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Every Person Is a Philosopher

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


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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Chapter Six: Itinerary with hal (Christine Tarkowski)


c h a p t e r s i x ITINERARY with Christine Tarkowski 80 | christine tarkowski Traveling with Hal. Hal and I talked for a few years about taking a trip together. Something about starting out west, meandering eastward in reverse expansion and looking at how people live on and use the land. Perhaps connecting land use with the complex past and present of our histories, Native, slave, colonial, capitalist… We talked about looking into the past with the hopes of seeing the future, maybe in order to just comprehend something of the present. Hal and I never did take this trip. Hal’s health declined and my son was born, but we would still mention the potential details of the trip to each other. Monuments, strip malls, historic markers and casinos… these places may have given us reason to explore and travel, but I really just wanted to be with Hal, with words or without. For a couple of years in the mid-90s I traveled around Chicago with Hal. I had an old camera and would go on these walking journeys with the Journal of Ordinary Thought writers and Hal would be there too. At first I photographed the writers during their workshops at places like Dearborn Homes, Dett School, Mabel Manning Library, Bee and Suder Elementary. The thinking was that we should show the writers alongside their writing but then it evolved into more. I would follow around writers like Sue Sago, Pat Guy or Larry Davis and...

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