"...if our option is for (wo)man, education is cultural action for freedom..." ---Paulo Freire Saturday, I began my first day on the job as a MAST writing tutor to high school students excited at the chance to be a resource and mentor to four brilliant, students of color. Not wanting to impose, as Ivan Illich would say, my views around education, teaching, and, of course, literacy, I gave my students the freedom to design the writing curriculum and classroom space.I was very pleased with the outcome! My students wanted to learn how to write resumes, research papers, SAT prompts, and to write poetry! I was extremely impressed, not because their answers were not expected, but because I definitely did not worry so much about these things my freshman year of high school. Before the start of class, I had been instructed by my superiors to collect writing samples from my students. And so, on a topic of their choice, they each wrote a one page argumentative paper. However, when reading their writing samples, I became incredibly sad and discouraged as a tutor. My kids, who knew what was expected of them academically and even professionally, did not know how to write "well." It was more than grammar and spelling (these areas could be worked on easily), it was the style, the flow, the tone, the words used in their writing that I knew would be looked down upon in higher education. They had not mastered what one of my students had labeled as, "white writing." So now, I am struggling with many conflicting thoughts. I believe Freire when he says education is cultural action for freedom. Yes, these students should be free to write how they please for it is a representation of their culture and upbringing. And if that is their culture, are they not free to act upon it and label it as their education? Although I don't want to admit it, I feel like the answer is no. In this country's education system, where it cannot be disputed that there is a definition of literacy that sets the standard for all, I would be at fault if I did not teach them how to "write white"---would I not be setting them up for failure in this country's dominating discourse? Although education should be a cultural action for freedom to some extent it is not. There is very little freedom in the classroom for these kids to write the way they do; therefore, there is very little room for their culture to be in the classroom as a way of learning. And so, I fear in learning a second language (I think academic writing/speaking a.k.a "writing white" is a second language for many students in America), my kids will grow up realizing that their original understanding and acting out of literacy is, in fact, second, perhaps non-existent, to what I feel pressured to teach them in the classroom.