Freire on writing

Just came across this passage in Freire’s First Letter, in Teachers as Cultural Workers:

"If we think about the intimate relationship between reading, writing, and thinking and about our need to intensely experience this relationship, we might accept the suggestion that at least three times a week we should devote ourselves to the task of writing something.  That writing could be notes about something read, a commentary about some event reported in the media, a letter to an unknown person – it doesn’t matter what.  It is also a good idea to date and keep these writings and, a few months later, to critically analyze them." (p. 25)

I have to say that this passage reminded me very strongly of what blogging has done for my writing, and I know for others as well.  Now, the last thing I want to do is take Freire’s critical project and boil it down to a how-to list – I’m not saying  "Freire says blog, so blog!"  But my experience with blogging goes precisely to his larger point, which is that young children learn to fear (a school-ish concept of) writing as a burden and a difficulty.  When our writing doesn’t conform to certain standards, templates, or expectations, we tell ourselves that we’re not good writers, and this stops us writing on a regular basis, sometimes well into adulthood. 

Blogging, on the other hand, was such a casual and unthreatening activity – hardly writing at all!  (Again, this just goes to show the extent to which the notion of writing had been co-opted by a sanctioned, academic definition.) Ironically, this very activity of casual writing has made it easier for me to write formal and informal texts – as Freire said, "Nobody can write who never writes, just as one cannot swim who never swims."

(And as a sidenote, what I wrote above is another way of expressing why I am often  skeptical of many ways that blogs are used in the classroom; because students have been conditioned to look at writing a certain way, plopping a blog down into the classroom with the expectation that you’re going to get "blog-like" or informal writing just strikes me as being improbable – particularly in a classroom where everything else, from the atmosphere of face to face meetings, to the syllabus, to the other course expectations, reflects an atmosphere of formal schooling.  When I’m feeling more negative, I would call it a blatant co-optation, much in the same way writing has been co-opted by school.  This isn’t always the case, though; I explored some of these ideas in more detail in this conference presentation.)



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2 responses to “Freire on writing

  1. lmv

    i love the link to freire. and the notion that “blogging…is hardly writing at all!”

  2. EJT

    I’m an elementary education student and one of our requirements is to read other educators’ blogs and reflect on them in our own blogs. Your post really made me reconsider my attitude toward blogging and I talked about it in my blog. Thanks!

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