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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 Three: The praxis of sharing and the dialectics of small group writing



← 32 | 33 →The Praxis of Sharing and the Dialectics of Small Group Writing1


Through dialogue, the teacher of the students and the students of the teacher cease to exist and a new term emerges: teacher-student with students-teachers. —Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed


We come to share, not to learn. —Laura, writer and workshop co-facilitator of a parent writing group, introducing the writers at a public reading

Change the categories. -- C.L.R. James, Notes on Dialectics


The magazine release dinner and public reading for the Suarez High School parent-community writing group had been called for 6:30 on a Thursday evening in the school cafeteria. The writing group, now in its fifth year, had just received copies of the most recent magazine, which they had titled “Mothers, Daughters, Wives, and Teachers.” It was mid-February, making Valentine’s Day, “el día del enamorado,” the inevitable decorative theme for the event. “We may be mothers, but we can still be romantic,” Marta, one of the contributing writers, had commented about the theme at a planning meeting we had convened the previous week. Marta was the widowed grandmother of a graduating student and by far the oldest member of the writing group. Her comment, and the wry smile that accompanied it, prompted an outburst of laughter among the writers, who teased Marta to share more stories about romance in her life....

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