Education, Communication, and the Human Spirit
Challenges for a Democratizing World
Paper presented to the Fourth Annual Kent State University Symposium on Democracy
A healthy public life is vital in the continuing struggle
toward freedom and equality for all people.
But that movement does not begin with politics,
with the formal institutions of government.
It begins with the simple opportunities for public interaction;
the chance to meet strangers, to deal with fear and conflict,
to realize and celebrate our diversity and the unity that lies beneath it.
—Parker Palmer (1991)
February 15, 2003, marked a seminal milepost in the long
progress toward the realization of the democratic potential of humanity. On
those dates, millions of people marched throughout the world in the streets of
hundreds of cities, both large and small, united in their opposition to a
planned war on
Yet, the marchers were also connected by an underlying unity of purpose, a recognition that they could transcend difference to work toward common goals. This recognition (meaning “the act of knowing again”) came not at the top, but at the foundation. Men, women and children, of different races, classes, and social positions, across the major continents of the world acted out of what they believed to be a common interest. They consolidated their concerns by embracing a sense of solidarity of purpose while transcending their apparent differences, their senses of “Otherness.” External difference of class, race, and nationality were subsumed beneath a global recognition of sameness.
They brought to life on a global
scale the “Power of the Powerless,” the ability of people, working together, to
affect the affairs of their times. That idea had once been imagined by Czech
playwright Václav Havel (1986) and had been acted upon by the people of
This time, however, the action was in
“Democracy” is, at its core, a system of mediating difference: of opinion, of assumption, of support, of policy, of direction. It provides a place for exchanging ideas, actions, policies, goals, and means between people who have differing frames of reference, experiences, fears, desires. Any democratic form1 stands on the ability of people to recognize and support difference—whether of individual persons or groups—while also embracing a sense of underlying connection between the actors. It replaces force and coercion with dialogue and compromise. Democracy works as a system of governance that assumes humankind comprises various persons and groups who must work together and make decisions together in order to live together in peace.
The Age of Globalization has provided, for the first time in the human experience, each and all of us the opportunities to expand beyond ourselves, our nationalities and our cultures to embrace the limitless sense of possibility of Otherness grounded in the realization of Unity. We now can know about, could interact with, and must account for people who have had entirely different sets of experiences than we have, people whose assumptions and frames of reference about life may be at great odds with our own. Due to globalization, each of us has to adapt to an expanded world in which we can know about others, they can know about us, and each of us will have to account for the others in order to live together.
With new, inexpensive and ubiquitous media of communication at their disposal, ever-greater numbers of people have the ability to enter into dialogues with one another as they seek to reconcile their desires.2 The more we communicate with one another through respectful dialogue,3 the more we can discover the universality of our own desires; we are, in essence, one in this Spirit. A new, globalized democratic ethic will be based, therefore, on the mediation of these unifying desires in the myriad ways in which we experience the world. We can imagine a new foundation phrase for the globalized democratic experience: “De unus Pluribum” (Out of One, Many). In so doing, we can emerge from the fear of the Others as potentially hostile forces to embrace them as our equals in their ability for laughter, fear, pain and joy.
Each of us has a unique path in the realization of these desires, but all of us must work together to mediate our actions to their attainment. This is where a democratic polity in the age of globalization is something new. This age has afforded us unprecedented means by which to know about, and to learn from, each other’s desires, interests, and fears. Global telecommunication has allowed us to comprehend experiences from any point on the globe in virtual simultaneous real time. Global transportation has allowed us to create and to utilize goods from any point to any point more cheaply and more quickly than has ever before been possible. These two advancing technologies have allowed us to imagine both material and political globalization.
Yet, we have been slow to recognize the potential for a profound reconceptualization of education at the same time. Where, for example, American history and social studies had been taught as a two-dimensional experience framed in the interests of economic and political elites (FitzGerald 1979), we can imagine new ways of seeing the past that incorporate different lived experiences of workers, of women, and of racial and ethnic minorities among others (Zinn 1999). With the expansion of voices to be heard through the newly globalized media, whole new ways of framing issues, of reconciling the fractures and the pains of the past, and of imagining a more unified future become more possible (such as has been the case with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in postapartheid South Africa. See Villa-Vicencio 2001). We no longer have the luxury of educating our children in a society in which only one form of being, or one means of expression, dominates. We must now provide educational space and support for them to learn what it means to negotiate their way through a world in which different ways of knowing, based upon divergent systems of understanding, are made more manifest every day. The globalization of experience made possible by the reach of telecommunications means that we can now learn, we must now learn, how to negotiate among different peoples, all of whom have legitimate rights for self-expression and self-determination.
Every human being is a precious part of a greater whole; each person brings unique experiences, talents, and potentials to add to us all. Each of us comes to life as the result of the actions of others. Each of us is connected to a variety of others as we grow. Each of us makes meaning with every thing we see, hear, taste, touch, smell, experience. Each of us provides meaning by acting in, and upon, the world. We are both solitary and social animals, individual persons making our ways in the world while being linked to one another biologically, culturally, and historically. Each of us is both spider and fly in the web of human experience.
The important thing to recognize is that our linkages to others, whomever those Others may be, connect each of us to the great chain of meaning and purpose we call life. As James Carey has observed, life is like a great, ongoing conversation, which began long before any of us came on the scene, in which we get to participate for a while during our lifetimes, and which will continue long after we are gone. Each of us is a unique part of this conversation, each adding an additional, vital piece to what has come before, and each engaged in transforming the conversation into what it is becoming by our participation in it. Thus, living a meaningful life is, fundamentally, about communication.
The process of communication is a sharing of meaning between sensate beings, about the ways in which we perceive the world. From our places in our mothers’ wombs, we try to derive meaning from the world around us. The fetus can hear and process sound. Once born, the child makes meaning from everything it sees, hears, tastes, touches, smells. We process the impressions we have of the world through our minds. We also make meaning from and through the inner voice which speaks through our hearts for communication is not only a rational process, one of the mind, but it is also a process of filtering what we sense through our emotions, which is the realm of the human heart. Both mind and heart are always interacting as we engage the world. We ignore either at our peril.
We try, in short, to understand (which means, literally, “to stand under”) a higher sense of knowing and of meaning than we, as human beings, can ever fully comprehend. It compels each of us to recognize and, ultimately to accept that we, each and all of us, can know only part of the greater meaning that is out there, somewhere, but to which we are all connected. The scientific method can only take us so far in our knowledge; the rest we can only grasp within a certain degree of uncertainty or, as the physicist Jacob Bronowski (1974) urged, a certain degree of tolerance. One of the great discoveries of twentieth century science was Werner Heisenberg’s principle of uncertainty or tolerance: no matter how much we study, we will always be limited in what we can know, because, as human beings, we are limited, our instruments are limited, and the scope of our understanding is limited. Whatever we look at is profoundly affected by us just in the act of looking. This implies, of course, that we are connected to the objects of our interests—both human and nonhuman things—in ways that we can never fully know.
There is a greater intelligence, a larger universe of meaning, than our minds can ever fully comprehend. Yet, nothing comes to our understanding without the intercession of our minds and our hearts. We therefore must stand under this greater intelligence and meaning, with awe and with humility, as we make our ways through the world, because we know it is bigger than we are, or can ever be. Different faith traditions have differing ways of describing this greater meaning, following different paths to its realization, and I urge you to follow your hearts to comprehend it more fully.
This effort to understand we call a “will toward meaning.” It is inherent to every child, to every man, and to every woman throughout life. Each of us has it, no matter what our abilities are. Some of us have keener eyesight; others hear music more knowingly; some can do complex math problems in their heads while others can’t add simple figures without using a calculator. I look at a stone and I see a stone; a geologist looks at a stone and sees a volcano that once existed; a Michelangelo can look at a stone and see the figure of David lying within. Each of us is uniquely engaged in the never-ending process of trying to derive meaning from, and to give meaning to, the world and to the life we encounter.
Yet, we also know from our earliest moments that we cannot do this alone. There are others out there who are similarly engaged in this process of meaning creation, and that we have something to get from them and, as we grow older, something to share with them. It is a process of give-and-take: I share my meaning with you and you share your meaning with me. It is an in-and-out, back-and-forth process, very much like inhaling and exhaling: we take in, we give out, we make meaning by taking sensory impressions in, and we create meaning by expressing what we think and feel.
Together, we can engage in a process of sharing our interpretations of the world in order to help one another understand better what is going on and what it means. We are all engaged in the process of trying to interpret a world that has no apparent meaning. We can help one another derive greater significance and purpose about what, who, how, when and where in a seemingly chaotic world so that we can better determine WHY. Of none of these will we ever know for sure, but we try, as best we can, to do so in our limited ways. In the sharing of meaning among and between people in order to better comprehend what has been happening where is communication occurs.
Thus, “communication,” coming from the same root word as community, communal or communion, implies a collective presence, a placing of ourselves as members of a wider and larger collection of presence than we alone can be. Communication is, and has to be, a very social process, in which we all are engaged as actors. Without dialogue there is no communication, as the Brazilian educator Paulo Freire wrote (1970), and creating a dialogue means the constructive engagement, of making meaning, between people.
What the globalization of telecommunications technologies has provided for the first time in the human experience has been the ability to see and to feel these connections all over the world. Because of falling costs and ever-simpler means of production, we have been able to “demassify” the mass media (Rosario-Braid 1989). A participant in an antigovernmental demonstration can shoot videos of the demonstration, and use those videos to counter official police reports of what is occurring in real time. Disseminated via an alternative media Web site on the Internet, such as the Independent Media Center (www.indymedia.org/en/index.shtml), or via a satellite distributor to access the programmer Free Speech Television or the program Democracy Now viewers can determine whose reporting is more credible, and why. This first happened in 1999 at the anti–World Trade Organization demonstrations in Seattle during which independent media producers were able to document police violence and disseminate this information around the world as they were happening (Undercurrents 2001). There are now more than one hundred independent media organizations located throughout the world. Their independent use of media allows them to become media actors, not just those on whom media act (Hochheimer 2002).
We can act on the world at the same time. This means that I can interact with people from different cultures, with different histories and expectations of life’s meanings and purposes directly, that is, without the intercession of a church, governmental, or societal hierarchy telling me who those other people are and what their actions mean. I can determine this for myself, and you can determine this for yourself.
Self-determination via media access
has been a growing movement around the world for more than forty years. The
fastest growing media sector in much of the world right now is community-based
radio, which provides outlets for individual voices to be heard as never
before. Meeting in
We consider that it is an established fact that community media, particularly community radio, have given communities the means of cultural expression, news and information, and local dialogue. Radio is the most widespread electronic communications device in the world and a unique means of reaching the world’s poorest communities. Community radio broadcasting is increasingly recognized as a bridge across the digital divide between those who have access to the world’s information resources and those who do not. (AMARC 2003)
However, in doing this, our education must prepare us to deal with things no humans have ever had to deal with before. In the great scheme of things, very few people have ever had to deal directly with people from other cultures, with different voices demanding to be heard, to address issues of concern based on differing cultural, historical and economic assumptions. As the number of voices increases, the space to allow those voices to speak, and to be heard, must increase as well. Few have had to negotiate for cultural space or for political compromise among peoples who have widely divergent experiences and expectations that they bring to the table. For example, quite often the Westerners’ sense of competition in a secular space will contend with the Easterners’ sense of humility in a highly charged religious space. Because neither one is right or wrong, and because there is no universally accepted means of being in the world, our education needs to focus on ever-greater levels of tolerance of difference. This can best be grounded in a spirit of a tolerant search for meaning centered on dialogue and compassion, which means “to suffer together.”
In his book, Man’s Search for
Meaning, the late Viennese psychiatrist, Victor Frankl, addresses these
issues from two perspectives. In part 1, Frankl, an Austrian Jew, writes, as
best he can, about the unspeakable horror he witnessed as a prisoner in several
Nazi concentration camps, including
Yet, in part 2, Frankl says that, in
the midst of all of the pain and suffering, some people were able to find peace
and purpose, even as they were doomed to die in the gas chambers. He writes
that what ultimately saved them was their sense of deriving and creating
meaning from every experience of life. Did you know, for example, that there
were symphony orchestras in
Frankl describes this as “man’s”
search to place meaning on and derive meaning from his worlds.4 Those who do it, he said, live happy,
creative, full lives; they can, and do, survive anything; those who cannot may
well feel trapped by the exigencies of life. He called his approach
“logotherapy,” the effort to create meaning. Once he got out, he emigrated to
The making of meaning, then, is central to the human experience. Applying active meaning-making to the processes of education, therefore, draws upon the experiences, and the skills, of each student, along with those of the teacher. It encourages everyone to participate, to speak, to be heard, to be respected, and to respect each other in the process of mutual support. Involving everyone from a position of strength and experience, it provides for the construction of an inclusive democratic space in which all can learn.
We can best realize the potential for democratic participation by grounding our children in such a learning space called the “pedagogy of meaning.”6 This approach to teaching and learning is grounded on the belief that people can create their own sense of significance and purpose through dialogue around issues they find of importance to them. First, it is dedicated, in the words of Rabbi Michael Lerner (1996), “To create a society that encourages and supports love and intimacy, friendship and community, ethical sensitivity and spiritual awareness among people. . . . In part, it means challenging the instrumental, utilitarian, mechanistic reductionism of thought and the disenchantment of our social experience” (55–56). It also means creating a way of thinking about, and constructing, education in ways that seek to foster interconnectedness of people, with their mutual experience, and with the wisdom derived from that experience. This can only be done through dialogue, tolerance, mutual respect and understanding. It means reintroducing the student journalist or communication practitioner, for example, into the world as participant, not as neutral “objective” observer. I think this can also be more widely drawn into other fields, as well.
Secondly, the “pedagogy of meaning”
is dedicated to the fundamental unity of all people within a community, and
within all communities. It recognizes that everyone’s struggles, while
different in kind, are similar in pain, in uncertainty, in the desire to derive
some sense of purpose in their lives. Rwandans, the Cambodians, the Jews, the
Irish, the Roma, almost all aboriginal people, residents of
The pedagogy of meaning can be placed in recognition of the mutuality of human experience because it is dedicated to what Lerner calls “the primacy of spiritual harmony, loving relationships, mutual recognition, and work that contributes to the common good.” A “pedagogy of meaning” draws on Martin Buber’s contention that, as we move from an “I-It” perspective (in which we treat other people and the world as “objects’“ to an “I-Thou” series of relations (in which we treat others as “subjects” who are as fully equal of love, pain, suffering, struggle, spiritual transcendence, and mutual respect as we are), true “communication,” that is, the sharing of meaning between equal actors, becomes more possible.
Thus, a third goal of a “pedagogy of meaning” is to foster a community dialogue dedicated, in Lerner’s words, “To create the social, spiritual, and psychological conditions that will encourage us to recognize the uniqueness, sanctity, and infinite preciousness of every human being, and to treat them, with caring, gentleness, and compassion.” Most of our students, especially, know all too well what it means to be treated as objects in their classes. A “pedagogy of meaning” can be a transformative instrument for them to share their experiences and to find means of respect and transcendence with one another.
Fourth, a “pedagogy of meaning” can foster the creation of a society that gives people the time, resources, and support to develop their inner lives and to find the underlying unity of all beings. There is a growing movement of students and teachers around the world who sense that there must be something grander, more profound, more meaningful to life than provided by a professional or by a liberal arts education. They seek to connect to some greater sense of meaning and purpose in their lives, and with the lives of others. This, too, can only come from being within a community, rather than from one standing outside of it.
This means that, fifth, a “pedagogy of meaning” can be a tool in the creation of societies in which people encourage one another to relate to the world, and to one another, in awe and joy. This is the spiritual basis of all existence, which can be found in all the faith traditions of the world. As that world becomes increasingly interconnected due to advances in communications and transportation technologies, and with the increasing possibilities for interaction fostered by increased global trade and travel, people can begin to find linkages between their experiences and those of others. This fosters the transcending of barriers, the making of connections, the dismantling of exploitation, the increase of tolerance.
I am sure that much of this sounds all very nice to you, and perhaps it seems utopian. Maybe it also sounds to you like the dreams of someone who has his head in the clouds of some spiritual mumbo-jumbo, and who has no sense of the realities of what people really want from their schools, or from their newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations. Moreover, it may seem that this certainly is nothing that should be discussed in the classroom.
I disagree. I think we are limited only by the self-imposed constraints of our inexperience, not by what is possible and practical. I have seen, read about, and documented too many examples from all over the world of how communication and education have been, and are being, used in communities to transcend, transform, and connect people with the great currents of the human spirit to think otherwise. The “pedagogy of meaning” is grounded in the belief that a fundamental equality of human dignity underlies the process of communications (see Rothermond 1993) and of all learning. As such, this dignity transcends who we are as teachers and students; we all have much to learn from, and much to teach, one another about the breadth and lengths of our experiences.
Each student, each group of students, every member of a community has something to contribute and something to take. All of us have a history, some explicit, some unconscious, that serves to form the ways in which people interact with the world and with one another. Teachers grow as human beings when they learn increasingly to see more fundamentally through the eyes of the people with whom they are working. To seek to know of each student what she or he sees, hears, feels about their history of repression, domination, and struggle, and how we might be able to relate to it, helps decrease the levels of division between us (Hochheimer 2001).
The “pedagogy of meaning” suggests, ultimately, that we think of education as if the lives of our students really mattered (Hochheimer and Dvorak-Hochheimer 1994), as if they, like we, are capable of offering meaning from their experiences, and deriving purpose and meaning from the lives and experiences of others. We can see this in the experience of many different places and times.
Let me offer some examples in which
this has been used as the premise on which to base the practice of journalism
and communication education. For more than twenty years, the Foundation for
Rural Development Through School Radio (Spanish acronym FREDER) operated in
In 1970 and 1971, the South African
Student Organization (SASO) established “formation schools” and
leadership-training seminars. To create a network of community dialogue, foster
a growing awareness of Black Consciousness and disseminate information among
black students, SASO began publishing a newspaper from its headquarters in
In 1989 a group of fourteen- and
fifteen-year old students in
The journalism program at the University of Timisoara, Romania is based on a region-wide oral history project begun in 1993. Its purpose is to document the life experiences and wisdom of elders within their community. They recognized they could use this project as a means to teach their students all of the essential skills of journalism—interviewing, research with official documents, archives, letters, writing, audio and video news gathering and presentation. They could also use the program to connect students with their community and their history to pass along to other members of their own communities (Hochheimer 2001).
Globalized media allow us to experience different ways of seeing and expressing the universal struggles for freedom, dignity, and respect. One way to bring the theory of critical pedagogy to a more meaning-based practice is to build the practice of journalism through existing media that local peoples already know and trust. As the Brazilian director Augusto Boal (1979) suggests, a Theatre of the Oppressed can be a useful tool to spread information, build group awareness of problems, and provide a vehicle for information, and coordinate action to be shared within a community. In Southern Africa societies music and public performance have a long and rich integration into the fabric of rural life (D. James 1994). Women in the Crossroads community outside of Cape Town used the folk tradition of theater sketches to depict forced removals, separation from families, police brutality, and other issues in the 1970s (Mzamane 1991). In Zimbabwe, theater performed in rural guerrilla camps helped build solidarity to oppose the oppressive white regime. The Pungwe, an all-night political rally utilizing singing and dancing, became a medium to dramatize the people’s struggles (Chifunyise 1994). In Lesotho, the Marotholi Participatory Theatre helped members of local communities become performers in plays which raised community issues, involved community members in discussing the issues, and involved people in making decisions. In this, a key component was that some theater members needed to live and work with people in the villages for some time in order to learn and to understand the problems peculiar to any particular village. These plays were used, among other things, to initiate a community dialogue on racism in local mines, to disseminate information about rural sanitation, infant immunization and income-generating activities for local women, and to mobilize community opposition to the sale of rural agricultural land (Mda 1994).
“Education in the true sense,” wrote the Indian mystic Jiddu Krishnamurti (1953), “is helping the individual to be mature and free, to flower greatly in love and goodness. That is what we should be interested in, and not in shaping the child according to some idealistic pattern” (23). If we can tear ourselves away from the notion that the teacher is the source of all knowledge to recognize that each of us is, like each of our students, a pilgrim wandering in the world, trying to derive some kind of meaning and purpose as we go along, then we as teachers can come to recognize that we, and our students, are all partners in the common human enterprise of making meaning as we go through life.8
Love, writes Scott Peck, is “the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.” I would add that this sense of love implies that we must nurture this growth, wherever it may lead. This is truly the meaning of educating for freedom which, of course, is the sine qua non of democratic life and action. We are limited only by our fears of participating fully in the great conversation of life, in all its myriad ways; we can be ennobled by our connections to those who have come before each of us, as well as to those who follow.
I will close by relating a story about John Cleese. Many people know him as one of the great comedy troupe, Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Cleese has gone on to do many things since then, and he came a few years ago to speak at Cornell University to a packed house. John Cleese said something, after talking about the Pythons and all their zaniness, that struck me fully; I want to pass this along to you. He said, “When I was a young man, I thought the world was basically a SANE place, and that my job was to find and identify the few IN-SANE things about it so that people would then know about them and fix them to make them right. Now that I am close to 60, I have found that this is not true. I now believe that the world is an IN-SANE place, and that my job is to find the few oases of sanity, and to nurture them and feed them and keep them alive. These few places of sanity, and love, are all we will ever have.”
I urge you to consider John Cleese’s words carefully. By being in a world with others, by using the communication media we have to help one another derive greater meaning in our lives, to embrace the oases of sanity and love where and when we can find them are our only hopes of survival on this earth. The challenge for each of us, for all of us, as teachers and as students, is to find and to nurture our better natures, whatever our spiritual foundations and inclinations might be, listening closely to however our hearts’ voice might be speaking to each of us, and to derive meaning together and to work, with all of our hearts and all of our minds, in an atmosphere of tolerance, to create and nurture those oases of sanity. In doing this, actively, we honor both those whose struggle set the stage for our own, and those who will follow.
It is easy enough to find pain and anger in such insanity as the Holocaust, OR in the current escalation of tension, violence, pain and recrimination in the Middle East, OR the outrages of September 11, 2001, OR the intolerance for dissent and the fear of otherness that led to the tragic circumstances in whose memory this conference is dedicated, OR–well, you can add to this list seemingly forever. While the pain may be severe, while the rage can be all too palpable, while the desire to exact justice and retribution for past injustices can call us so strongly, we can also recognize that love and compassion and truth can emerge even amidst the rubble and the ashes and the death.
That is what the pedagogy of meaning is truly about. We can, we must work actively to imagine and to create educational structures and processes to promote democratic self-governance in an increasingly globalized world in which ALL peoples—individually and collectively—find meaning, find purpose, and find themselves heard, respected, and elevated. To paraphrase A. J. Muste, there is no way to realizing the Human Spirit. Rather, realizing the Human Spirit is the way.
The “pedagogy of meaning” builds on the traditions and processes of the past while helping people transform their world to embrace one another as equal partners in the struggle to create increasingly just and tolerant communities. To do so will require a dedication to the creation of learning spaces and opportunities in which the Human Spirit connecting all people is both honored and respected, in which different ways of knowing and being in the world provide us with both strength and flexibility, in which each of us discovers ever more deeply that humility, tolerance, love and joy are the foundations upon which all truly meaningful learning for a truly democratic life in a globalizing world must be built.
The united actions of February 15, 2003 have the potential to lead all of humankind to consider entirely new ways of conceptualizing both globalization and democracy, grounded in a more comprehensive embrace of the human spirit than had heretofore been thought possible. These actions also provide us with an opportunity to imagine what education in this new era may well be like.
By making this pedagogy of meaning both the process and the goal of mediated communication, we honor those who came before us by our faith in ourselves, in one another, and in the fundamental unity that connects us all: past-present-future. This faith can provide a nurturing framework for building truly democratic institutions in a globalizing world so that we flawed, myriad beings can work together to bring about a day when such things as fear, hatred, and intolerance will never again threaten or hurt any of us—not a Jew nor a Christian nor a Muslim nor a Hindu, not a woman nor a man nor a child, whether gay or straight, black, white, brown, yellow or red, north or south, rich or poor—not ever again.
1. Of which there are several. See Hochheimer (2000).
2. We are all children of some Universal Spirit (however that presence manifests itself) endowed by that Spirit with certain inalienable Desires. And, among these, in the words of the Sufi master Hazrat Inayit Khan (1973), are the Desire to Live, the Desire to Know, the Desire for Power, the Desire for Happiness and the Desire or Peace. These Desires are the bedrock of the Human Spirit. Different spiritual traditions express these in different ways, but they are omnipresent. See W. James, 1902; Smith, 1958.
3. Perhaps “dialogue” does not connote the realm of interaction necessary, since it still assumes the enforcement of a harmony of interests. Ellsworth (1992) argues it is wrong to assume such harmony is possible, because there is always a real imbalance of power between actors; she says we need to acknowledge and counteract this whenever and however possible. She suggests that the best we may be able to do is to acknowledge to each other, “If you can talk to me in ways that show you understand that your knowledge of me, the world, the ‘Right thing to do’ will always be partial, interested, and potentially oppressive to others, and if I can do the same, then we can work together on shaping and reshaping alliances for constructing circumstances in which students of difference can thrive” (115). Note, however, in this formulation, Ellsworth’s expectation is to make demands on the other side first, enhancing fear, difference and disconnection. While this may be the place from which we must begin our journey, it need not be the end.
4. Please excuse the sexism of the 1940s.
5. Frankl’s experiences and writings, the meanings with which he came to see his place in the world, have profoundly influenced my work. I was trained to be a social scientist, to look at the world dispassionately to discern how the communications media affect people’s behaviors, to look with my head, but to ignore my heart. Yet, in listening to the deeper callings of my heart, I have been searching for something more. My academic work has evolved to explore how the processes of participatory communication can best be brought together through community-based media. See, for example, Hochheimer (1999).
6. In this, I take the word “pedagogy” to mean the processes that deal with “the transformation of consciousness that takes place in the intersection of three agencies—the teacher, the learner and the knowledge they together produce” (Lusted, 1986, 3).
7. The distinguishing characteristic of the Black Consciousness movement in South Africa was its insistence in fostering self-respect, pride and tolerance, i.e., a sense of meaning and purpose for all black South Africans (Pityana, Ramphele, Mpumlwana, and Wilson, 1991).
This is not to deny that, in seeking to promote Black Consciousness, SASO leaders were somehow more able to transcend their perceived need for separateness than were whites. In a June 1970 editorial, the SASO Newsletter argued that the role of black students in opposing apartheid was different from those of their white sympathizers: “We’ll have, we believe, to close our ranks before entering the open society, not because we are racialists, as some will charge, but because our sympathetic White countrymen, sincere and well-meaning though they may be, have been rendered by circumstances unable to view the problem from the Black man’s viewpoint” (qtd. in Buthelezi, 1991, 119). The white journalists, sympathetic though they might have been, were not connected with the various experiences of members of the black communities. Their learned objectivity hindered their abilities to comprehend the legacy of struggle, pain, and transcendence that the opening of Black Consciousness promoted. No person or group, after all, has a corner on the righteousness market.
8. Some recent books to assist the student and teacher who want to begin exploring these issues and would like ideas about beginning on their own paths include: Dinan 2002; Horwitz 2002; Lerner 2000; Loeb 1999; and Wallis 2000.
AMARC. Kathmandu Declaration, 28 February. Montreal, Can.: World Association of Community-Oriented Radio Broadcasters, 2003.
Boal, Augusto. Theatre of the Oppressed. New York: Urizen, 1979.
Bronowski, J. The Ascent of Man. Boston, Mass.: Little, Brown, 1974.
Chifunyise, Stephen. “Trends in Zimbabwean Theatre since 1980.” In Politics and Performance: Theatre, Poetry and Song in Southern Africa, ed. Liz Gunner, 55–74. Johannesburg, South Africa: Witwatersrand Univ. Press, 1994.
Colle, Raymond. “A Radio for the Mapuches of Chile: From Popular Education to Political Awareness.” In Ethnic Minority Media: An International Perspective, ed. Stephen Harold Riggins, 127–48. Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage, 1992.
Dinan, Stephen. Radical Spirit: Spiritual Writings from the Voices of Tomorrow. Novato, Calif.: New World Library, 2002.
Ellsworth, Elizabeth. “Why Doesn’t This Feel Empowering? Working through the Repressive Myths of Critical Pedagogy.” In Feminisms and Critical Pedagogy, ed. Carmen Luke and Jennifer Gore. New York: Routledge, 1992.
FitzGerald, Frances. America Revised: History Schoolbooks in the Twentieth Century. Boston, Mass.: Little, Brown, 1979.
Frankl, Viktor. Man’s Search for Meaning. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1963.
Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Seabury, 1970.
The Freedom Writers, with Erin Gruwell. The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World around Them. New York: Main Street, 1999.
Havel, Václav. Living in Truth. Boston, Mass.: Faber and Faber, 1986.
Hochheimer, John L. “Journalism Education in Africa: From Critical Pedagogical Theory to Meaning-Based Practice.” Critical Arts (South Africa) 15 (2001): 97–116.
—. “Planning Community Radio as Participatory Development.” In The Art of Facilitating Participation: Releasing the Power of Grassroots Communication, ed. Shirley A. White, 245–58. New Delhi: Sage, 1999.
—. “The Revolutions May Not Be Televised: Considerations in Organizing Community Media.” In Community Media in the Information Age: Perspectives, Findings and Policy, ed. Nicholas Jankowski and Ole Prehn, 317–31. Creskill, N.J.: Hampton, 2002.
— and Joanne Dvorak-Hochheimer. “All the News That’s Fit: Introducing Journalism Education as if Students’ Lives Mattered.” Journal of Communication Inquiry 18 (1994): 118–129.
hooks, bell. “Embracing Freedom: Spirituality and Liberation.” In The Heart of Learning: Spirituality in Education, ed. Steven Glazer, 113–29. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1999.
Horwitz, Claudia. The Spiritual Activist: Practices to Transform Your Life, Your Work, and Your World. New York: Penguin Putnam, 2002.
Hope, Anne, and Sally Timmel. Training for Transformation: A Handbook for Community Workers. 3 vols. Gwero, Zimbabwe: Mambo, 1992.
Inyumba, Aloisea. “Restoring Human Dignity and Reconciling the People of Rwanda.” Paper presented at the Congress on Communication: From Confrontation to Reconciliation, World Association for Christian Communication, July, Nordwijkerhout, Netherlands, 2001.
James, Deborah. “Basadi ba baeng/visiting women: Female Migrant Performance from the Northern Transvaal.” In Politics and Performance: Theatre, Poetry and Song in Southern Africa, ed. Liz Gunner, 81–110. Johannesburg, South Africa: Witwatersrand Univ. Press, 1994.
James, William. The Varieties of Religious Experience. New York: Modern Library, 1902.
Khan, Hazrat Inayat. The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan.Vol. 1. London: Barrie and Jenkins, 1973.
Krishnamurti, J. Education and the Significance of Life. New York: Harper and Row, 1953.
Lerner, Michael. The Politics of Meaning: Restoring Hope and Possibility in an Age of Cynicism. Menlo Park, Calif.: Addison-Wesley, 1996.
Lerner, Michael. Spirit Matters. Charlottesville, Va.: Hampton Roads, 2000.
Loeb, Paul Rogat. The Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in a Cynical Time. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1999.
Lusted, David. “Why Pedagogy?” Screen 27, no. 5 (1986): 2–14.
Mda, Zakes. “Marotholi Traveling Theatre: Towards an Alternative Perspective to Development.” In Politics and Performance: Theatre, Poetry and Song in Southern Africa, ed. Liz Gunner, 203–10. Johannesburg, South Africa: Witwatersrand Univ. Press, 1994.
Mzamane, Mbulelo Vizikhungo. “The Impact of Black Consciousness on Culture.” In Bounds of Possibility: The Legacy of Steve Biko and Black Consciousness, ed. N. Barney Pityana, Mamphela Ramphele, Malusi Mpumlwana, and Lindy Wilson, 179–93. Cape Town, South Africa: David Philip, 1991.
Palmer, Parker. “The Nature and Nurture of Public Life.” In Higher Education and the Practice of Democratic Politics: A Political Education Reader, ed. Bernard Murchland, 38–47. Dayton, Ohio: Kettering Foundation, 1991.
Peck. M. Scott. The Road Less Traveled. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978.
Pityana, N. Barney, Mamphela Ramphele, Malusi Mpumlwana, and Lindy Wilson, eds. Bounds of Possibility: The Legacy of Steve Biko and Black Consciousness. Cape Town, South Africa: David Philip, 1991.
Rosario-Braid, Florangel. “Communication and the Community.” Solidarity, 123 (1989): 66–71.
Rothermond, Indira. “The Gandhian
Pattern of Communication.” In Perspectives on Development Communication,
ed. K. Sadanandan Nair and Shirley A. White, 81–88.
Smith, Huston. The Religions of
Undercurrents. Globalisation and
“Communicating Reconciliation—In Pursuit of Humanity.” Paper presented at the Congress
on Communication: From Confrontation to Reconciliation, World Association for
Wallis, Jim. Faith Works: Lessons
from the Life of an Activist Preacher.
Youth of the Rural Organizing and
Cultural Center. Minds Stayed on Freedom: The Civil Rights Struggle in the
Zinn, Howard. A People’s History