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Every Person Is a Philosopher

Lessons in Educational Emancipation from the Radical Teaching Life of Hal Adams

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Edited By Bill Ayers, Caroline Heller and Janise Hurtig

Hal Adams was a legendary radical educator who organized writing workshops with people who had been written off during much of their lives, marginalized for reasons of race, gender, class, and caste. Hal detested the carelessness and neglect his students endured and set about building spaces of respect and reparation. Fostering communities of local writers and publishing their work in journals of «ordinary thought,» the work brought pride and dignity to the authors, carrying the wisdom of their narratives into and beyond their communities. In the traditions of Paulo Freire, Antonio Gramsci, and C.L.R. James, Hal based his approach on the conviction that every person is a philosopher, artist, and storyteller, and that only the insights and imaginings of the oppressed can sow seeds of authentic social change. Every Person Is a Philosopher gathers essays by classroom and community educators deeply influenced by Hal’s educational work and vision, and several essays by Hal Adams. They explore diverse ways this humanizing pedagogy can be applied in a wide range of contexts, and consider its potential to transform students and teachers alike. This is an ideal text for courses in educational foundations, multicultural education, urban studies, sociology of education, English education, social justice education, literacy education, socio-cultural contexts of teaching, adult education, cultural studies, schools and communities, and popular education.

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Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .vii Introduction: Hal Adams’ pedagogy of ordinary thought: Planting the seeds of change . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Bill Ayers, Caroline Heller, and Janise Hurtig Hal Adams: A Brief Biographical Sketch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Chapter One: A grassroots think-tank: Linking writing and community-building (reprinted from Democracy and Education) . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 Hal Adams Chapter Two: Ordinary thoughts, whispers of revolutionary thinking . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Elsa Auerbach with Jorge Garcia, Brenda Gonzales, Rebecca Kilgallon, Tamzin Partridge, and Ann Rettman Chapter Three: The praxis of sharing and the dialectics of small group writing . . 33 Janise Hurtig Chapter Four: Showing up: Writing, reading and cross-cultural awareness in community literacy work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Stephen Mogge and Kate Power Chapter Five: Evidence of things unseen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 Caroline Heller vi | table of contents Chapter Six: Itinerary with Hal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 Christine Tarkowski Chapter Seven: Philosophers in La Casita: Hal Adams’ politics in theory and practice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89 Anne Carlson and Michael Staudenmaier Chapter Eight: Listen to me, listen to us: lives made better . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101 Janet Isserlis Chapter Nine: Making the ordinary extraordinary: Youth writing, publishing and performing poetry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111 Peter Kahn Chapter Ten: Goldfish in the river: Stories capturing moments in time . . . . . . . . . 121 Annie Knepler Chapter Eleven: Writing and changing together: Reflections on writing workshops in Chicago neighborhoods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129 Hal Adams Contributors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147 Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151

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