Essay 3: Argumentative Synthesis
(Freire, Pratt, and Rodriguez)
I can’t imagine a word without the literate arts, such as writing, reading, music, art, and suchlike. I know for a fact that even before human beings’ recorded history, people already express their minds and affections through their fellow human beings through their crude literate arts. They have the unwritten expressions to tell with their face and body language what should or should not be done. In caves, they have learned to write what they feel, see, hear, and so on. A world without the literate arts would simply not a world without human beings. Only individuals like us with innate ability to express ourselves and our deepest thoughts and emotions through writing, for instance, can truly muster whatever nature has endowed to us. How could we ever be wrong not to have the gift that only human beings have as compared to the rest of the creation if not for our abilities to literally, naïvely or sophisticatedly express our being in the way we want to as truly human beings with intellect and freedom to choose what is for our best interests?
Truly, I have never found anything in my life as powerful as the literate arts, especially, writing. I have experienced myself, from the time I learn to engage with the spoken and written words, that what is in my mind, heart and soul, I can simply express using my vocal mechanisms, as well as, pen and paper. Just like in this English class, I learned to appreciate even more the importance of writing and reading that it brings to my life. In a variety of ways, I have understood that without a class like this one, I may have taken for granted what is truly invaluable to someone like me who aspire each day. By reading and relating to the written words of Paulo Freire, May Louise Pratt, and Richard Rodriguez, not to mention similarities or contrasting views of my classmates, I became more enlightened with my own perspective about the world, in general, and education, in particular. Specifically, I learned to understand at a deeper level the answer to “What are the literate arts good for?” For me, the literate arts are the soul of individuals that compose a society. Out of the said arts come meaningful communication and living. What the generation of today knows, it is handed down to the next. Without the literate arts, I cannot think of any other where our individual and collective human expressions are crystallized and made valuable by the passage of time. With the literate arts, we learned to value what is truly of value to us and learn from our past mistakes and experiences so that we become even better as we attain to our goals in life.
With regards to Freire’s “The Banking Concept of Education,” he has shown the value of literary arts. For Freire, the two basic teaching styles have their own powers. First, the “banking concept” is nothing but a teaching style that keeps individuals to remain oppressed in the way they are educated. In its entirety, the banking concept is not a solution of, by, and/or for people, but serves only to make people memorize facts without being truly educated. In short, the banking concept is merely like filling students’ minds with the “[non-]transforming power” (Freire 257) of education. Simple memorization is what students master and not really the transformative role that the literate arts play in the lives of individuals. Hence, people become alienated with what their minds could truly offer them by liberating themselves from the bondage of a closely-knitted education that serves only the oppressors of society. Hence, Freire advises teachers to assist learners as they struggle to control their condition in life so that learners will learn “to know what they know” (Freire 256). This means that students should rather have to use their critical thinking abilities to known exactly what they should actually know or learn. Thus, comes Freire’s next teaching style, called problem posing. Here, learners acquire knowledge through the assistance of their teachers. The knowledge students acquired is offered back to their teachers. With problem posing teaching style, students learn to appreciate the liberating power of the literate arts, which, when properly used, can become very rewarding throughout a person’ life and those whom he or she influences.
As I read Pratt’s “Arts of the Contact Zone,” I realized how important her concepts of contact zones and communities in relation to the literate arts. We all have our contact zones where we find and express our individuality. On the other hand, we are motivated by a collective goal to pursue what is for our optimal interest in a community. The literate arts help us achieve both our individual and collective goals for ourselves and the communities where we belong and serve. Though we have our individual differences, people like us help one another learn even more ourselves and other people in various communities that could either have the same interests as ourselves or not. Consequently, we both derive benefits from these varieties of valuable contact zones and communities. Hence, despite our differences as individual entities, we endeavor to have a cohesive society that works together for the good of each of its members and even those outside of the proximities of those communities. Moreover, the literate arts provide us with the redemptive power to communicate “across lines of differences” and live with “mutual respect” under the “all-important concept of cultural mediation” (Pratt 6). Thus, despite our differences, we learn to go beyond our individuality so that we could relate more with others, such as through writing, reading, music, and so on. The literate arts do it for us such that recorded history is not simply a thing of the past, but the collective consciousness of our ancestors brought to life. Then, like them, we too express ourselves in our own collective ways so that we become more progressive and productive than previous generations.
In connection to Freire’s and Pratt’s views about education and literate arts, Rodriguez took it in a way that was aptly titled in his essay “The Achievement of Desire.” Primarily, Rodriguez became driven by education as his teachers took the place of his parents. He claimed that we can turn to education when we need advice, guidance, etc. to people who have custody over us. Specifically, it is the literate arts that would allow individuals to connect to their lives, just like what Rodriguez asserted. With education, a person can bridge the gap between himself and his surrounding (e.g., home life). For Rodriguez, we have to educate ourselves to the fullest extent possible so that “with an education, [we] can do anything” (Rodriquez 604). Even at an early age, Rodriguez has learned to value education, which made him become a better person. Nonetheless, to continue doing that, a person should sacrifice or give himself or herself to the life-changing power of the literate arts, in particular and education, in general. There seems to be no alternative to them as we learned to make good use of our experiences, intellect, and power.
I have found the articles of Freire, Pratt, and Rodriguez worth my time. I can summarize what I learned from all of them using Bartholomae and Petrosky’s work: I will “make [my] mark on a book and it [will make] its mark on [me]” (1). The literate arts of the authors have truly transformed me into a better person. I realized that what I am learning is what makes me. What I have desired to understand even more made me to think and reflect even better about myself and surrounding. I cannot but show gratitude to what they shared to the world. The authors’ ideas are invaluable in various aspects of my life. I know I will continue to cherish their contributions to the literate arts and education. Though they may have a few minor differences and more of resemblances in their views about the literate arts and education, they made their mark on the world and to me as an individual. Because of that, I learned to appreciate even more, not just the limits and potentials of education, but the actual transformative power of the literate art and education to me.
Just like Freire, Pratt, and Rodriguez, I will also learn to give importance to the literate arts every day of my life. As Freire has shown, he realized how the literate arts are important as a student learn to problem pose with the assistance of a capable individual (e.g., teacher). Because of Freire, I learn to appreciate more my teachers who facilitate our learning by heart so that we learn to know what we should know. On the part of Pratt, I have learned to value more, not just more about my individuality, but how I relate with other people so that I can have more value to society. Though individual differences are important, I realized that it finds more meaning via a productive community. Last but definitely not the least, Rodriguez’ love for the literate arts made me value even more my desire to have a better educational career in the future. I know I have to sacrifice something in order to aspire to something even better. For instance, I have to burn more the midnight oil so that I can inspire other students and future generations about my deeds. Thus far, I can sum up all that I said in but a few words: The literate arts will make me a better person, so I have to make good use of my potentials.
Bartholomae, D. & A. Petrosky. Ways of Reading: An Anthology for Writers (Seventh Edition). Massachusetts: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2005. Print.
Freire, P. “The ‘Banking’ Concept of Education.” Ways of Reading. Ed. D. Bartholomae & A. Petrosky. Massachusetts: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2005. Print.
Pratt, M. The Arts of the Contact Zone. New York: MLA, 1991. Print.
Rodriguez, R. The Achievement of Desire. The Education of Richard Rodriguez. Print.