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The Art of Freedom: Teaching the Humanities to the Poor
by Earl Shorris
Seeking answers to the toughest questions about poverty in the United States, Earl Shorris had looked everywhere. At last, one resounding answer came from a conversation with a woman in a maximum-security prison: the difference between rich and poor is the humanities. Shorris took that idea and started a course at the Clemente Family Guidance Center in New York. With a fac ...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published February 18th 2013 by W. W. Norton & Company
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Shorris had a journalist's eye for the telling detail, the philosopher's patience and perseverance to cast aside initial impressions to discover truths, and a heart open to all. In Latinos and The Life and Times of Mexico, he uses these to portray great subjects. This book's chapters recount his experiences traveling the world setting up variants on the Clemente Courses, which use the "great books" (both western and local) to bring power, understanding, and self-respect to the poorest people. I ...more
Feb 25, 2014 Jason Krzysztofiak rated it liked it · review of another edition
Honestly, seeing other reviews has kind of biased my review in a way that is somewhat disappointing. After finishing 'The Art of Freedom', I enjoyed it. It promoted a positive and feel good environment to show that people have potential no matter their origins, including elements of story telling, biography and non fiction. But after reading other reviews to try and form a conclusion, I realized that the reason that the book was lower rated than others was the poor written form, it has a great i ...more
Mar 21, 2013 Sally rated it liked it · review of another edition
I was glad to read this anecdotal account by the founder of the Clemente program for teaching humanities to the adult poor. It tells about starting programs in the US in cities, rural areas, and among native peoples, as well as in many other countries including Mexico, Korea, Sudan, Argentina and Australia. The impact this program can have on people's lives, and through them on their families and communities, is impressive.
I did not finish reading this collection of reports from the author's experiences of teaching humanities to the poor. It was a moving story but not compelling enough for me to want to finish. His use of the phrase "Surround of Force" was new to me in describing the setting that keeps the poor in their place. The plain lesson is that a basic humanities education is can be used to overcome poverty. There are poor people that will educate themselves if the opportunity is provided.
I really enjoyed this collection of essays about Clemente Institutes all over the world. The author writes a bit like a rambling professor with time to kill and a resistance to editing, and I got tired of hearing every bit player described in three paragraphs, but I loved reading about how the humanities transformed people's lives. Very inspiring to me.
Mar 19, 2013 Elyssa rated it liked it · review of another edition
The idea of teaching humanities to low income individuals is a brilliant one and was successful as indicated in Earl Shorris' reminiscent dispatches. Unfortunately, the book is poorly written. The chapters seem thrown together haphazardly and within the chapters, the writing meanders all over the place. I was able to piece it together, but it seems like it should have been easier.
Anecdotal collection of stories about exposing groups of individuals to the humanities and the effects of such education on their lives. For nonfiction about a program, it would be a better read if it were condensed into a shorter Reader's Digest version.