we make the road by walking

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This is the title of a book pdf published in 1990, transcribing a series of conversations between radical educators Myles Horton and Paolo Friere in 1987. It comes from a Spanish poem written by Antonio Machado in 1912.

Horton and Friere are trying to figure out why they are trying to work together, to bring their ideas and histories together. At least one reason is that they are aware that future educators who come across some part of their work may also find it helpful to know about how they each worked things out for themselves, and that one way they can do this is by interviewing each other.

from the book

MYLES: Well now, when we talk about this kind of background, it's mainly the things that would help people understand where I come from in terms of my ideas and my thinking, what they are rooted in. Is that the idea? PAOLO: Yes. Everything you recognise as something important. I think even though we need to have some outline I am sure that we make the road by walking. It has to do with this house, with this experience here. You're saying that in order to start, it should be necessary to start. MYLES: I've never figured out any other way to start. PAOLO: The question for me is now is it possible for us, in the process of making the road, to be clear and to clarify our own making of the road. That is, then to clarify some theoretical issues about education in the big vision of education. It's necessary. But I am not worried not to have now the list of these issues because I think that they will come out of the conversations.

end quote

The transcribers of this section of the conversation explain in a footnote that the phrase Friere is quoting is from a poem about pilgrimage by the Spanish poet Antonio Machado.

English translations vary on the best way to translate "caminante", to mean "walker", "wanderer", "wayfarer" and sometimes (in specific relation to the famous Camino de Santiago), "pilgrim".