Reading is not walking on the words…

“Reading is not walking on the words; it’s grasping the soul of them.”
Paulo Freire

I got a phone call from Joni’s school to find out whether anyone was coming to collect him.  This was a surprise since Joni has been going to and from school by himself for the last three years without anyone minding.  So I said that Joni normally comes home on his own and indeed that I was a bit surprised that he hadn’t arrived yet;

“But it’s raining…”

But as far as I’ve been advised, the human body doesn’t actually dissolve in water.  And the Chevrolet Corsa has a design feature that puts the air filter as low to the road as possible, and San Francisco city centre floods within a few minutes of any downpour, the combination of which means that the time we would be least likely to use the car is when it’s raining.

This is the school where not a single member of staff has asked whether Danny is even still alive, let alone how he is doing since he moved schools, despite the fact that several parents of his former classmates have asked after him.  So I find the cynical side of me isn’t sure how far school is really concerned about Joni’s well-being, and how far they are just fulfilling some sort of “duty of care”, which ironically often seems to mean more or less the opposite of actually caring.

Meanwhile, at another school across town.  We put up our big paddling pool the other weekend (which is why it has been raining ever since) and Danny spent most of a bank holiday in it, ending up with a pink nose and shoulders as a result.  He went in to school the day after and told his teacher how he got sun-burnt;

“I’m red now, but soon I will turn brown, like him”, pointing to his class-mate.  We love Danny’s school.  It is a warm, friendly establishment, in the middle of an estate with some significant issues; San Francisco police have a satellite specialist domestic violence unit just across the square from the school entrance.  This gives the school an undeserved low reputation, and the score of white skinned, blonde haired pupils currently stands at one, so to him it’s just quite normal that everyone else is browner than he is.  As his teacher said, he wasn’t even being derrogatory, just practical.

Meanwhile at yet another educational establishment some six hours away, I took the first of my university subject exams at the national university of Rio Cuarto last week.  Pedagogy was the subject with the biggest pile of reading so it is good to have it out of the way, leaving four subjects to go.  They said;

“It’s clear that you know what you know, we can see you’ve done the reading, and that you’re able make conceptual links between the material but it would have been good if you had gone into a bit more depth”.  I didn’t tell them that I’d told them everything I know, and that I didn’t have any more depth available to go into.  For the next two subjects I have to present written projects, and then the last two are back to traditional wade through pile of reading followed by exam format.  The staff were very good to me, they reminded me of the teaching staff on my MSc at Manchester, and with similar standpoints on disability politics too.  It’s a shame Rio Cuarto is so far away as I’d have liked to get to know them better, especially since they’re also participating in some relatively sparky stuff with disabled people setting up workers’ cooperatives in the south of the province, which might have been fun to get involved with.   Would it even be possible in oh-so-conservative San Francisco…

Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.

– Paulo Freire