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  • Where's John Dewey and Paulo Freire?Ideas on "Recovering" the "Lost C"
  • Steven Byrd and Samuel McReynolds

community-based pedagogy/pedagogía basada en la comunidad, education for citizenship/educación para ciudadanía, ethical learning/aprendizaje ético, global civic engagement/compromismo cívico global, John Dewey, Paulo Freire

"Where's the Community? Redux" raises some excellent points of discussion for the future of foreign language pedagogy and cultural instruction within ACFTL's "five C" guidelines. We especially commend the author for pointing out the "lost C" of "Community," aptly citing the pedagogical philosophies of John Dewey and Paulo Freire as worthy of revisitation. In this response, there are three points we will elaborate on in regard to the so-called lost C: 1) ethical learning; 2) engaging the local community; and3) engaging the global community. These three points, we contend, build one upon the other, and establish a pedagogical framework to "recover" this lost C, drawing from the thinking and practices of Dewey and Freire.

Beginning with ethical learning, revisitation of John Dewey's philosophy on experiential education and democracy, detailed in works like Democracy and Education (1916) and Experience and Education (originally published in 1938), is the first order. According to Dewey, an education should: 1) generate interest; 2) be intrinsically worthwhile; 3) present problems that awaken new curiosity and create a demand for information; and 4) cover a considerable time span and be capable of fostering future development for the individual and for the social. On the latter point, Dewey establishes an ethical foundation for education, one in which there is a dialectal relationship of social sharing and growth between individuals and community. As Dewey (1916) notes, "the measure of the worth of the administration, curriculum, and methods of instruction of the school is the extent to which they are animated by a social spirit" (415).

For our second point, engaging the local community, Brazilian pedagogue and social activist, Paulo Freire, is also worthy of revisitation. His books, Educação como prática da liberdade (originally published in 1967) and Pedagogia do oprimido (originally published in 1968), in particular, are essential reading for teaching and civic engagement. Freire (2009) synthesizes his pedagogy thusly: "É fundamental … partirmos de que o homem, ser de relações e não só de contatos, não apenas está no mundo, mas com o mundo" (47, emphasis his). That is, we are to teach with the world, not in it, which results in an authentic dialog with the community and leads to what he termed "conscientização" (Freire 2005: 180–81). Furthermore, inspired by the ideals of Che Guevara, Freire was a revolutionary teacher who engaged communities through literacy campaigns directed at poverty-stricken areas of Brazil, planting the seeds for a more just and ethical society through a marriage of education and civic engagement. [End Page 181]

The philosophies and practices of Dewey and Freire segue into our final point, engaging the global community. Our courses titled Senior Global Citizenship Seminars at the University of New England focus on issues such as civic engagement and democratic values, social responsibility, appreciation of diversity, sustainable development, and service learning. These seminars spend roughly two weeks in country, in locales such as Mexico, Peru, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Kenya, where students experience the interrelationship of the above dynamics. While in country, students partner with local citizens and organizations, communicating in the native language, and engage in a variety of civic activities in areas such as health care, housing, education, and the environment. In this context, students are able to speak with and volunteer for people of lesser socioeconomic advantages, and add an invaluable sociocultural context to their foreign language and cultural educations. As one student who recently returned from Nicaragua assessed: "I spoke more Spanish with 'locals' about local issues than I did in an entire semester of study abroad in Spain." And another student evaluated: "It is about being human and being humane. It is about realizing that I am not the only person in the world nor am I the most important person. It is about making a difference and an impact in someone's life."

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