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Notes for Monday, November 9

jschlosser's picture


I'd like to pick up where we left off, thinking about education and challenge to society as a starting point. To return to the notes from last week: Thinking about education and empowerment, I'd like to start with this quote from James Baldwin's "A Talk to Teachers":

"Precisely at the point when you begin to develop a conscience, you must find yourself at war with your society. It is your responsibility to change society if you think of yourself as an educated person."

How does this prompt you to think about what we've been doing in the jail? Or experiences of education in your own lives?



Our experimental essayists, to whom I'll allot thirty minutes apiece: Rosa, Madison, & Tong (on the Freedom Summer readings) and Han (on Evans, making a transition to next week).



A few closing themes on which I'd like to touch if we have time:

1. What do you make of the connection between personal transformation and social transformation evident in Freedom Summer? Can one really transform personally without social transformation of some kind?

2. And what do you make of the personal price of change? Returning to Baldwin's quote, if education leads to war on society then how can one live well in that society?



Anne Dalke's picture

I'm writing from the National Conference on Higher Education in Prison, which Jody and I are attending in Pittsburgh this weekend. I'm in a session just now about a program being offered in Georgia, which is explicitly focused on the the individual skills needed to bring about social change (or: reversing the question-and-answer Joel poses above: not "Can one really transform personally without social transformation of some kind?" but, "Can one really bring about social transformation without personal change?"). Also wanted to note that one of the really inspirational talks I've heard (from the large number of incarcerated and formerly incarerated people participating here) began with the Baldwin quote above, about the paradox that, as a person becomes educated, they begin to examine (and go to war with) the world in which they have been educated.