Lessons in Educational Emancipation from the Radical Teaching Life of Hal Adams
Edited By Bill Ayers, Caroline Heller and Janise Hurtig
Chapter Two: Ordinary thoughts, whispers of revolutionary thinking (Elsa Auerbach with Jorge Garcia, Brenda Gonzales, Rebecca Kilgallon, Tamzin Partridge, and Ann Rettman)
c h a p t e r t w o Hal was a man of contradictions. I use the word man advisedly because, as I’m sure he would readily agree, he struggled mightily with his own positioning as a privileged white heterosexual male educator working largely with poor women of color with less formal education. He was a leftist who couldn’t stand much of the left. He was a teacher who wanted to debunk much of what passes for teaching. He was scared and he was brave. He was flexible and he was dogmatic. He was arrogant and he was humble. He would have both loved and hated the fact that we are writing this book. Central among these is the contradiction between wanting writing workshops to contribute to social change and at the same time not want- ing to impose a social change agenda. Hal struggled with questions about how to honor the power of workshop participants while also acknowledging his own position of power as a facilitator, about how to be a critical educator and hold on to his own ordinariness at the same time. Hal realized that these contradictions were generative, that the struggle with the contradictions pushes us forward. At the core of Hal’s work was the notion that change must come organi- cally, through creating contexts where ordinary people could, through writing and dialogue, come to understand their individual experiences as part of some- thing larger, and by joining with others, begin to become agents...
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