07 SES 05.5 PS, General Poster Session
General Poster Session
Reading with Art is an action–research project, which has adult literacy as its main purpose.The project holds into the concept of basic literacy (Barton, 2007). First of all, following Freire’s (1972, 1998) thought, ‘literacy’ is assumed as a broader concept that conveys the capacity of acting an understanding the social and cultural world, underlying the full exercise of citizenship. Secondly, according to Barton (2007), the notion of basic literacy refers to the initial learning of reading and writing of adults who have never been to school. This apprenticeship is fundamental for them to overcome the burden of being nonliterate in a literate world (Azevedo & Gonçalves, 2012).
Reading with Art Project has been going on for 3 years and it is developed within a community of African immigrants (mostly from Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau) living in a Lisbon (Portugal) suburb, facing problems of unemployment, poverty, and social segregation. Most of the group are women in their 40s or older, who are either unemployed or in precarious work. Those adults have low proficiency of Portuguese language, since crioulo is their mother tongue and communication language.
The action is developed in a non-formal educational context, has a volunteer nature, and it is grounded on a firm conviction that a transformative practice holds into an ethical commitment with justice and care (Noddings, 1984, 1992). As Noddings have argued, the ethical of justice and caring is about developing reciprocal relationships that can sustain a community, fostering its development and a dialogue about the community itself.
The pedagogy of the project is inspired by Freire (1979), and seeks to promote the construction of shared consciousness that enables external and internal realities. Consequently, learning to read and to write transcends the recognition of the alphabet or words, because the word is only an instrument for reading and representing the world (Freire & Macedo, 1987). Following Freire, the generative themes and words emerge from the group dialogue and reflect their historical, cultural, and social realities.
But how can we elicit conversation and dialogue, or an dialogic experience (Freire, 1975)? As Dewey (1934) suggests, only art enables the human experience because of the aesthetic stamp that it bears. Therefore, art calls for the aesthetic dimension of literacy, prompting the development of a symbolic framework that is important both for thought and language. While admiring art, adults share meanings and perspectives. And they engage themselves in creating text that provides the (con)text from where words can be spoken and learned. This experience, we argue, can be understood both as evidential (instrumental) and communicative (dialogical) experience (Azevedo & Gonçalves), echoing Eliot’s words: “We had the experience but missed the meaning / An approach to the meaning restores the experience in a different form” (Eliot, 1941).
With art and words, with talking and writing, with concrete and representational experience, acting and researching, that’s Reading with Art Project.
Azevedo, N. R. & Gonçalves, M. J. (2012). Writing and Reading With Art - Adult Literacy, Transformation, and Learning. Adult Learning, 23 (2), pp. 69-75. Barton, D. (2007). Literacy—An introduction to the ecology of written language. Oxford, UK: Blackwell. Dewey, J. (1934). Art as experience. New York, NY: Penguin. Eliot, T. S. (1941/1971). The complete poems and play: 1909-1950. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin. Freire, P., & Macedo, D. (1987). Literacy: Reading the word and the world. London, England: Routledge. Freire, P. (1972). Pedagogia do oprimido [Pedagogy of the oppressed]. Porto, Portugal: Afrontamento. Freire, P. (1975). Educação política e conscientização [Political education and conscientization]. Lisbon, Portugal: Livraria Sá da Costa Ed. Freire, P. (1979). Educação como prática da liberdade [Education as a practice of freedom]. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Paz e Terra. Freire, P. (1998). Pedagogy of freedom: Ethics, Democracy and civic courage. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. Noddings, N. (1984). Caring. Berkeley: University of California Press. Noddings, N. (1992). The challenge to care in schools. New York. Teachers College Press.
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