"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 23, 2013

Push and America's Perfect Storm

Last week I finally developed the nerve to pick up the book "Push" and began the adventure of Precious' life.   With the readings of the previous week now stirring my thoughts, I consider this provocative story as I reflect on my feelings of "America's Perfect Storm".  While understanding that our current economic crisis is attributed to a variety of reasons, I had not considered the possible effects that education may have on the current and future situation.  Education obviously prepares us for the working world, enabling us to read and understand society so that we may be successful in its mix.  I so believe in the possibilities that education can provide, I am a tremendous advocate of the education for my own children and have (obviously) ventured out to continue my own.  But to consider "as better-educated individuals leave the workforce they will be replaced by those who, on average, have lower levels of education and skill." (p.4) was a very new perspective for me.  I often find myself surprised at how much more my own children are capable of doing than I was at their age.  Granted there is some loss of ability due to our dependence on things such as computers (we didn't have spell check when I was in school!), but to view them as less intelligent?  I struggle to agree with the theories in the article.  Their arguments are well articulated and supported by various data, so when faced with such text I do have a difficult time not considering it.  My own experiences with my children and their current education affects my opinion, but I suppose I should consider whether or not their opportunities are truly the norm.  Thinking back to fictional account of Precious' life, I feel my frustration returning.  How could someone treat a child the way that her parents do?  How can you not want to support their dreams and aspirations?  Too consistently belittle them and not offer or seek help knowing that they are struggling with their reading, such an important aspect of their education in its entirety.  The feeling that is expressed so vividly through Precious's tears when her teacher asks her so simply "are you in the right class?" My heart bleed for her and her unjust life.  I only hope that she becomes the heroine that I know she can, so this part I suppose is "to be continued"….As I ponder however her obvious desire to get the education that she should, I consider conversations that I've had with friends who are or were teachers in various public school systems.  The sad stories that they told of children with parents that do not care about them or their struggles with school.  My friends efforts to help them as much as they could, despite.  But what about after they left their classrooms?  Did someone take them under their wing then?  How many other children in our society are really living a life like those described in the pages of that little red book?  It's difficult sometimes to step out of our own realities and consider the reality known to others.  Perhaps the reality of so many that really are affecting our educational abilities as a country, as described in APS.  Conceivably our fate may be traveling the road detailed in America's Perfect Storm.  I for one however hope that there are some holes in their theories.  But for now, slightly outside of my own reality, I wonder how capable I could be in helping to change our path.


  1. It is hard for us to conceive of a mother as heartless as Precious' mother. Your interesting juxtaposition of Push and Perfect Storm provides an insight: we are lead to believe that the low literates making up the "rising tide of mediocrity" are all impoverished, like Precious. Yet beyond the "truth" of skill deficits that, within the rules of the Perfect Storm discourse are indeed true, we have no idea about the richness and wisdom and cultural resources of these people. Who is using these metaphors and why? Who gains? Who loses?
    Thanks for this helpful perspective, Holly!

  2. Push pushed me to another place too Holly. Though it is seems hard to imagine someone mistreating a child so strongly as Precious was hurt and damaged, I've seen enough at the high school level to believe it happens. I've sat through several risk-assesments for children considering self-harm to know how badly they hurt. I've had to report children to child protective services and I've had to help one girl become documented as emancipated minor so that she could get an education that no one in her own home supported. I want to believe better of our system, but there is room no doubt for improvement. I too want to believe that Precious's story is to be continued as a heroine. Thanks Holly.


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