"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.).

Sunday, February 17, 2013


One of the "questioning the texts" items asked us what the difference between Wallerstein's (and Freire's) problem-posing curriculum and our 1-2-3 project.

The problem-posing curriculum does not assume neutrality. The interaction between the educator and the student does not occur in a vacuum, but we co-participate in the learning process. The purpose of the educational process is to engage in a dialogue that will promote critical thinking and lead to the participant's awareness of the possibility of change. The tools of problem-posing are listening, dialogue, and action. The "curriculum" will evolve from these processes.  

Considering this, I think some of the difference relates to positionality - where I am - what role I play, or would play, in either situation. However, it is not as straightforward as it might seem at first. For the project, I feel I must assume neutrality. I need to put myself in the place of an observer - which is related to listening, and certainly, I plan to engage in a dialogue that will help me understand how the literacy event I have chosen to study is understood in the workplace (it gets a little messy here because we are talking about my co-workers - my workplace). I can feel the tension, because I have an opinion about the phenomena I want to study and the 1-2-3 project is not about me. The project will be about revealing the tensions surrounding the literacy event and looking at those through the lenses of critical theory, trying to identify what causes resistance to the literacy event, and how meaning is construed from artifacts that codify the event. My goal will be to look at the event from the edges and not place myself into the process.  The project will stop short of the final problem-posing step of "action."

In the project, I will be a researcher rather than an educator. While there is some overlap in research tools such as observing and interviewing with listening and discourse analysis/dialogue, the difference will be that for the 1-2-3 project I want to explore and discover (reveal) literacy practices in a given workplace. My neutral stance will help me to question critically what I am seeing and hearing. In the problem-posing model, I am an educator involved in "arousing consciousness and critical awareness among the students about the need for and possibility of change." I am learning with the students and our respective values and experiences interact in a social exchange that creates learning. I think, too, that in the 1-2-3 project to a certain degree, I will "name" the world. Whereas in problem-posing, the students name their world. Although I have tried to lay out these things logically, I am very aware of the tension between the two roles and realize keeping them separate will be difficult. 

1 comment:

  1. Susan, thank you for putting the issue of neutrality out there for us to examine! I agree that being detached enough to "hear" the other's voice is imperative. To quote Simone Weil “A way of looking that is first of all attentive. The soul empties itself of all its own contents in order to receive into itself the being it is looking at, just as he [sic] is, in all his truth.”
    However...is this the only way to be a researcher? And, how exactly do we do this emptying? Is it not sometimes quite "uncovering" to allow ourselves to "feel" our own subjective emotions when we are interviewing, for example? I think your last sentence is the best of all: There's a role for detachment and attachment in research, but keeping them separate, or at least being aware of our efforts to keep them 'in their places' is key...


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