No, sir, but I ain’t lost!

Put some time aside this weekend to finish my reading of We Make The Road By Walking and caught up with fellow readers’ commentary from the past couple weeks.  So many great things coming out of this insightful group, like:

Google Docs + mashup via: @cogdog & @acroom

Annotation mobs via: @telliowkuwp

An emergence of Antigonish 2.0  via: @bonstewart

Making The Conversation By Talking via: @acroom@amcollier

Some of my highlights from Chapters 3-6:

Academicians, politicians, all the people that are supposed to be guiding this country say you’ve got to be neutral. As soon as I started looking at that word neutral and what it meant, it became very obvious to me there can be no such thing as neutrality. It’s a code word for the existing system. It has nothing to do with anything but agreeing to what is and will always be-that’s what neutrality is. Neutrality is following the crowd. Neutrality is just being what the system asks us to be. Neutrality, in other words, was an immoral act … Of course, when I got more into thinking about educational ideas and about changed society, it became more and more obvious that you’ve got to take sides. You need to know why you take sides; you should be able to justify it.


I’d say if you were working with an organization and there’s a choice between the goal of that organization, or the particular program they’re working on, and educating people, developing people, helping them grow, helping them become able to analyze if there’s a choice, we’d sacrifice the goal of the organization for helping the people grow, because we think in the long run it’s a bigger contribution.


There’s a mountain story of a traveling salesman here in the mountains. He got lost and he didn’t know which way to go. He found a little boy beside the road, and he said, “Hey there son, do you know the way to Knoxville?” The boy said, “No, sir.” And he said, “Do you know the way to Gatlinburg?” “No, sir.” Well, he said, “Do you know the way to Sevier-ville?” The boy said, “No, sir.” And he said, “Boy, you don’t know much, do you?” “No, sir, but I ain’t lost!”


Starting from people’s experiences, and not from our understanding of the world, does not mean that we don’t want the people to come with us in order to go beyond us afterward. This movement for me is one of the many important roles of a progressive educator, and it is not always so easy.


Conflicts are the midwife of consciousness.


… one of the virtues we have to create in ourselves as progressive educators is the virtue of humility.


We concluded that reform within the system reinforced the system, or was co-opted by the system. Reformers didn’t change the system, they made it more palatable and justified it, made it more humane, more intelligent. We didn’t want to make that contribution to the schooling system. But we knew if we worked outside the system, we would not be recognized as educators, because an educator by definition was somebody inside the schooling system. Nevertheless, we decided we’d work outside the system and be completely free to do what we thought was the right thing to do in terms of the goals that we set for ourselves and the people we were working for.


I don’t accept that the school in itself is bad. We need to go beyond a metaphysical understanding of the school. For me the school is a social and historical institution, and in being a social and historical institution, the school can be changed. But the school can be changed not exclusively by a decree, but by a new generation of teachers, of educators who must be prepared, trained, formed.


Low periods are a good time to work out the techniques and ways of involving people, ways of having people begin to use critical judgments.


In Chapter 6 Myles makes the comment:

“Those who refuse to share their knowledge with other people are making a great mistake, because we need it all. I don’t have any problem about ideas I got from other people. If I find them useful, I’ll just ease them right in and make them my own.”

Sounds like Creative Commons …



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *