"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, April 20, 2014


Dr. Muth and I decided it would be reasonable to post as a blog a few emails we exchanged in regards to the Boudin article.  You may find them mildly interesting

Date: Thu, 3 Apr 2014 15:36:32 -0400
Subject: Re: Boudin Article
From: wrmuth@vcu.edu
To: gregorydomson@msn.com

Thanks for touching base, Greg. I do respect your strong feelings about Boudin and would never try to minimize her past acts or persuade you to accept her account of the story. In fact, I have experienced a crisis of this sort hundreds of times as a prison teacher--almost every time I found out what the person was in prison for, it made it almost impossible to teach them. Thus I stopped asking about their sentence and concentrated on the way they presented themselves in prison...what other option did I have, but to leave prison work? I guess what i personally came to accept about the complexities of life were these: (1) I accepted their good intentions and expressions of remorse at face value while in prison- if they helped another prisoner or sent money home that was good enough. Who knows where they'll be when they get out? (2) being "brainwashed" by the Jesuits, I'm stuck on the gospel view of radical forgiveness. It is, after all, just possible that people can change, yes? but (3) I did find it harder to work with white collar criminals-they abused the privileges that most of the other prisoners never received (and were in fact quite often victims themselves, like the Hope House fathers that grew up in Carol's homeless shelter...)
Sorry I can't help you find your own way here, but fully empathize with your stance. These are some of my ways of reacting/coping to the ethical and visceral quandaries of this messy world. Thank you so much for writing...

On Thursday, April 3, 2014, <gregorydomson@msn.com> wrote:

Dr. Muth,

     I've been spending a large amount of time thinking about the Boudin article; it disturbs me very much.  I wanted to touch base with you about my thoughts privately before I post a blog or make my feelings public.  I've done a little research into the background and history of the author, and this information has made me question the validity of the paper.  First, I will go ahead and reveal my own internal bias that I have against convicted criminals.  I'm not in the practice of reading, listening to, or believing the opinions of convicted murderers or terrorists (which I think is an appropriate label for Ms. Boudin by today's current societal norms).  That is my problem, and I accept that.  Certainly, and I'm sure you have many examples, there are criminals who can reform and become productive members of society, but I can't help but questions their authenticity, motivation, and honesty.
     More importanly, for the purposes of this class, I cannot accept that this article is valid or legitimate (I am actually somewhat shocked it was published, but I must admit I'm not familiar with the review process of the Harvard Educational Review).  As you know, I come from a "hard science" background.  Hypothetically, if I was convicted of a felony and imprisoned I would lose my medical license.  Even if I was able to keep it and conduct research on prisoners, I find it hard to believe any peer-reviewed medical journal would publish my results.  I am an untrustworthy author and clearly biased by being a prisoner myself. 
     Her background and obvious bias (which is not hidden at all in the article) are not the only "red flags" for me.  At one point during the article she mentions her background as a social activist in the 60's.  Based on what I have researched, she was a full-fledged terrorist (plotted bombings not dissimilar to the recent Boston marathon, undertook bombings of the Capital building) throughout the 70's and into the 80's.  She was convicted of  accessory to murder in 1981 at the age of 38.  Her characterization of herself is clearly only the part of the truth (I am actually scared to think of what her opinions are about the rest of her life and life choices), but there is no doubt she was making reprehensible decisions based on radical thinking at an advanced adult age.
     So why would I ever believe a word of what is written in this article?  Even if her recounting of the events is accurate, why would I ever believe or respect her interpretation of the events?  Certainly, there is a chance this research and article are legitimate.  There is a chance she adhered to the highest levels of honesty and protocol.  I acknowledge that.  However, you must also admit there is a chance this research is complete rubbish.  In my field, when that chance exists, research doesn't get published.  It may be interesting, but it isn't research.
     My initial feelings are to excercise my own social activism and boycott this article.  But I'm wondering if there is another project concerning prison literacy (like your own) that may be more valid and authentic.  Thanks.


No comments:

Post a Comment

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