Folk Schools, Popular Education, and a Pedagogy of Community Action

  • William Westerman


What can make pedagogy revolutionary is not just the content, but the process, and the question of who is the teacher and who is the student. There are the dualities-reading/writing, listening/speaking, answering/questioning, accepting/investigating—but in much formal schooling, equal emphasis is not given to both halves of an engaged communicative process. Conceivably, though not always, teaching and studying can exist in a dialogic relationship that in itself is a revolutionary reformulation of the standard classroom technique. Beyond that, occasionally the educational process can lead to further action and to social change. This chapter concerns itself with the act of study as a proto- and prerevolutionary act, an act of questioning and an act of challenging the existing social order. More accurately, this essay addresses historical examples when the act of study was a force advancing a revolutionary process. In fact, the kind of pedagogy I discuss is one in which the student’s actions and questions, and the authority of daily life, are given a primacy that they do not have in static educational models.


Social Reality Popular Culture Oral History Base Community Liberation Theology 
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© E. Thomas Ewing 2005

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  • William Westerman

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