Express Yourself, You Might Change the World

WHAT: The relationship between practice, theory, and knowledge is a circle that is never ending. To fully understand a person, we must understand where they are coming from in each of these aspects. Freire and Horton state, “It means to understand the way they speak, their syntax, their semantics. Then secondly we have to invent with the people the ways for them to go beyond their state of thinking” (98). This begins the process of understanding a whole person and why they do, what they do. We learn from experience and then are able to decide what we want our focus of life to be. Theory is decided after learning from experience. To fully grasp this, we must be capable of putting ourselves into a different perspective. Freire and Horton mention, “We as popular educators begin to walk in a circle, without the possibility of going beyond the circle, without going beyond a man’s theory of why we do not go beyond” (98–99). If we are subjected to walking in this theoretical circle, we will never learn. We will not have the chance to build a life for ourselves. Again, we learn from our experiences and that is what shapes our outlook on life. The presenters from WOKE also mentioned the importance of reflecting on what we have been through and how it affects our lives. This shows that we gain knowledge by our practice, which determines what theory we adopt in our lives. It is a foundation of life and how our actions will affect us in the end.

SO WHAT: To maintain neutrality when regarding a social issue is to look the other way and go with the flow of things. In my opinion, this is not acceptable because if there is something a person can do to fight the issue, then it should be done without hesitation. Freire and Horton state, “Neutrality is just following the crowd. Neutrality is just being what the system asks us to be” (102). When a person is not willing to express their choices and perspective, they will remain neutral. They will blend in with the crowd and hide in the shadows. Everyone has an opinion and they should feel comfortable to express their feelings, instead of keeping it hidden. For me, this is something that I have been taught not to do. My opinion on neutrality is simple. I firmly believe that if we were to constantly remain neutral about issues that bothered us the most, our world would be a very sad and unjust place. There is a need for change that is past the general population’s opinion. We need to dig deeper. Freire and Horton said, “From then on I’ve been more concerned with structural changes than I have with changing hearts of people” (103). Neutrality at my community partner site would result in stagnation of the issue of homelessness. Issues need to be addressed and acted upon in order to change for the better. Freire and Horton mention, “People sometimes say they’re afraid to do that for fear they’ll impose their ideas on people” (106). There is a fear of being imposing opinions, but there is not a fear of what social issues are doing to a person’s mental and physical state. If people were to remain neutral about the issue of homelessness, the Ritter Center would not be a functioning establishment. They would not have the donations, resources, and outside help to maintain the services they provide to the people who are homeless.

NOW WHAT: Growing up, I knew that I have always wanted to help people, regardless of how I did it. I grew up with an older brother with my parents, and they have always had to pay a little more attention to him. This may seem like nothing to a lot of people, but it has reinforced my drive to make sure everyone I encounter feels like they are heard and are important. In this colloquium, we are focusing on the people who are not heard out in today’s society, which is very important to me. The service learning requirement in this class acts as an outlet for me to make time to give back to a community that has been put down for simply making efforts to survive this harsh world. Freire and Horton mention, “I don’t see any problem with taking a position” (107). Stating my opinion and acting on what I believe in has been very impactful in my life. Having something to believe in and fight for gives me life, it gives me a reason to hope for a better future. The presenters from WOKE showed the importance of not being afraid to voice opinions and learn from others. I related to the presenters from WOKE tremendously. Through the social biography activity, they proved that we are important because of where we came from, which is something that people are constantly being put down for. They emphasized the importance of listening to others and being listened to.