Literacy, Imaginary Politics, and Children

By Matthew Stadler

“Only power that springs from the weakness of the oppressed will be sufficiently strong to free both [oppresser and oppressed].”

— Paolo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

The Polity of Literature (PoL) is one-year old. As we turn the corner toward completion at the end of 2021, this insight from educator Paolo Freire haunts the project. Freire warned against the “false generosity” of those with power—many of us, people of good will—and said that the only way forward, for everyone, is through the knowledge and expressions of the oppressed. In their weakness, the oppressed discover the future. It is theirs to tell, or not.

Reports from the future are confusing, and often refused. They collide with past conceptions, falling into silence or awaiting broader collapse to open space in which what-is-coming-to-be can be seen. The PoL inquiry has employed rigid notions of literacy, politics, and imagination. Hewing to historical meanings of all three, we’ve met the variegated, slippery experiences of our writers by aligning their reports, as best we can, with what we assume is true about literacy, politics, and imagination. This week, the series editor reconsiders our key concepts in light of Freire’s insight.

Literacy, Imaginary Politics, and Children

1 March, 2022