My initial (emotional) response to the editor’s assignment responding to Pratt’s essay was grouchy and heated.
Upon a reread, I appreciate the emphasis the assignment places on developing a close relationship with primary sources and the potential for latent political activism to develop within students as they direct their own projects. This project pretty explicitly references Freire, especially with the call for engaging with relevant community documents, centering the “problem-posing” approach to education.
How, though, to make this assignment more accessible with digital records? Perhaps student-scholars could survey digital records in their communities from on-campus computer labs? I hesitate to ask adult students to commit to these sorts of long-term, longitudinal projects without an ample in-class support network: scaffolding, consistent critical feedback, and open access to relevant databases or text compendiums. This assignment seems to me to require a couple of months of development. (I have the struggle of getting too into most of my research, though, so I may be projecting some of that anxiety.)
That said, the agency that assignments like this keep open to students is admirable. Freire centralizes dialogic education, with student and teacher in horizontal and reciprocal learning roles, and work that articulates student-as-scholar is central to contemporary iterations of Freirean pedagogy. All-in-all, this assignment explicates some strategies for a 21st-century critical consciousness.