The Newsletter 96 Autumn 2023

On Walking Libraries and Challenging Conventional Pedagogies

Kojo Opoku Aidoo

The Humanities Across Borders program represents an intellectually and methodologically disruptive and radical departure from the pedagogical practices that I am familiar with.

In the course of developing a humanistic pedagogy, I encountered griot-like figures (migrants in Ghana, Togo, and Benin) during field stints, who build their knowledge through their analyses of how the world is. They are regarded for their reflective philosophical knowledge, as ‘walking libraries’ with up-to-date knowledge and histories of their communities. With wide-ranging historical knowledge, they demonstrate unlimited possibilities for the formal educational establishment. They tell their stories from memory extemporaneously, elaborating on actions and events. These experiences challenge the conventional pedagogical paradigms and call for alternative frameworks. The formal classroom setting with its structural limitations and trappings of scripted literacy curriculum can benefit immeasurably from such wise, knowledgeable griot-like figures.


Kojo Opoku Aidoo, University of Ghana, Ghana