Knowledge and Experience.

WHAT: Horton and Freire express the importance of education. They both believe that education is a key part to an individual’s knowledge. In order to truly understand something and gain knowledge, one must practice. Freire writes, “But I also know that without practice there’s no knowledge; at least it’s difficult to know without practice.” (98). This expresses the importance of practice. Without practice, one can never truly understand or learn. Practice doesn’t just apply to rereading a certain text until you memorize it. It can also mean to physically do something or experience something. For example, as a kid, I would always watch basketball videos in order to learn the fundamentals. I would watch these videos over and over again until I remembered the perfect angles and networking it took to shoot a perfect shot. After that, I thought I got it down, but as soon as I actually shot a basketball on the court, I would miss. A lot. It took me hours and hours of physically shooting the basketball and thinking about the fundamental in my head until I finally got my own “rhythm” for shooting. Even to this day, as a coach, I still miss shots and I still have to think back to my fundamentals and practice them. Practice makes perfect and creates knowledge and “knowledge grows from and is a reflection of social experience” (xvi). This applies to anything.

Next, the writers both talk about theory. They describe theory as a perception of the things being taught. It is a way of explaining something. Theory comes from practice and reality. Freire writes, “Knowledge is changed to the extent that reality also moves and changes. Then theory also does the same” (101). Once you practice something and gain knowledge, your knowledge can change and grow and as it does, the theory behind that can change also. At Rotacare, I theorized about what I was going to experience before I started. Then I actually went and served for my first time and my previous knowledge and theories changed. Working with our community partners gives us the opportunity to “practice” so that we can gain “knowledge” and develop a “theory.”

SO WHAT: Freire and Horton both view neutrality as problematic. Freire writes, “In being neutral, you are just hiding your choice because it seems possible to be neutral in a relationship between the oppressors and the oppressed” (103). Horton has similar views on neutrality and writes, “Neutrality is just following the crowd. Neutrality is just being what the system asks us to be” (102). Freire believes that neutrality is a way of avoiding a conflict or confrontation while Horton believes that neutrality is taking the side of a dominant view because most people are on that side. Taking the side of neutrality can affect the lives of many people because it puts those neutral people’s opinions in the shadows. For example, I know many people who just voted for Hilary Clinton for president just because their parents or friends were, but in reality, some actually supported Trump. They were afraid to be known as a Trump supporter, so they decided to be neutral and just vote for the Clinton, who majority of their family and friends were voting for. This would be an example of Freire and Horton’s definition of neutrality. To avoid confrontation, they decided to take the side of the dominant viewpoint. The problem with neutrality is that their opinion isn’t being brought to light. It creates a gray scale among the black and white. Personally, I don’t really take a neutral scale on things. I’m a black and white person. I either support it or I don’t, but I am aware of the opposing side. I don’t reject one side just because I believe in the other. I understand the facts of the other side and accept their opinion regardless of my stance. Ultimately, I believe everyone should voice their opinion, whether it agrees or disagrees with others, because one voice can make a difference. It only takes one person to speak up in order to make a difference.

The WOKE presenters spoke about being able to freely speak in a safe space. They expressed the importance of dialogue and speaking freely and openly. Speaking openly can be very liberating and free for the person. I know that when I spoke during the presentation and shared my story, I felt like a weight lifted off of my shoulders. I also felt inspired and humbled when hearing my classmates and the WOKE presenters share their stories, especially since some of them looked like it was rather difficult to speak. I believe at Rotacare, my community partner, the people there give the patients their voices. It allows them to say, “Hey. I’m here and I need healthcare. I’m still human.” Just because those individuals can’t afford healthcare doesn’t mean that their voices should be in the shadows.

NOW WHAT: Experiences and struggles are what shape a person and how they engage with their communities. I grew up living two different lives. One life was poor, living in Oakland with an alcoholic birth mother and her husband. The other live was rich, living in Vallejo with a very successful father and stepmother. Having experience from both poles of social classes has shaped me into the person I am today. Although I admit I am pretty spoiled by my father and stepmother, I still know what it is like to struggle to stay afloat. My birth mother and her husband were poor and we often times would have to stay with my auntie, my birth mother’s sister, since my birth mother and her husband moved in and out of different apartment complexes. Regardless of those experiences, it has taught me how to be humble and appreciate of what I have. It has also taught me how to efficiently budget my money and time, but that is beside the point. Another significant experience in my life was playing basketball. Basketball was my life from 4th grade to 12th grade. I played on three teams year round and while going to school. I played basketball 6 days a week, whether it was practice or games. I even had double practices some days. Now with the amount of sports I was playing on a daily basis came with it many aches, pains and injuries. I was constantly in and out of the hospital for sprained ankles, broken thumbs, strained tendons, etc. My most significant injury was tearing all of my ligaments in my knee, which required a reconstructive surgery to repair. The amount of time I spent in the hospital allowed me to get close with many doctors, nurses and technicians. Seeing the way the staff was able to examine and diagnose my injuries was inspiring. They were so caring and thorough with my injuries, making sure I was back to playing basketball as soon as possible. Seeing this lit a fire in my soul to pursue the medical field, specifically as a trauma doctor.

Using what I learned from my experiences has let me view the world from different perspectives. At Rotacare, I see many patients who are poor and struggling to stay afloat, much like the way my birth mother was. It is important to create relationships with the patients in order to make them feel cared for, just like the way my doctors and I did. The more connections I made, the easier it was to communicate my feelings, something that was always difficult for me growing up. This colloquium class and community partner engagement has enhanced not only my education, but also my already burning passion for my career goals. The class has taught me to be more open and communicate more. It’s taught me that perspective is very important as well. Similarly, the WOKE presenters spoke about how communication was an integral part of understanding others. Overall, this class has had a positive effect on me.