"The whole movement of life is learning" (Krishnamurti). "To be an act of knowing, then, the adult literacy process must engage the learners in the constant problematizing of their existential situations" (Freire). "Once you learn to read, you will be forever free" (Douglass). "I can learn anything I have the desire to learn" (White, S.G.).

Saturday, February 2, 2013


      This week I am looking at the first question “What is Belfiore doing?”  We talked briefly in class about how she was putting herself in the story using an anthropological style of writing in “I” form.  I view it as she is not only putting herself in the story, but also pulling the reader in so that we are standing right next to her.  The sentence “I’m in one of those large, anonymous and endlessly reproducible shopping malls with department stores, super stores and specialty boutiques” put me there.  I almost think it was the particular use of the word “anonymous” that told me this could be me too, whatever I picture in my mind is correct.

     I admire an author that has the power to pull me into the story.  It’s not an easy task, hooking the reader, making the reader care.  Maybe it is me, but textiles and weaving did not hold my interest as pickles did.  Was it the writing style?  I sew, I weave, and I actually prefer those as pastimes, over pickles.  I am pressed to try and determine why one chapter grabbed me and another did not.  I haven’t started hotels yet…

      From here my mind jumped to the novel Push, also written in an “I” form letting the reader in on the young girl’s vivid story using an anthropological lens.  Well, first I have not seen the movie, so although I knew the outline of the story from hearing others talk about it and my own daughter announcing she was going to be a social worker after viewing the movie (she has since switched to an English major) I had ultimately avoided the story.  It was too much for me to take on, to become emotionally pulled in when I already hear/see too many stories of children lost in the educational system.  I wasn’t ready to live the life of a child lost in the same world that I struggle to keep students from falling into, but this week I began this novel; required reading.  Forty pages in one sitting and I needed a mental break.  This is not to mean that I am not hooked, but that I am drained from being in the story with Precious. 

      Sapphire, the author, has put us right there, hurting, brutalized and fighting back.  The first line of the story, "I was left back when I was twelve because I had a baby for my fahver." made me ache. The broken writing, the street language, the fragments and the resistance that Precious offers  from page one puts us right there, visualizing, suffering and aching for her.  I go back to the word “anonymous” used by Belfiore.  By letting the reader see through that anthropological lens, Sapphire has written the story of an anonymous character and given her life.  When I am emotionally prepared to be drawn in again I will lift the book and persevere.


  1. Loved this post Susan! I too share your uncertainty at reading this book. I have shied away from the movie and, because I can become so emotionally attached to a well written book and its story, have avoided it until now. It still sits on my nightstand awaiting my courage to pick it up. Encouraged by your post however, I may take that first step tonight! I've heard tails that this book may change your life and perception of others permanently, so definitely worth the adventure!

  2. Susan, this is beautifully written. Just two quick thoughts for now: First, your writing perfectly illustrates what Heidegger means when he says understanding is seeing yourself in the world. That is, we can "know" things in our head, but we "understand" the human condition in our heart, only when we see ourselves in the humanity. So I love your playing with the idea of anonymous, for what ever reason, that one word literally "hooked you in" (to the story and the world) and you understood. Pretty cool stuff, no?
    Secondly, your writing embodies ZPD (see how your brave stance gave courage to Holly?) You raise the huge issue of burn out: how do we engage in the world, connect at a human level with the suffering of others, and yet preserve enough of a boundary to protect ourselves? Not either or, but rather connect AND maintain some distance....

  3. I had to come back to this post to comment just one more time (sorry!) as I completed my readings for this past week. I so agree with Dr. Muth; and I am excited by the messages that Chapter 6 describes regarding implications for practice. I am inspired by the many opportunities and meanings that can be found in literacy based on what we've discussed/discovered thus far. But I especially think one particular passage aligns with the encouragement for us to consider reading a book that would typically be outside of our comfort zone. Despite the fact that the main character is taking her own literary/educational journey and sharing that with us as the reader; I found a different message in Dr. Muth's assignment as well. Perhaps it is also a testament to how we, as educators, must sometimes step outside of our own box to truly view the "tapestry". "Staying in our safe places may have consequences for the very people we believe we are trying to assist." (Belifore, 238) I wonder if exposure to this wonderful story by Sapphire will encourage us to remember to do that as we go forth.


Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on this post. Diverse opinions are welcomed.