Last semester I began graduate studies eager to uncover how much I still had yet to discover and learn. I knew there was so much more to what drove a person to want to learn and how they took in the information that they sought. I am still, and may forever be, uncovering the layers of the onion known as education. My most recent "ah has" have absolutely come from the readings and discussions found on Tuesday nights in Adult 650. Collectively I am discovering a layer that is so much more complex and powerful than I could even begin to imagine. As the newly discovered (for me) and now revered Paulo Freire mentions in the video posted last week, "Literacy is a fundamental chapter of education as a whole." A "chapter" or layer I believe that is truly underestimated in its power. The words on a page can be used as a vehicle to get a message, skill, or ideology across. But literacy can also go much further than just the text in one's hands. What is the individual(s) true understanding of what they read? Was it the message intended? Or was it something else entirely? What experiences and prior learnings do they attribute to what they have read and how they understand it, or even feel about it? What then do they do with that comprehension? Perhaps these considerations and more were the reasons behind so many efforts historically to oppress individuals and their opportunities for literacy. As Arnove and Graff cite in their article, "One basic reason for doubting the resolve of political and educational leaders in many countries is that widespread possession of literacy by a populace may lead to unpredictable, contradictory, and conflictive consequence." Literacy can after all standardize language, expose cultures and perspectives, spread the religious word, and even promote continuous economic growth of a nation. Literacy efforts can be paused by the limitations of support as resources are instead attributed to war; or literacy can be the key to what begins a war among us. So while many may not yet truly understand the power that literacy can wield, perhaps sharing another quote from our readings this week may assist in putting it in perspective "literacy…(is) not just the process of learning the skills of reading, writing and arithmetic, but a contribution to the liberation of man and to his full development. Thus conceived, literacy creates the conditions for the acquisition of a critical consciousness of the contradictions of society in which man lives and of its aims; it also stimulates initiative and his participation in the creation of projects capable of acting upon the world, of transforming it, and of defining the aims of an authentic human development." (Arnove and Graff, 598) Literacy can truly be power and empowerment.