SXSW 2011 Panel Proposal

Here’s my panel proposal for SXSW.

When education serves the state’s desire for obedience and capitalist consumption, individual freedoms and democratic participation are in danger. This is most evident in the failure of schools to promote the creative and critical literacies students should practice when choosing what and how to read. Democratic values are at risk when many students exit the public education system hating reading and unaware of the aesthetic pleasures in literature. My research indicates that reading, at its best, is the cognitive embodiment of individual liberty. I ask students to draw a picture of what happens when they read, and these drawings indicate a taxonomy of five metaphors we use when we think and talk about reading, such as “consumption” and “transportation.” At the core of these metaphors is the central metaphor of all reading, “movement.” Thus, if all reading is ultimately about movement, it is also about the freedom to move–that is, the freedom to choose what and how to read. However, reading in school is rarely about choice, and with the advent of state-mandated testing, reading is now converted into a chop-shop of isolated bits of knowledge to be consumed and regurgitated on demand. My presentation is to be heard as a rallying call to action, a call to take back schools from the testing bureaucrats and return it to teachers who know that reading is the life-blood of democratic life.