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This dialogue between two of the most prominent thinkers on social change in the twentieth century was certainly a meeting of giants. Throughout their highly personal conversations recorded here, Horton and Freire discuss the nature of social change and empowerment and their individual literacy campaigns. The ideas of these men developed through two very different channels This dialogue between two of the most prominent thinkers on social change in the twentieth century was certainly a meeting of giants. Throughout their highly personal conversations recorded here, Horton and Freire discuss the nature of social change and empowerment and their individual literacy campaigns. The ideas of these men developed through two very different channels: Horton's, from the Highlander Center, a small, independent residential education center situated outside the formal schooling system and the state; Freire's, from within university and state-sponsored programs. Myles Horton, who died in January 1990, was a major figure in the civil rights movement and founder of the Highlander Folk School, later the highlander Research and Education Center. Paulo Freire, author of Pedagogy of the Oppressed, established the Popular Culture Movement in Recife, Brazil's poorest region, and later was named head of the New National Literacy Campaign until a military coup forced his exile from Brazil. He has been active in educational development programs worldwide. For both men, real liberation is achieved through popular participation. The themes they discuss illuminate problems faced by educators and activists around the world who are concerned with linking participatory education to the practice of liberation and social change. How could two men, working in such different social spaces and times, arrive at similar ideas and methods? These conversations answer that question in rich detail and engaging anecdotes, and show that, underlying the philosophy of both, is the idea that theory emanates from practice and that knowledge grows from and is a reflection of social experience.


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This dialogue between two of the most prominent thinkers on social change in the twentieth century was certainly a meeting of giants. Throughout their highly personal conversations recorded here, Horton and Freire discuss the nature of social change and empowerment and their individual literacy campaigns. The ideas of these men developed through two very different channels This dialogue between two of the most prominent thinkers on social change in the twentieth century was certainly a meeting of giants. Throughout their highly personal conversations recorded here, Horton and Freire discuss the nature of social change and empowerment and their individual literacy campaigns. The ideas of these men developed through two very different channels: Horton's, from the Highlander Center, a small, independent residential education center situated outside the formal schooling system and the state; Freire's, from within university and state-sponsored programs. Myles Horton, who died in January 1990, was a major figure in the civil rights movement and founder of the Highlander Folk School, later the highlander Research and Education Center. Paulo Freire, author of Pedagogy of the Oppressed, established the Popular Culture Movement in Recife, Brazil's poorest region, and later was named head of the New National Literacy Campaign until a military coup forced his exile from Brazil. He has been active in educational development programs worldwide. For both men, real liberation is achieved through popular participation. The themes they discuss illuminate problems faced by educators and activists around the world who are concerned with linking participatory education to the practice of liberation and social change. How could two men, working in such different social spaces and times, arrive at similar ideas and methods? These conversations answer that question in rich detail and engaging anecdotes, and show that, underlying the philosophy of both, is the idea that theory emanates from practice and that knowledge grows from and is a reflection of social experience.

30 review for We Make the Road by Walking: Conversations on Education and Social Change

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ernie

    Essential to anyone who is involved in the field of education, this book is a fountain of advice for how to teach, and ultimately how to learn. Horton and Freire's insights draw on a lifetime of work in education and political activism, and draw on sources from Marx and Gramsci to the Gospels. Motivated by a love for their "students" (discussants), justice, and the pleasure of reading, these master educators expound on the art of educating through an enlightening, book-length dialogue.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Eireann

    AWWWW YEAH. This is a really important dialogue. I am glad it was captured.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dont

    I've been wanting to read this for a long time. Composed from six days of conversations between Paulo Freire and Myles Horton, founder of the Highlander Center in Tennessee. The most interesting section is the discussion around the differences between education and organizing. Much recommended for folks interested in the history of the Civil Rights movement in the US, the theory and practice of radical education, and a comparison between Freire and other forms of popular education.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Maggie

    one of the most influential books for me....such good insight to what each of us can do to be apart of changing this world...one person at a time.

  5. 4 out of 5

    William

    "The more people participate in the process of their own education, the more the people participate in the process of defining what kind of production to produce, and for what and why, the more people participate in the development of their selves. The more people become themselves, the better the democracy." - Paulo Freire

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    okay - this is my nerd "I love social justice and community mobilization" choice. Paulo Friere once made a comment about "making the world an easier place within which to love." - got to love that man and what ideas he has put forth in our world. He is someone who is not afraid to talk about love.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Eugene Kernes

    This book is talking book, in which Horton and Freire conversation was transcribed and edited. The central theme is the impact of education and the educator. The educator is considered an authority figure, but need to be prevented from becoming authoritative. Providing freedom with limits, otherwise the they loss the respect of students or become repressive. How idea spread is also discussed, as the speakers try to elucidate how to spread ideas without intervening too much. Intervening too much This book is talking book, in which Horton and Freire conversation was transcribed and edited. The central theme is the impact of education and the educator. The educator is considered an authority figure, but need to be prevented from becoming authoritative. Providing freedom with limits, otherwise the they loss the respect of students or become repressive. How idea spread is also discussed, as the speakers try to elucidate how to spread ideas without intervening too much. Intervening too much is seem as taking away the freedom of speech of others. Telling other what to do takes away their ability to learn to do the task they need. Both speakers have created communities around voting rights. Each discussed how they helped people obtain literacy skills which was the qualifier for voting. It seems that the major reason for the success of the community education programs that they created was due to the them first listened to what the community needed and what did not work, then created an educational program that helped the community. Taking the communities discomforts with certain types of speakers and places, both speakers help their nations become more democratic by giving the ability for more people to vote. The book is not for everyone. The conversation was more based on Horton’s experience with Highlander, a program that educated people on how to be an activist. It would actually be wrong to call this book a conversation. Both speakers just shared their views on a particular issue and rarely did they go back and forth within a certain issue. No real disagreement or questioning their own or each other’s views. Just supporting each other and expressing the way they see the others view. There were a few instances that that expressed a belief that some people know more than others and the need to raise the knowledge of the others. Helping people learn and giving them the ability to handle tasks is good, but the expression of intellectual superiority over others contradicts their own methods of education.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Hilary

    A brilliant concept of a book. I found myself skipping the Paulo Freire parts to read the Myles Horton ones. Horton just seems more real, less academic than Freire. It's clear I need to read The Long Haul. - I welcomed the discussion Horton shares about this relationship with Alinsky and the details about how organizing is different than education. - I appreciated Horton detailing how he and his colleagues had to adjust their approach after their education and shift to a posture of experimentation A brilliant concept of a book. I found myself skipping the Paulo Freire parts to read the Myles Horton ones. Horton just seems more real, less academic than Freire. It's clear I need to read The Long Haul. - I welcomed the discussion Horton shares about this relationship with Alinsky and the details about how organizing is different than education. - I appreciated Horton detailing how he and his colleagues had to adjust their approach after their education and shift to a posture of experimentation and humility because they had not been prepared to address people's actual problems.

  9. 5 out of 5

    John

    Really interesting, the conversation of these two men. They say some of the most beautiful things about their different lives, and how they came to work together. Worth picking up!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amory Ross

    We Make the Road by Walking is a revealing insight into two minds regarding education and movements. One is a Brazilian named Paulo Freire and the other is an American named Myles Horton. This is a must-read for any teacher or aspiring teacher. It's also an incredibly pertinent book regarding the recent election (2016) and the frustrations of the lack of movements. I did, however, feel as though one speaker spoke more than the other. This is a book that was talked. That is, two men, in the winter We Make the Road by Walking is a revealing insight into two minds regarding education and movements. One is a Brazilian named Paulo Freire and the other is an American named Myles Horton. This is a must-read for any teacher or aspiring teacher. It's also an incredibly pertinent book regarding the recent election (2016) and the frustrations of the lack of movements. I did, however, feel as though one speaker spoke more than the other. This is a book that was talked. That is, two men, in the winter of their lives, gathered at Horton's Highlander school to 'talk a book.' The content revolved around many concepts, but mostly education, politics, loss, and hope were discussed. The insightful comments about teachers being essentially groomed to teach a certain way is a refreshing comment to my sentiments in the classroom. I feel that students are taught to be robotic and geared toward an unrealistic high stakes test. What students need to do is to be guided, not forced. They need to be given time to reflect on higher level thinking, not rushed onto the next topic. Horton especially emphasizes his insistence that a teacher must admit he/ she does not know everything. He- agreeably- states that it is a healthy relationship between student and teacher when the educator admits to the end of the knowledge. From there the student continues on through with research. Furthermore, Horton highlights the need to allow thoughts to range freely. Corralling minds and enforcing limits works only in the moment, but it is a detriment to the student farther down the road. Freire emphasizes his experience as being a hungry child during the Depression. That lesson taught him to value items of worth. Instead of referring to himself as a victim, Freire loosely states he had the privilige of hunger. His upbringing in a socialist Brazil gave him the insight and value of education as illiteracy surrounded his life. Both men state that reading must be enjoyable. Forcing students to regurgitate reading in a public school model demonizes the very act that can help a student get ahead. This is a strange insistence by public school curricula when they tout school achievement. Furthermore, bot men agree on the thought that literacy is the path to power that can support movements. With the constant evolution in our current public school setting, this book can certainly provide a new light on the art of teaching. Perhaps it will swing teachers back to the artistic side instead of the heavy leaning to the scientific side lately. Forget STEM, Common Core, No Child Left Behind; allowing students young and old to be presented with a problem and developing the skills to solve that problem is worth so much more life experience than any standardized test could offer. While I felt like it was Myles Horton's book (and Paulo Freire happened to be there), I think this book should be an education graduate's present. Have the aspiring teacher read the book and then walk into the classroom prepared to ask students to think outside the box. Instead of being a robot just like the school districts are asking the students to be, this book could help a teacher reset the trend. We could all dig up the currently paved road of the public school model and make a new one by stepping in places not yet explored. Finally that sounds like a solution to our race to the bottom education system, designed by lawyers, and bucks the trend.

  11. 4 out of 5

    CTEP

    We Make the Road by Walking: Conversations on Education and Social Change is a striking dialogue between two of the 20th century’s most important educators- Myles Horton and Paulo Freire. Through Freire’s development of the field of pedagogy and Horton’s leadership of the Highlander School in the mountains of Appalachia, these two men have had an immense impact on both the theory and practice of progressive education and citizenship. The book is set up in a dialectic structure, a dialogue betwee We Make the Road by Walking: Conversations on Education and Social Change is a striking dialogue between two of the 20th century’s most important educators- Myles Horton and Paulo Freire. Through Freire’s development of the field of pedagogy and Horton’s leadership of the Highlander School in the mountains of Appalachia, these two men have had an immense impact on both the theory and practice of progressive education and citizenship. The book is set up in a dialectic structure, a dialogue between the two of them with an occasional third party interlocutor asking questions. It traces the biographic details of each mans life- Freire in Recife, Brazil, and Horton in the mountains of eastern Tennessee- and then lets each one explicate on their life experiences and the ways those experiences have influenced their thought. From their, each one bounds into their ideas about education and its future. We Make the Road by Walking isn’t a strictly pedagogical book, that is, it doesn’t provide some sort of blueprint for progressive/radical educators or engage much in the tactics side of things. However, both Horton and Freire share personal thoughts and ideas around their life’s work that feel more important than a curriculum or lesson plan. The need to have workers and students find self determination, the centrality of literacy to democracy, and the importance of adapting as educators to the needs of the students, all while maintaining some type of authority, are recurring themes within the dialogues. Horton somes up the values nicely, saying ‘if I had to put a finger on what I consider a good education, a good radical education, it wouldn’t be anything about methods or techniques. It would be loving people first. If you don’t do that, Che Guevara says, there’s no point in being a revolutionary’ (177). It’s thoughts like these that really power the book, rather than directives or instruction it feels like honest formulations around each man’s philosophy. The importance of books like We Make the Road by Walking to CTEPs should be clear. We are, at the core of it, educators who are often working in non-conventional settings. While it may often feel difficult to make change or improve peoples lives with our relatively limited scope and resources, the history of radical education in this country shows the value in what we do and how much more tangible the work that outside educators can have. Voices like Horton’s and Freire’s are valuable in that they devoted their whole lives to the cause and struggle of education, and from that their advice and ideas can be part of the pedagogical toolkit that we all must build over the course of this year.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    The book will be no surprise to Frierians, but what will be a surprise - and what gives this book tremendous value - is to see Friere articulating his ideas in concert with Myles Horton, the founder of the Highlander School in Tennessee. Horton is a powerful, radical background figure in American pedagogy and the history of radicalism. I say background because there's so little written on him, and he doesn't appear in the more general histories of the US labor movement or the US Civil Rights mov The book will be no surprise to Frierians, but what will be a surprise - and what gives this book tremendous value - is to see Friere articulating his ideas in concert with Myles Horton, the founder of the Highlander School in Tennessee. Horton is a powerful, radical background figure in American pedagogy and the history of radicalism. I say background because there's so little written on him, and he doesn't appear in the more general histories of the US labor movement or the US Civil Rights movement. His teaching was the foundation of the transformative practices of both groups. Horton created the Freedom Schools movement as well as trained generations of AFL-CIO leaders on how to work with groups in a democratic system to accomplish goals. This book contains a lot of valuable insights into pedagogy and how to teach. The main theme of the book is trust - something that is sorely lacking among the people who teach who I know. Horton and Friere articulate the importance of trusting the students to have knowledge when they come into the room and trusting the situtation - under the guidance and authority of the teacher - to generate a fluid knowledge that also creates a respect for what they call "reknowing." As is obvious, knowledge is a human creation, so it's constantly changing, altering, and being replaced. In our current US situation, obsessed with immutable facts as the salvation of some sort of radical political movement, this book is a necessary antidote to such narrow minded thinking. Horton is a brilliant figure, his anecdotes and teaching philosophy are refreshing and inspiring. Friere is his typical self, but it's really good to see his familiar ideas rearticulated in conversation with Horton. The whole book is written as a transcript of a series of conversations they had just before they both passed away. Suggested to anyone who believes that the art and act of teaching is meant to be subversive and radical.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Zach

    We Make the Road by Walking is a beautiful, instructive, and compelling book about education and social change. The conversation between Myles Horton and Paulo Freire is delightful. The techniques and pedagogy discussed are worth contemplating (and enacting, in my opinion). Equally affirming and transforming. Here's a favorite passage. Paulo: I think that we have to create in ourselves, through critical analysis of our practice, some qualities, some virtues as educators. One of them, for example, We Make the Road by Walking is a beautiful, instructive, and compelling book about education and social change. The conversation between Myles Horton and Paulo Freire is delightful. The techniques and pedagogy discussed are worth contemplating (and enacting, in my opinion). Equally affirming and transforming. Here's a favorite passage. Paulo: I think that we have to create in ourselves, through critical analysis of our practice, some qualities, some virtues as educators. One of them, for example, is the quality of becoming more and more open to feel the feelings of others, to become so sensitive that we can guess what the group or one person is thinking at that moment. These things cannot be taught as content. These things have to be learned through the example of the good teacher. Myles: This is a problem, how we can have a body of knowledge and understanding and resist the temptation to misread the interest of the students because we're looking for an opportunity to unload this great load of gold that we have stored up. Paulo: Not to do that, Myles, is one of the other virtues. Myles: Now that binds us sometimes, it seems to me, from observing the action of the students, the nonverbal language, because we are thinking verbally, and we're only looking for verbal reactions, and we don't read anything else.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Bryan Alexander

    Excellent book. Reviewed and discussed at my blog. Chapters 1-2, 3, 4, and 5-6.   There are also two posts exploring the book club's creations: 1, 2. Plus the post describing the book club's reading's plan. Excellent book. Reviewed and discussed at my blog. Chapters 1-2, 3, 4, and 5-6.   There are also two posts exploring the book club's creations: 1, 2. Plus the post describing the book club's reading's plan.

  15. 5 out of 5

    John

    Fascinating book where two rad old men talk about their rad old lives. Lots of cool stuff in here about how they think about education, social change, and living life. Totally fun, and seems like it'd be useful if you're at all interested in empowering the people around you and/or education or just how some very interesting people thought and lived their lives. Reading this book kicked off a whole swarm of poorly-formed thoughts about how to live my life. I want to re-read this book in a few mont Fascinating book where two rad old men talk about their rad old lives. Lots of cool stuff in here about how they think about education, social change, and living life. Totally fun, and seems like it'd be useful if you're at all interested in empowering the people around you and/or education or just how some very interesting people thought and lived their lives. Reading this book kicked off a whole swarm of poorly-formed thoughts about how to live my life. I want to re-read this book in a few months- hopefully it will help those thoughts fall into place. If this plan works I'll come back and update to a 5.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sean Estelle

    What a banger. The format of “speaking a book” must be my new favorite - especially when it’s absorbing the reflections of these two militants. Absolutely essential reading on the differences between education and organizing, political development, building structures, and so much more. And reading this right after Pedagogy of the Oppressed helped solidify so many of the lessons from that text as well.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rod Endacott

    These two men get it . . . there is no change by applying the same old same old. Change comes by DOING TOGETHER. Particularly as at Miles's school 'Highlander' in Tennessee, I imagined, finally, the embodiment of the truthful saying "Work is love made manifest". Again and again I found myself reveling in his indomitable spirit. Rod

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I gave this five stars because I would like to return to it someday. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to learn about Myles Horton and the Highlander School (I'd already known quite a bit about Paolo Freire, who's in dialogue with him here). The deep non-attachment to the power structures of traditional education here are inspiring and challenging.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Karina Scott

    Freire and Horton discuss, at length, the importance of education and social change. How reading should be a wonderful thing for children should want to do and should not be messed up into the punishment system. Reading must be a loving act. The importance of life learning in addition to book learning.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas

    A transcribed conversation between Miles Horton of Highlander and Paulo Freire the subversive educator from Brazil. They discuss their histories and beliefs about transformative education and its place in creating political and social change. this makes Freire's ideas much of accessible than his own writing, and exposes us to Myles Horton whose work is so important but he wrote almost nothing.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Macfrickins

    I highly recommend this book for anyone who would like to learn something about teaching without top-down hierarchy. Only one thing bothered me, that Myles Horton had more space than Paulo Freire, but the message is there, even with this disproportion.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    This was a good refresher of Friere and an introduction to Horton for me. I was not familiar with the Highlander project and this has inspired further readings. I enjoyed the conversational tone and content of this work.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tony

    A revealing and important conversation between two revolutionaries and their fight for education and social change. Anyone involved in grassroots movements, organizing, advocacy, education—well, any field—should read this conversation!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Adrien Leatherwood

    I read this book for a class. I found it very hard follow in the beginning due to the way it was written (and I felt like they were rambling). There are some interesting points but overall not very riveting.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Iris

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this casual, honest conversation between two educators and trailblazers. Unlike many books on education and social change, this one is down-to-earth, easy to understand, and inspiring.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    Every teacher should read this.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Graham Mumm

    Indoctrinate...divide...destroy...repeat. Sophistry at it's finest.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mai Ali

    My favorite and highly recommended for practitioners!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Klelly

    I started reading this in amandas home a long while ago! then liz took it out of the penn library for me. friend book hook ups. This is basically a long dialogue between two educators with radical visions for social change. Approaches of each center peoples experience in making decisions that will affect their lives, learning to analyze critically their own situations. So many of Myle's words were just loose enough for me to actually imagine how things went at highlander, and also apply those id I started reading this in amandas home a long while ago! then liz took it out of the penn library for me. friend book hook ups. This is basically a long dialogue between two educators with radical visions for social change. Approaches of each center peoples experience in making decisions that will affect their lives, learning to analyze critically their own situations. So many of Myle's words were just loose enough for me to actually imagine how things went at highlander, and also apply those ideas to education projects and group situations in my own life.. (speaking to the process, the vision and realities of people, rather than a specific technique or methodology.) notes & quotes: If you believe in something you have to practice it. Sharing and learning by doing. The guise of "neutrality" as a means of accepting and therefore in some way profiting off of the status quo, in other words a way for one to hide their choices. The practice and importance of developing a democratic mindset. Thinking outside of conventional frameworks and the need for experimenting with ideas.. as this pertains to people who are interested in human values. Spoke to many places where people have responded less successfully. "life had to go out, not turn in. i discarded uptopian communities," missionary-esque programs, and reforms- having to fit into the capitalist system and within the confines of respectability and social approval. "I think the poor and the people who can't read or write have a sense that without structural change nothing is worth getting really excited about. They know much more clearly than intellectuals do that reforms don't reform. They've been the guinea pigs for too many programs." "You have to bootleg education. You have to find a way to bootleg it. Its illegal, because it's not proper, but you do it anyway." -horton "Being a progressive means to deepen the connection with the masses of people, means to respect the beliefs of the people, means to consult the people, means to start from the letters and words with which the people are starting the process of education" -friere

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I read this book in college, and decided to re-read it as part of my re-engagement with the ideas of Paulo Freire and Myles Horton in my social work curriculum. I kept remarking that our texts continually referenced Freire (not so much Horton) but we weren't reading Freire, whose work is really lyrical and intellectually dense. I'm so happy that I re-read this text, as I had forgotten anything beyond overarching impressions it made on me, and perhaps never even really absorbed the specificity of I read this book in college, and decided to re-read it as part of my re-engagement with the ideas of Paulo Freire and Myles Horton in my social work curriculum. I kept remarking that our texts continually referenced Freire (not so much Horton) but we weren't reading Freire, whose work is really lyrical and intellectually dense. I'm so happy that I re-read this text, as I had forgotten anything beyond overarching impressions it made on me, and perhaps never even really absorbed the specificity of what the authors were saying. In this reading, I found that I was looking more deeply for their discussions of methodology and context-specific applications of their work. Previously, I was looking for ideas about how to engage with the concept of expertise and knowledge production from the standpoint of those who are not called upon to provide either. Horton and Freire both deal with this explicitly and sensitively. In my current curriculum, we are learning specific strategies to implement the thinking of Freire and Horton, and I have personally expanded my engagement with this process beyond the classroom and am attempting to plan for a group that includes many of these principles. That's a good part of the reason why I revisited this text - not just to engage with ideas but to implement them! I also really like their conceptualization of the educator as guide and an authority, but not an authoritarian figure - and of the idea that education can and should happen outside of the classroom, not just with youth but with adults. I could go into much more depth on this book, but suffice to say it's an inspirational text with myriad practical applications.

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