The souls of good folk: prophetic pragmatism as a pedagogy of humanity in the composition classroom

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Temeka L. Carter (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Hephzibah Roskelly

Abstract: This dissertation pinpoints empathy deficit as a major social issue in the United States and it argues that schools could help address this root problem by offering humanity training. As an example of how humanity training could be implemented in higher education, “The Souls of Good Folk” is offered as a pedagogy of humanity for the composition classroom. This pedagogy uses Cornel West’s derivative philosophy of prophetic pragmatism as a lens of cultural criticism and community action. Furthermore, the pedagogy employs W.E.B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk as an example of prophetic pragmatism enacted in the real world. It expands Du Bois’s trajectory from a focus on Blacks to a generalized “good folk.” Du Bois’s book is not used as a blueprint for social transformation, but analyzing it could inform ways of addressing social problems. “The Souls of Good Folk” critical pedagogy uses the word souls to represent people’s actions and the phrase “good folk” to represent anyone who shows society what needs improving and possibly offer ways of doing it. Good folk include marginalized people, cultural workers, grassroots activists, teachers, artists, musicians, and others that help America see itself in efforts to make appropriate changes. The work of good folk is reviewed in this classroom as literature and tangible examples of how to enhance society. The composition classroom is the site for this pedagogy due to its focus on critical literacy – actively and questioningly engaging with the text to read underlying messages – which is needed to help solve social problems. Teaching through a prophetic pragmatist framework is critical academic work, for it helps produce responsible democratic citizens and it sustains local communities. The prophetic pragmatist classroom is an experiential learning laboratory that combines traditional teaching methods with progressive, hands-on approaches to make experience paramount to the learning process. The main objectives of this pedagogy are for students to understand social issues comprehensively and to find creative, empathetic ways of addressing these problems.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2010
Composition Studies, Cornel West, Pedagogy of Humanity, Prophetic Pragmatism, The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. Du Bois
Critical pedagogy.
Literature $x Study and teaching.
Education $x Social aspects $z United States.
Educational sociology $z United States.
Du Bois, W. E. B. $q (William Edward Burghardt), $d 1868-1963. $t Souls of Black folk.
West, Cornel $x Philosophy.

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