"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.).

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Dialogue, social and cultural

When reading Chapter 6 of Reading Work, I was impressed by the idea that adult educators should share their work and thoughts in an ongoing dialogue to bridge adult education with the real work and life, to see more value in those practice and to enrich the understanding of adult literacy (Belfior, Defoe, Folinsbee, Hunter & Jackson, 2004). It reminds me of what I learnt last semester about dialogue. it is a form of learning where each one listen to others opinions and further develop their own idea based on them. Sharing one’s researching experience in a dialogue allows the researcher to bring his own perspective and background into a big conversation. He may bet valuable feedback to further refine his work. Also, his insight may be inspiration to others.

In class, we talked about the first paragraph of chapter 1, where the author described every detail he noticed on his way entering the factory. At first, I thought it seemed to be too descriptive for an academic research paper. However, just as Dr. Muth said, “No observation is too small to write down.” The reader will judge for themselves. Again, it is sharing not just what the researcher think matter, but also other relevant data he collected. Some data may be meaningless from one angle, but incredibly valuable from another. As Dr. Hurst said, our own experience is one of the most valuable data. In a research, to record and share all the data is not only a way to present the whole story and reduce bias, but also a way to leave an open conversation and inspire more thoughts from the readers.

Since talking about sharing ideas and thoughts, I have a question about the relationship of social and cultural. Based on Dr. Muth’s explanation that social is the shared external while cultural is the shared internal, I wonder if culture is, to some degree, evolved from social. I think examples can be seen in all kinds of organizations. In my elementary school and high school, just like other schools in China, all the students are required to do the morning exercise. It is the shared external enforced by the school rules. After years, the music and the steps of the exercise has been internalized and become the shared internal of my generation. now, although we don not do it anymore, we still feel that the exercise is a part of us, a part of our generation and a part of the culture of Chinese schools. In terms of adult literacy research and dialogue, when researchers share their works and experience in a dialogue, some ideas and thoughts become the shared external. When they shared external accumulates and then in internalized, it transforms into the shared internal, the culture, among the researchers.

I wonder how do you think of this idea, and how do you think of the relationship between the two :)


  1. Annie, I like your thinking about the relationship between the social and cultural, and the "outside in" model you hypothesize is a good one. However, I wonder if the arrow also goes in the opposite direction--our cultural beliefs and values shapes the formal...Either way, it is always good to do these mental experiments--they help to clarify the borders, relationships and distinctions of ideas. Ultimately the two are one, and all these thought experiments need to folded back up and placed in storage. :)

  2. I agree with the idea that cultural comes from social. There are varying degrees of social learning and literacy and from these, different levels of employee groups develop their own cultural literacy. In some cases the cultural literacy will contribute to the social literacy and help develop policy and literacy among the stakeholders of the organization.


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