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Freire became familiar with poverty and hunger during the 1929 Great Depression.
Freire enrolled in the Faculty of Law at the University of Recife in 1943. Although admitted to the legal bar, he never actually practiced law but instead worked as a teacher in secondary schools teaching Portuguese.
In 1946, Freire was appointed Director of the Department of Education and Culture of the Social Service in the State of Pernambuco, the Brazilian state of which Recife is the capital. Working primarily among the illiterate poor, Freire began to embrace a non-orthodox form of what could be considered liberation theology.
In 1961, he was appointed director of the Department of Cultural Extension of Recife University, and in 1962 he had the first opportunity for significant application of his theories, when 300 sugarcane workers were taught to read and write in just 45 days. In response to this experiment, the Brazilian government approved the creation of thousands of cultural circles across the country.
In 1964, a military coup put an end to that effort, Freire was imprisoned as a traitor for 70 days. After a brief exile in Bolivia.
In 1967, Freire published his first book, Education as the Practice of Freedom. He followed this with his most famous book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed.
On the strength of reception of his work, Freire was offered a visiting professorship at Harvard University in 1969. Vastly expanding its reach. Because of the political feud between Freire, a Christian socialist and the successive authoritarian military dictatorships it wasn't published in his own country of Brazil until 1974.
After a year in Cambridge , USA, Freire moved to Geneva, Switzerland to work as a special education adviser to the World Council of Churches. During this time Freire acted as an advisor on education reform in former Portuguese colonies in Africa, particularly Guinea Bissau and Mozambique.
In 1979, he was able to return to Brazil, and moved back in 1980. Freire joined the Workers' Party (PT) in the city of São Paulo, and acted as a supervisor for its adult literacy project from 1980 to 1986. When the PT prevailed in the municipal elections in 1988, Freire was appointed Secretary of Education for São Paulo.
Freire died of heart failure on May 2, 1997.
Bibliography of Paulo Freires works .... ( Date of publication)
Education as a Practice of Freedom (1967, 1974)
Cultural action for freedom (1968, 1970)
Pedagogy of the oppressed (1968, 1970)
Extension or communication? (1969, 1973)
The political literacy process (1970)
Witness to liberation, in Seeing education whole (1970)
Education for Critical Consciousness (1973)
Pedagogy in Process: The Letters to Guinea Bissau (1977, 1978)
The importance of the act of reading (1982, 1983)
The politics of education: culture, power and liberation (1985)
Pedagogy of the City (1991, 1993)
Pedagogy of Hope (1992, 1994)
Teachers as Cultural Workers: Letters to those who dare teach (1993, 1998)
Letters to Cristina: reflections on my life and work (1994, 1995)
Paulo Freire on Higher education. A Dialogue at the national university of Mexico. Miguel Escobar, Alfredo L.Fernandez, and Gilberto Guevara-Niebla with Paulo Freire. Published 1994 State University of New York.
A Composition of Consciousness. Roads of Reflection from Freire to Elbow. Patricia H. Perry. Published 2000, Peter Lang Publishing.
Education, Literacy, and Humanisation. Exploring the Work of Paulo Freire . Peter Roberts. Published 2000.
Reinventing Paulo Freire. A pedagogy of Love. Antonia Darder. Published 2000 Westview Press.
Che Guevara, Paulo Freire, And the Pedagogy of Revolution. Peter McClaren. Published 1948 United States of America.
Paulo Freire : a critical encounter. Edited by Peter McLaren and Peter Leonard. 1993 London : Routledge.
Pedagogy of the Oppressed . (Person who teaches to the persecuted)
This is his most famous piece.
The book is separated into four chapters, the first speaks of the justification for a pedagogy of the oppressed and the contradictions between the opressors and the oppressed and how the liberation can only be achieved by a mutual process.
The second chapter discusses the problem-posing ‘banking’ concept of education being an intrument for liberation, and how ‘banking’ allows students to learn only as far as recieving, filing, and storing deposits of information
The third chapter explores dialogics which uses education as the practice of freedom,the awakening of critical consciousness and the investigation of generative themes.
And the final chapter continues to think about dialogics, and also speaks about antidialogics (an instrument of oppression) and the theory of antidialogical actions and its characteristics – which include conquest, divide and rule, manipulation and cultural invasion, which contradicts the theory of dialogical actions: cooperation, unity, organisation, and culteral synthesis.
Friere believed there where two stages of the pedagory of the oppressed.
Stage one – the oppressed realise the extent of thier oppression and and attempt to transform the actions of the world.
Stage two – those who were opressed are no longer, and those who were the oppressors no longer do so.
Friere’s argument is that those who opress others are blinded from seeing how thier dominating ways are self-destructive and de-humanizing.
“ It is only the oppressed who, by freeing
themselves can free thier oppressors” p.56
Pedagogy of Freedom Ethics, Democracy, and Civic Courage
Described by Stanley Aronowitz as Freire’s last will and testament.
It is a culmination of Freire’s life work.
A text that urges its readers to become, to reach toward still-untapped possibility .
The major Themes in Freire's Pedagogy of Freedom:
The exercise of teaching ends up teaching the teacher. The teacher is always a learner and vice-versa.
History should be lived as possibility, not with any sense of fatalistic inevitability. We must act in history. Teaching requires an interventionist activism which can never be neutral. The present system of economic inequities came to us through the historical process. We must wake up to the fact that we can therefore change it through the possibilities offered to us in same historical process.
Mankind will always be unfinished, in the process of becoming. This is related to Freire's self-conception as a progressive (as opposed to "neoliberal") educator, open to change, and having "epistemological curiosity."
The philosophy of neoliberals is wrong because it accepts the ideas that large-scale unemployment is inevitable, that economic globalization is inevitable (113) and that there is nothing we can do to change the economic inequities in our world. Freire calls this thinking "the death of history."
Teaching is not mere transferring of content, the "banking system," as he calls it. It includes instead developing the students' sense of curiosity, and awakening in them the possibilities of their own ability to construct knowledge and affect history.
Desirable teacher traits include curiosity, self-confidence, generosity, humility, and the ability to listen well (which he calls the "discipline of silence" on page 105.)
A proper balance of freedom and authority.
Freire addresses himself explicitly and directly to teachers. He asks what is involved in education and in becoming a teacher who educates, and reflects on educational practice from a 'progressive' perspective. The book both states a utopian vision and advances a thoroughgoing critique of the ongoing debasement of education, embracing technology as the basis for future progress. With respect to his vision, Freire insists on the importance of maintaining hopefulness and holding on to possible dreams for what education can be. It is considered by many that ‘Pedagogy of Freedom’ is Freire's most important book since ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed.’
"To learn … precedes to teach … To teach is part of the very fabric of learning … There is no valid teaching from which there does not emerge something learned and through which the learner does not become capable of recreating and remaking what has been thought … Teaching that does not emerge from the experience of learning cannot be leaned by anyone." (p. 31)
The concept of critical consciousness means the ability to perceive social, political and economic oppression.
The book includes two essays by Freire
Education as the practice of freedom – which talks about his work with ‘illiterates’ in brazil, which explains his process of using ‘culture circles’ and ‘generative words’ rather than the traditional teacher led learning processes to teach adult literacy.
Extension or communication - This essay captures the idea that while ‘all development is modernisation, not all modernisation is development’.
It concludes that the practice of extension as a tool for education is inconsistent and doesn’t allow space to engage in conscientization. As the role of the extension worker is reduced to the act of extending his/her knowledge, this results in a static relationship between the extension worker and peasants, perpetuating further that the learner is an object opposed to an engaged subject capable of critically viewing the world and making decisions.
Letters to Christina Reflections on My Life and Work. >A book written in the form of letters to his niece Christina. >Through his letters Freire revisits his childhood providing an intimate account of his life and how he grew to become an educator with such commitment in his life and work as a teacher working to liberate the oppressed. He spoke very truly of his experiences growing up there was no efforts to idealize or romanticize his memories-he described them because those were the years that fed his critical thought in adulthood.(p192) He also described his open reminiscing by saying “For me to return to my distant childhood is a necessary act of curiosity ”(p13) >Throughout these letters we are reminded of the importance memory plays and how they enable us to generate change for the future. >The close relationship of the letters to Paulo's life make the points he is arguing more intense. They translate real moments of the objectivity of Brazilian history, a history that he participated in as a subject.(p192) >His letters invite fellow teachers to deepen their convictions for a pedagogy for liberation and to broaden our conceptions of how we address ourselves and those with whom we struggle. His words strengthen and work towards a critical action.
Teachers as cultural workers: Letters to those who dare teach Freire's last book. Teachers as Cultural Workers. Letters to Those Who Dare Teach, focuses on Paulo Freire's ideas about culture, education and social change. He also explores the possibilities of interpretation in language, and hidden explicit intentions. Freire claims that the job of a teacher is a joyful and rigorous career, and that they themselves are also learners. Freire proclaimed that he would never feel ashamed of being a teacher. Freire states that teachers must not act as parents to their students. This book is written in the context of the infant democracy in Brazil. However the ideas that Freire presents should be influential on teacher education in other social contexts. Freire's inspirational vision of a democratic teaching force provides teachers with practical strategies and philosophical foundations for pursuing their careers in education. These are points that are still used to inspire in teacher training courses today.
Freire believed that education was founded on reproducing existing political and economical order as ‘education for domestication’ where the learner is conditioned into a structure based on oppressive relations of domination/ subordination.
Freire saw that the rural poor in Brazil were oppressed by what he called “a culture of silence”. This culture of silence was created by the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil. He divided all education into two camps: education that accepted the status quo and the position of the poor in it, and education that liberated people and facilitated freedom . Education could not be neutral.
According to Freire, the role of the teacher or educator is to:
~break down the barrier between teacher and taught.
~speak the ‘same language’ as the learner.
~be aware of how they construct their world of learning.
~be aware of learning needs
~start from where the learners are
~encourage them to learn and explore their own experiences.
Paulo Freire’s ideas led to the foundation of a popular education movement in Brazil and in Latin America. Community educators and religious groups working with the poor use his techniques and methods and they can also be found today in union courses and training courses.
Perhaps the most influential thinker about education in the late twentieth century, Paulo Freire has been particularly popular with informal educators with his emphasis on dialogue and his concern for the oppressed.
Paulo Freire (1921 - 1997), has left a significant mark on thinking about progressive practice. His Pedagogy of the Oppressed is currently one of the most quoted educational texts.
His emphasis on dialogue has struck a very strong chord with those concerned with popular and informal education. Freire was able to take the discussion on several steps with his insistence that dialogue involves respect.
This concept has been seen to enhance the community leading us to act in ways that make for justice and human flourishing.
Paulo Freire's insistence on situating educational activity in the lived experience of participants has opened up a series of possibilities for the way informal educators can approach practice.
A number of informal educators have connected with Paulo Freire's use of metaphors drawn from Christian sources. An example of this is the way in which the divide between teachers and learners can be transcended.
Freire's attention to naming the world has been of great significance to those educators who have traditionally worked with those who do not have a voice, and who are oppressed. The idea of building a 'pedagogy of the oppressed' or a 'pedagogy of hope' and how this may be carried forward has formed a significant impetus to work.
Freire has made it possible for people of lower social positions to get educated, where they would of in the past been shunned allowing them the chance to be able to better themselves and have a voice. The chance for them to be heard is strengthened by the fact that he fought for the chance for such classes to vote which is a practise still continued today.
In 1991 the Paulo Freire Institute was created, congregating scholars and critics of his pedagogy interventions in reality. This institute is still running in fact is now available in 18 countries continuing Freire’s legacy.