From 1996 to 1997 the writer Earl Shorris embarked on an educational experiment called the Clemente Course in the Humanities. In the process of researching the lives of the American poor, Shorris was reminded of the importance of education to the eradication of poverty. As Viniece, an inmate at a women’s correctional facility outside of New York, had said to him, “You’ve got to teach the moral life of downtown to the children. And the way you do that, Earl, is by taking them downtown to plays, museums, concerts, lectures, where they can learn the moral life.” Shorris was at first flummoxed by so direct a connection between education and poverty. He had thought it was political action and participation that got people out of poverty. He then realized that being a political actor meant being educated, not in the sense of amassing information but in learning to think for oneself, in developing what Shorris called the capacity for “reflection.” Rather than teaching people to follow the lead of what they have been taught, people learn to think for themselves. They become wild cards of human intention and individuality, loose cannons in the most democratically heartening sense. – Amy Whittaker

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~ by crossmd on May 23, 2011.

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