the learner assumes the role of knowing subject in dialogue with the educator.”
- “Acquiring literacy does not involve memorizing sentences, words, or syllables–lifeless objects unconnected to an existential universe–but rather an attitude of creation and re-creation, a self-transformation producing a stance of intervention in one’s context.”
- “Thus, the educator’s role is fundamentally to enter into dialogue with the illiterate about concrete situations and simply to offer him the instruments with which he can teach himself to read and write.”
- Self-sponsorship is the key to literacy transformations.
- In what ways can I connect this text to my MA project? The self-sponsorship idea seems to be connected to the self-advocacy process I’m exploring.