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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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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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Elsa Roberts Auerbach, Professor Emerita, taught in the applied linguistics and English Departments at the University of Massachusetts Boston for 30 years. She has written extensively about critical and participatory approaches to adult language and literacy education for English language learners. Her research and publications focus on curriculum development, family literacy, worker education, and teacher education; she has participated in various adult education and literacy initiatives in South Africa since 1995. She currently works with Jewish Voice for Peace, a U.S. organization engaged in the struggle for a just peace in Israel/Palestine, and is part of the editorial collective of Amandla! Magazine.

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