"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.).

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Pete, Prison, Passion...and Bruce

Bruce Jackson is a professor of culture at U. Buffalo. As a doctoral student, I became familiar with his work as a prison folklore anthropologist. Jackson not only perfected a sampling technique called "snowball sampling" (where one respondent provides you access to the next), he was (and is) one of the great chroniclers of what he calls "convict work songs" which, he notes, "seemed to me to be part of an unbroken musical tradition going back to West Africa." Ironically, I just discovered yesterday (on the day of Pete's death) that it was Pete Seeger who encouraged Jackson to record the work songs and even funded a film Jackson made about them. Here's a link to a recording:

Together, they conspired to preserve a uniquely situated American text--with deep roots to West Africa, slavery, resistance and identity. A tapestry of the finest cloth. Thank you Bruce. Rest in Peace, Pete!


  1. Bill - probably because of his passing, but I saw this tribute to PS on facebook today: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/pictures/pete-seeger-20-essential-tracks-20140128. Did we explore music as a literacy genre last year? What a powerful way to express voice and capture social and historical context. This makes me think about the ways music could be used in literacy instruction...music as text. Thx. Susan

  2. Helloooo Susan!! We did not spend much time at all on music--just a little bit on remix...Great idea to pursue this. We may need to make this a 2 semester course!

  3. SO funny because I just brought up Phil Ochs (PS contemporary) in my other blog while I was talking about Capstone. I think music, and the stories contained within, are very important to literacy and social change (or personal revolution, which is what I said).
    Thanks for teaching me about Bruce Jackson, I am looking forward to exploring his work!


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