NLA Discussion: EFF, Dewey, Freire, Politics of Lit, etc.
bryden at csus.edu
Mon Sep 28 12:04:29 EDT 1998
I have really enjoyed this discussion. I, too, have a poster on EFF up on a
wall that I have been pondering since last Spring. I teach a course for
learning disabled students at a community college. Some of the students in
my class would fall into the "College Prep" category. Others are from
CalWorks (what used to be the GAIN Program) and Rehab.
My philosophy of teaching has become more and more "minimalist" over the
past four years. I prefer to focus instruction on what has been called
"bottom-up" skills of decoding, comprehending, and utilizing text and
somehow encourage the students to handle the "top-down" part of designing
their curriculum with less and less input from me. I am not a consumer of
workbooks and other such educational packages. I would prefer that, as
teachers, we'd be willing to work ourselves out of a job rather than
support growth of a literacy education industry.
Ideally, I would like to see my students each come up with their own EFF
standards. As it is, I believe the EFF standards were developed with adult
learner input, but what should be considered a rather limited sample for a
national study. I agree with Anson and Andres that the worker role map
represents a managerial perspective rather than that of a worker. But I am
very glad that there finally is an established movement towards greater
learner participation and responsibility instead of just "we know what's
best for you".
Philosophically, I see the issue as pivoted on an axis of "compassion"
versus "pity", or "friendship" versus "authoritative advisement", or, in
terms of instruction, providing support for the independence of thought
versus "the non-thought of received ideas". I feel that both Freire and
Dewey desired to move in this direction, but it is a direction that runs
totally counter to the self-preservation of bureaucracies -- not just
agencies, colleges, etc. but the "professions", such as medicine, education
and administration, as Ivan Illich pointed out in his idea of a "radical
A focus on outcomes is not much different than a focus on test scores
because it is clear who will get the right to declare when the discussion
is over, who is going to have the final say, the summative judgment... it's
still not the learners.
Adjunct Faculty, Sacramento City College
Learning (dis)Abilities Program
Diane Bryden mailto:bryden at csus.edu
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