A reaction to a reaction

Blanca Facundo

A reply to Robert Mackie's critique of "Freire-inspired programs in the United States and Puerto Rico: a critical evaluation"

Written 1988, published on the web 1997

Go to Robert Mackie's critique.

Go to contents page of Facundo's essay

Go to comments on Facundo's essay from Alternativas.

Return to "Facundo on Freire" entry page.

This document is located on the

Suppression of dissent website

in the section on Documents

in the subsection on Facundo on Freire

In February 1984 I completed the essay now published here. It had a dual purpose: (1) to fulfill a project requirement, in the style of "report" or "deliverable" owed to a U.S. federal education agency as part of a three-year grant, and (2) to fulfill a request from members of the IRCEL network, who had identified a need for a critical reflection about our shared struggle to use Freire's theory to devise non-oppressive educational practices for our people within the U.S. and Puerto Rico contexts. The second purpose was the only one deemed important because it had a real audience: 2,000 copies of the monograph would be printed and distributed free-of-cost to project in the network and, funds permitting, to our entire mailing list of "latinos".

The audience was integrated by compañeros and compañeras at the grassroots, and some university-based people who wanted to assist in community struggles from which universities are detached. For the most part, the intended audience had only read Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed and did not have the time or resources to pursue more recent information. There was also a great deal of distrust directed at "university-based people", for reasons I explain -- I hope -- in the essay. Mackie may find it hard to believe, but it is true that as of 1984 it was extremely difficult for network members to obtain materials about Freire.

The information and reflections I provided were, in this strict sense, not only new: they were useful. A "scholarly" document was not intended, nor was it needed. People at the grassroots, working against the system, have to learn while they function and survive: that does not make them more "functionalists" than any other who needs an income, including college and university professors.

When Brian Martin contacted me I opted not to revise the 1984 document. I believe the document should stay as it was originally written because it accurately reflects my perceptions about the ideas and processes described and analyzed. The feedback I received from members of my intended audience was sufficient evidence that the essay accomplished what I was requested from the network.

As I wrote to Mackie in a personal letter, we are all formed and deformed by our experiences, class background, education, etc. It is our task to determine how and to what extent our emotions interfere with our critical thought, and to try to overcome the limits of our self-understanding. It is certainly difficult, and perhaps even impossible, but I feel that one has to continue trying.

Mackie's reaction to my essay, it seems to me, is highly charged from an emotional perspective while pretending to be scholarly. Because of this reason, I have chosen not to prepare a detailed response. I can agree to disagree with Mackie's evaluation of my purported "confusion," "despair," "unthinkingness," "false" statements, "distortions," "failure to see," "personalism," "blind adoration," "disillusion," "poor argument," and "ineffective writing" (did I miss any?). Being a teacher at heart, I am persuaded that a strong negative reaction is much better than no reaction at all.

Mackie and I have "read" Freire and his work in a very different manner. The "truth?" I guess that is each reader's problem.