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THE MIDWIFERY OF LIBERATION IS FOREVER, NOT NINE MONTHS

Freire had written that “the midwifery of liberation is always painful” (Freire, 2000a). My classroom explosion made clear what those intriguing, albeit still- abstract words actually meant. The painful inquiry that I had to embark upon has turned out to be the most liberating process of my life—not just career. This discomforting process forced me to recognize that my commitment to “embodying change” had to be joined to an awareness that “change within others” relating to dynamics of power was a twofold process of mutual de- and co-construction between “teacher-student” and “organizer-organized” that would go on forever. I came to see that this dynamic and often paradoxical process had to be examined with respect in its original, socially limiting forms so that it could be challenged and co-created together for more liberating possibilities later on—in each and every classroom, year after year (Burghardt, 2013). There could be no predetermined approach to how these dynamics would unfold: one year, early in the term; another year, later on in the term. Some students would be excited by the potential for mutual discovery; others were turned off, sometimes permanently. I had to approach each classroom with the “beginner's mind” of complete openness to what might happen, even while aware, paradoxically, that I was using a purposeful pedagogical methodology directed towards co-creation (Epstein, 1999).

 
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