We Make The Road By Walking

We Make The Road By Walking

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This book is an absolutely phenomenal first-hand account of Horton's and Freire's progress in educational reform and social change. From descriptions of Horton's Highlander school and its contributions to the civil rights movement, to Freire's philosophies on education and civic duty, this book was captivating in every sense of the word. Freire and Horton instill in the reader the values of both educational and civic responsibility that are found in few books today. The interview format made the book very easy to understand. Both men were obviously committed to making their views clear to the reader.
In the beginning, Horton and Freire discuss the format of the book and how they will proceed with their dialogue. They introduce the setting and talk about their perspectives on book writing. This introduction is essential in order for the reader to understand what follows, since this format is not common. The authors do not outline specific sections of the book at the beginning; rather they let the conversation flow in an order that seems natural at that time. Although I feel that the structure of the book seems very confusing to me when I try to recall who was saying what and projects a set clear lack of structure.
Formative Years
The second chapter, "Formative Years," is a delight for readers who, like me, enjoy hearing others' stories and how they got to be where they are today. This section gives an in-depth background on the context in which Horton and Freire grew up and the major influences on their lives. Some of the points highlighted in this chapter include Freire's concept of "reading words and reading the world" (p. 31), distinction between "having authority and being authoritarian" (p. 61), Horton's emphasis on the importance of learning from the people and from each other (p. 41), and their agreement that education is not neutral (p. 64). The stories provided by both authors to illustrate these points projects great examples for the reader, from which each reader can reflect back on our own history to identify how we came to hold the ideas we have today.
The third chapter is an overview of the theories and perspectives of the authors. The main points that are discussed in this section include Horton's articulation of the importance of having a broad vision of where you are going (p.

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100) and Freire's similar concept of the need to have political clarity as an educator (p. 101). Another important point is the authors' expression of the difference between educators and organizers, with both Horton and Freire identifying themselves as educators (pp. 115-119). In addition the points are made on the role of the educator, not as an expert, but as one who intervenes in order to help people to develop their capacity to make decisions (pp. 125-138). This chapter is effective in outlining some of the main theories espoused by the authors, but is not explicit whether there are any differences in their opinions. It may have been useful to clearly highlight a concept and then have each author specifically comment and explain his position. Also, one important factor that was not explained is that these educators are targeting different audiences. Horton was educating those already involved in social movements in some way, while Freire was typically working with the general public (p. 184). I feel that this could be more clearly stated in order to explain the different approaches and theories of these two educators.
Educational Practice
Chapter four is an outline of many concepts and methods in education, two of which are Highlander's approach of ‘doing' an idea and reflecting on it afterwards and Freire's approach of teaching people how to analyze by focusing on a particular content (p. 172). It is also important to note the differences between Freire and Horton in relation to the term ‘education. Whereas in Freire's definition education includes working within the school system as well as outside of it, Horton's definition refers to "education in contrast to schooling" (p. 182). I have mentioned only a few concepts from this chapter as there were many theories highlighted with most of them only briefly mentioned. I found the breadth of theories quite overwhelming and many of them were not clearly elaborated. Although much of this section was enlightening for me, the lack of clear distinction between these ideas and practices left me unsure of the differences and similarities of the authors' approaches. This section that, according to the title, is a focus on practice, often reverts back to a discussion of theories and ideas. I finished this chapter with a feeling that I would like to hear more of the actual methods and techniques used by Horton and Freire in their work as educators.

Education and Social Change
The fifth section explores the debate surrounding working inside versus outside of ‘the system,' referring to both the school system and the dominant system in society. Horton says that "reform within the system reinforced the system, or was co-opted by the system" (p. 200). Here he is referring to the school system, as is clarified later in the chapter (p.203). In contrast, Freire believes that educators should "fight against the system taking the two fronts, the one internal to the schooling system and the one external to the schooling system," which is the social system (p. 203). In this section Freire also examines the use of education for social change in the Base Christian Community movement, as well as during and after the Nicaraguan revolution (p. 209-221). In this section I found Freire's thought processes somewhat difficult to follow. In a previous chapter he actually refers to his circular way of talking and explains, "This is my way of working, of thinking. First I try to make a circle so the issue can't escape" (p. 156). This explanation reminds me that different cultures have various forms or styles of speaking. An awareness of these differences is useful when reading through this book, as Freire's style of talking may be unfamiliar to some readers.
The final section of this book reflects back on the author's motivations to continue to forge on with their work. Through stories of sorrow and laughter Horton and Paulo present the read with what forged them to be who they are today.
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