Freire: Art Through Revolutionary Leadership


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Freire: Art Through Revolutionary Leadership

  1. 1. Art Through Revolutionary Leadership: Paulo Freire and The Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Instructional Resource for the Art Classroom for grade levels 6-12 By Marie Max 1
  2. 2. Table of Contents Page I. Abstract ..................................................................................... 3 II. Literature Review ..................................................................... 4 The outline of Freires methodology and terms for action, such as generative themes, decoding, cultural synthesis, and critical consciousness. III. Methodology ............................................................................. 8 Action research including, observations, data, and results. IV. Conclusion .............................................................................. 13 V. Instructional Resource ............................................................ 15 Classroom application of dialogic action in a liberally structured art class. VI. References ............................................................................... 18Marie L. MaxAEDU*690*03 (3278) Graduate Ind StudySpring 2010Cognitive and Creative Development 2
  3. 3. Art Through Revolutionary Leadership: Paulo Freire and The Pedagogy of the Oppressed By Marie MaxI. Abstract: Revolutionary leadership is a term used to describe an action for educating theunderprivileged, the objects of oppression. This revolutionary action of overcoming oppressionthrough education was a life-long commitment by the internationally renowned educationaltheorist, Paulo Freire. This action was introduced in the book, The Pedagogy of the Oppressed byFreire (1970). The revolutionary goal is for the oppressed to lead their lives liberally and inharmony with the oppressor, without either side sacrificing human rights. The pedagogyaddresses the educational issues of the underprivileged, or de-humanized students, who are livingin what Freire described as a dual reality. The duality is, on one side, the recognized reality of theoppressor, and on the other, the unrecognized reality of the oppressed. The oppressed, with aconsciously work to transform from being preserved as an object of the dehumanizing oppressiveleaders, to be the subject of humanization and live in a reality that is liberated and functionalbetween both worlds. Two main points Freire makes are the actions of dialogics and anti-dialogics. Unlike practicing anti-dialogic action or historically fundamental practices, dialogue inthe classroom, or dialogic action, can help the oppressed recognize their role in society, andovercome manipulation, make cultural adaptations, and have a critical and creative consciousawareness of their human existence (humanized liberation). 3
  4. 4. II. Literature Review: Paulo Freire, having suffered from severe poverty during the Depression Era of the early1900s, committed his life to working to prevent children from experiencing the pains of hunger.He was inspired to focus on theories in education due to his realization that there was anoverwhelming lack of social justice in oppressed regions, which greatly contributed to thisproblem of hunger. The lethargy from hunger in school prevented children from being educatedproperly and, as a result, they remained within the confines of living an underprivileged life andoppression from dominant forces. The educational system did not address their realities of hungerand poverty nor did it prepare the children for their realities for the future. Freires originalmethodology was widely accepted by Catholics and supporters of literacy campaigns in thenorthern regions of Brazil. However, in the 1960s, there was a military coup and Freire wasarrested because he appeared to be a threat that represented the old government. The scenario isthe oppressed violently overthrew the oppressors and, in turn, became the oppressors themselves.After his release, he fled Brazil in political exile and began his research for the Pedagogy of theOppressed. This pedagogy has been adopted in 16 countries, including the United States, and isnamed throughout, The Paulo Freire Institute. Feires research for this pedagogy revolves around the idea of Conscientização. TheConscientização is learning to recognize and identify social, political, and economic dualities, thecontradictions, and procedure to take action to overcome the forces of oppression. This is arevolution, not through a rebellion, but through a transformation. His theory was that students canbe productive for themselves and their futures if poverty stricken educational environmentsconvert the anti-dialogic historical curriculum into the reality focused dialogical method. Freirerefers to The Pedagogy of the Oppressed as the pedagogy of man (p.39). He stresses the need forall people to recognize humanization as well as humanity. The pedagogy is intense in its depth ofunderstanding and methods of application. To understand Freires philosophy better, it isimportant, as the educator, to understand four factor of what oppression is, who the oppressed andwho the oppressors are, and how it is overcome. Oppression is the result of incomprehensible human domination of over other humans,either by physical force or psychological manipulation, which instates poverty and ignorance.The oppressed are people who have severe hardships resulting from violence, economics, socialrestraints, or cultural barriers, due to induced poverty and ignorance. The oppressed are peoplewho become trapped in a self-deprecating way of life, separated from humanization and exist inan assumed or supposed reality: a false reality that dissuades freedom, therefore inducing the fear 4
  5. 5. of freedom. The oppressors are people who are dominant in society who enforce the economic orsocial restraints, cultural barriers, and at times, the violence that the oppressed experience. Theoppressors, also, do not have humanistic empathy for the underprivileged and manipulate theprovisions for the oppressed, therefore inducing false realities that nurture oppression. Oppressionis overcome, in summary, by co-intentional education between teacher and student to help theoppressed become aware of the reality of oppression, their own identity, and practice of acommitment to self-liberation from being oppressed without having a fear of freedom, while bothgroups live symbiotically. The oppressed cannot live without the oppressor, or the oppressor without the oppressed.The result is a manipulated and veiled version of the reality of culture and human rights. Theybecome afraid of freedom and acquire, or are ingrained with, fatalistic and self-deprecatingattitudes, thus becoming emotionally dependent. The oppressed are unaware of the extent ofoppression and do not argue to gain more access to freedom from the oppressors, where as,oppressors, if threatened, argue to keep their human rights. Freire repeatedly emphasizes theseissues in his book; the humanization and dehumanization are contradictions of contradictions andtheir order is created out of their disorder. The solution is to simultaneously work with theoppressor in an ongoing process. To do this means to transform oneself from being an oppressedobject in preserved reality for the non-oppressed and becoming the subject of a non-oppressedrole in a humanistic reality. Freire proposes a pedagogy that enables these students to learn,through educational methods, how to overcome oppression. This is a gradual, step-by-stepprocess in an educational environment and needs time to develop in a classroom. It has severalstages within the initial actions: to first, recognize the reality of oppression and make a deliberateintention of transformation, and second, the commit to the phases of the liberation itself. This isrevolutionary learning. Freire describes this deliberate intention as Intersubjectivity (p. 131). This is incontradiction to historic ideas that: the teacher, only, is knowledgeable and the students areunknowledgeable, the teacher is the narrator and the students are the audience, the teacher is thedepositor and the students are the bank, etc. This is a challenge the anti-dialogic stances by thehistorically fundamental educator in a culturally invasive and manipulated thought process. Inorder to understand revolutionary learning, the actions need to be defined as follows:Generative ThemesThe methodology is based on generative themes (pp. 75-118). That is, create a curriculum that isgenerated by a students production capability. Students and teachers commitment to dialogic 5
  6. 6. action, cooperation, and cultural synthesis is essential for generative learning. In an anti-dialogicaction, the fundamental classroom is a setting where the students are the objects of cognitivedeposits by the teacher or banking (p. 57). This induces manipulation of information, an invasionof culture, and a lack of unity within the generative themes. Generative learning is to allow theseoppressed students to integrate his or her independent thoughts on culture, social experience, andidentity into the class curriculum by means of mutual dialogue and interaction with the teacher.Through mutual dialogue, they begin to recognize their reality.DecodingDecoding is the action of engaging in dialogism in the classroom. Consistent dialogue with theteacher about perceived thoughts is the first step to the recognition of the underprivileged personsplace in reality. Cooperating needs to be a characteristic of dialogical action not the action itself.In maintaining dialogue that does not manipulate or impose and is non-directional but it isexpressive and can lead to the challenges that the opposed face. The decoding process is atransformation process. The first step is to recognize issues of false realities and confront them bycommitting to the change of one-self. The oppressed need to recognize their viewpoints of theworld, ethics, and behaviors that keep them oppressed. By decoding these thoughts, cooperatingin the engagement of dialogue, the oppressed students can begin to liberate themselves, not to bein an existing liberated society, but to become existent in liberation, in society.ActionThe students and the teachers are, simultaneously or co-operatively, the subjects and objects(actors) in the dialogical learning process. The action is to transform the oppressed from being theobjects but rather the subjects by learning through intersubjectivity, reality transformation, andhumanization. In an oppressive environment the teacher is the first the actor and then the subject,while the student remains the object of the communicated information. The intersubjectivity isthe changing of the object, subject, and acting roles in the classroom. It transforms the action ofthe student being the object to the student being, first, the actor and then subject. Reversely, theteacher becomes the subject first and then the actor. They share a mutual goal to transform frombeing dehumanized in oppression to becoming humanized in liberation.Cultural RevolutionCulture is a population with shared beliefs or values. Revolution is a complete change ortransformation. Cultural revolution is the transformation of the beliefs or values within a cultural 6
  7. 7. invasion, which is a form of cultural superiority and anti-dialogic. For the oppressed, the goal isfor the student to decide what to be creative about and what to search for. Not just in a concreteway, but also abstractly in time and space.Unity of liberationIn an anti-dialogic action, the dominant create an environment where the oppressed becomedivided amongst each other. In the dialogical action, all oppressed need to unite together insolidarity to create organization in the actions towards gaining liberation.OrganizationOrganization is between different oppressed groups and involves factors such as consistency,risk, love, and faith.CooperationCooperation can only be achieved through dialogical action. In an anti-dialogical action,cooperation is accomplished because of one person obeying the rules of anothers decision-making. In a dialogical action, there is mutual decision-making and mutual action between boththe teacher and the student.Cultural synthesis:Synthesis is the act of combining various components into a whole. Cultural Synthesis is theresult of the phases of educational process of dialogical action. Cultural Synthesis is one ofseveral combined processes such as decoding, actions, and cultural revolution; in conjunctionwith cooperation, unity, and organization. This can be applied at a point where the oppressedstudents have begun to transition into being free from the self-deprecating thinking, instilledviolence, and lack of hope as a liberated human being. This stage allows the student to becomemore familiar with his or her identity, emotions, thought process, application of skills, and ability.Critical Consciousness:Critical consciousness is liberation from the fatalistic, or dehumanized, outlook that is ingrainedin the oppressed resulting from social injustices. It is the goal: to freely exist in reality with a)emotions, b) ethics, and c) view points of the world, d) without violence e) in unity with theoppressors. This goal is a result of giving the student the opportunity to experience a role inrevolutionary leadership. 7
  8. 8. III. Methodology: Revolutionary leadership is best understood through hands-on experience. Art classesincorporating Decoding to Cultural Synthesis were field tested in a boarding school forgovernment warded and socially restricted, adjudicated teens. They were both male and femaleand between the ages 13 to 18 years old. The setting was volatile and the facility was devoid ofinstructional or production devices and materials. Many students suffered from an absence ofself-discipline or emotional stability, due to their environmental circumstances. All were abusedand neglected prior to forced enrollment. Modifications and adaptations to the needs of thestudents had already been set in place by the facilitators and faculty of the institution. Safetyconcerns were of importance. Classes began with no visual or written references. They weregradually introduced as dialogue increased. The students were given the opportunity to havesome freedom with their own decision-making and transition from one topic or idea to another.Week one: The lessons began slightly structured with allowance for individual modification. Thefirst projects goal was to create wearable art headpieces. The theme was to express themselves asindividuals. The process was to decorate the piece, be authentic, and ensure it could be worn onones head. No visual references were provided in order to not culturally influence or invade thestudents imagination. The materials provided were large strips of pre-cut colored paper, assortedsequins, and glue. Fashion and Friends. Paper, applique, and magic marker. Student, 2010 8
  9. 9. Most of the students, at first, expressed disinterest in this project. However, they didparticipate after we engaged in dialogism (dialogue); we discussed personalities and the freedomof artistic expression. All who participated changed the criteria in some manner, to suit their ownabilities of understanding how it should be accomplished. They requested colored markers andstaplers, in addition to what was offered. Instead of just creating the headpieces and addingsequins and such, the students chose to make them personal. For example, some wrote names orphrases on the pieces and others made them symbolic. As students became more vocal, I couldlearn their needs in how to be motivated and, therefore, modify my lessons accordingly. Withoutany historical references to abide by, the students felt accomplished due to the allowance offreedom to introduce their own themes and materials in the process. The Basketball Fan. Construction paper and foam sheets. Student, 2010Week two: The second lesson was about the process of encaustic book covers for hand-structuredsketchbooks. An Abstract Expressionist artist was introduced in order to provide a visual exampleof randomness and unstructured looking artwork; an historical condition. Little discussion abouthis process was attempted but the students began to ask and we briefly discussed his methods andpersonality. They became extremely anxious to start the project. The materials were hole paper,punchers, fasteners, wax crayons, lamination pockets, and a child safe portable laminatingmachine. As a back up for materials, I also provided wallpaper books for patterned or decorativebook covers. This activity was of interest yet was simple enough to allow for open dialogue in its 9
  10. 10. duration of production. They then, began to apply the process of mixing different color waxestogether, through trial and error of output. Most made the sketchbooks, but some chose to hangtheir creations as pictures to display or keep as a personal placemat. Experiment. Melted wax on paper and laminate. Student, 2010Week three: Lesson number three was a collage project. Students were provided with scissors, paper,glue, current newspapers, junk mail, and National Geographic and periodical magazines. Thecollage was to be an example of the student and the students identity. We discussed currentevents, music, art, and lifestyles. Some students did not participate. Others participated bycuriously reading the articles. A few chose to do this project directly into their recently createdsketchbooks. The finished results ranged from collages of their societal observations to fantasyliving rooms to personally significant clippings of words, phrases, or images. One studentinterpreted the project as layering paper to create a cell phone, another expressed abandonment ina loosely applied collage. During this lesson, I noticed a 2 dimensional paper mask and a studentproudly announced it was hers. We briefly discussed previous experiences in mask making. She 10
  11. 11. Paper Cell Phone. Collage. Student, 2010 Betrayed. Collage. Student,2010and some other students requested to do an art project that related to mask making, a project theyhad done for a Social Studies class. I offered a different way to make them for our class, in athree-dimensional or relief forms. We agreed that it would be the next lesson.Week four: Students had decided upon mask wall hangings a week before. I participated by includingimages of multiple, cultural masks. I also showed the classes an authentic plaster mold replicafrom an ancient Mayan calendar. I thought would be of great interest due to the recent notorietyof the predicted Mayan Armageddon, in the year 2012. This coordinated with Mayan masks andrelief surfaces. The original project of mask making evolved into a new idea of relief molds. Thefirst stage of materials provided were metal, disposable pie plates, colored pencils, maskexemplars, and correlating resource materials. In each class, a couple of students were if theywould volunteer to take charge of ensuring the molds safety. They agreed. The interest wasoverwhelming and the project evolved away from the requested mask wall hangings and ontotheir desire to design bas-relief surfaces. Most of the students chose to etch into aluminum plates to form relief surfaces with theirown designs. The colored pencils served a multi-purpose. They were soft enough to bend into themetal without tearing. It also left behind tones of color. Students were inquisitive and learned asimple process they could do in their own home with recycled materials. One student was curiousas to what the Chinese symbol of Yin and Yang was for her embossing others experimented with 11
  12. 12. Student/mask::Teacher /Mayan mask Teacher/Mayan Calendar Student/exploration of metallic reliefcutting the tin or making patterns with words or flowers. All of the students that participateddecided to not make masks after all. They all applied applications in bas-relief style with theoption of making a mold from it in the future. They participated nearly in full and were extremelyproud of where their own creative ideas, with some requested guidance from the teacherregarding process, had led them. This was the last of my visits to the school and theadministrators were provided with simple instructions for teachers on how to complete the projectby pressing self-drying clay into the surfaces created by the students.Results: I divided the criteria for measuring progress of the students into four categories; dialogueand participation, participation only, dialogue only, and neither participation nor dialogue. Datahas been estimated to the nearest percentage due to the fact that, daily, some students were notpresent or a new student joined the class. Observation and activity was based on seven, 45 minuteclasses per week with an average of ten students per class, each meeting once per week. On apercentage scale about 50% of the students engaged fully for the first project. The others engagedin 20% to 25% for the other three categories. The percent of students who engaged in fullparticipation and dialogue increased weekly by an estimated 10% to 15% per week. As thepercentages in this categories increased, the percentages in the other three categories mostlydecreased by 5% each week. The Dialogue Only category reduced to less than 1% by week four.There was a steady 10% of neither participation nor dialogue in the second and third weeks of artclasses. The percentage of students in this category did, however, decrease during the fourth weekduring their personally selected application of ideas and materials. 12
  13. 13. DIALOGUE - INTERACTIVE STUDENT CENTRIC DISCUSSION (BETWEEN TEACHER AND STUDENT) PARTICIPATION - DESIRE TO BE ACTIVELY INVOLVED IN PROJECT(S) Total student/teacher interaction: one class a week per student (about 70 students).IV. Conclusion: While not all the students participated, many of them had much to offer in termsrevealing their own identity in the art classroom and interests of what they would prefer to learn.The few who did not participate spoke negatively about themselves, behaved negatively withviolence and anger, or voluntarily remained isolated from the groups. These students were new tothe institution and time will allow for their transition into liberation from their oppressive pasts.Some students displayed less severe behavioral problems, as expected with being a new andinvasive person in the classroom. Very calmly and without frustration, I let them know the realityof their behaviors; e.g. age appropriateness or disrespect for others physically or with suppliesand materials that would result in intervention protocol. Others were simply rude. For example, 13
  14. 14. when a student began to interrupt class, physically and verbally, during the initial engagement ofstudent/teacher dialogue, I offered this student the opportunity to switch roles with me. At first,these students would appear dissatisfied with my presence, but ultimately, became friendly andopen to dialogue and participation. By applying this pedagogy in an art classroom, it created an affect on students; theybegan identifying their interests, expressed their hopes, and revealed their intentions in society inthe future. Gradually introducing additional material that was related to the students topics ofchoice created more interests and newer ideas. This also encouraged students desires to discussother cultures and history. The classroom became a revolving door of information from bothteacher and student. I also acknowledged each and every student, if not by name, by gentlypatting their shoulder while complimenting on their efforts. I sat with students at the tables anddiscussed topics relating to them and my ignorance of some of these topics while they wereworking on activities. The students gained independence by being the initiators of the lessons andhow they would proceed, therefore gaining a strong interest, absorbing the information, andprocessing the knowledge through creativity. As the teacher, I learned what the students neededand how they needed to learn it, which in a way, made me dependent upon their participation.More time spent with these students would have made for an accomplished curriculum with muchto learn for an art educator in an oppressed environment. In closure, the finished projects varied in a range, from critical issues to creativeapplications, depending on individual students and capability of production. This is pedagogy isfor critical, creative, and radical teaching. Freire believed that it will, without a doubt, bemisconstrued as an anarchist method. Revolution is normally perceived as rebellion but in thiscause, it means self-transformation, which is clearly defined in the book. The Pedagogy Of TheOppressed serves as an encyclopedia for understanding, in detail, the background of theoppressed and the oppressors, habits of mind, and the methodology of interrelated processes. Thispedagogy is not for the sectarian institution or traditional educator. It requires strict commitmentto the liberal, non-definitive, and dialogue based methods, that are outlined by Freire. The processis a long and continuous one for students and teachers for the ultimate goal of revolutionizing thepsychological path to leading a life of human freedom. 14
  15. 15. V. Instructional Resource: Revolutionary Leadership through the Art Classroom for students grade levels 6-12 Expressing thoughts through collage. Student, 2010History Revolutionizing a classroom to be student centered for an oppressed environment is aprocess that takes several weeks to establish. With modification in the teachers role, the overallintention is to practice the method of students and teacher symbiotically learning and teachingeach other in order to achieve the cultural synthesis and consciousness of individual identity.Cultural Synthesis is a process that is married to the same philosophy in the art classroom. Byallowing the students to be free with their own identities and processes in the creativeproductions, they will then become interested in exploring others ideas. The teacher becomes theobserver, acknowledges students abilities, and discovers with the students, a manner in whichthey can cognitively, creatively, and effectively have a productive unity. Several classes areneeded to set-up and build a comfort zone for students. As dialogue grows, students become morevocal about taking leadership in how they wanted to learn about art. In adapting to their needs or 15
  16. 16. desires, one student initiated modification leads to another. More students begin to becomeinvolved in learning the process of being the independent initiator of their creativity. Thispedagogy is not for every teacher, is specifically designed for victims of social injustices oroppressions, and is a radical, dialogical method that requires both student and teachercommitments.Goal: Create works of art through mutual learning.Essential Question: Can revolutionary or liberal learning be applied in the art room?Studio Application: The students productively create art in a mutual learning environment between teacherand student. In the creative freedom that the students use to progress, the art class teacher can stillmet the educational standards for art and humanities with the inclusion of multidisciplinaryapplications. Initially, provide small activities that can be produced while engaging in dialogueregarding various issues, initiated by students. There should be plenty of dialogue between theteacher and student and a sharing of ideas and interests. Begin with an absence of historicdocumentation or visuals. Gradually introduce visuals related to topics of discussions andactivities. After several studio sessions and activities, students and teacher create a comfort zoneby engaging in dialogue. When students independent thought processes begin, they will thendecide on the style of art they would like to produce. They create through voluntary decisionmaking in an involuntary situation. Students take ownership of their ability to learn how toimprove skills in craftsmanship, processing ideas, and applying creative elements with a desire tolearn more. The result is production of artwork in a student-centered classroom that is motivatingfor students suffering from having limited interests.Objectives:Students will: • Improve cognitive skills by engaging in dialogue • Develop cognitive skills by independently selecting projects • Develop motor skills through unrehearsed applications of materials • Improve psycho-motor skills by exploring stages of evolution in ideas and processes • Create a work of art 16
  17. 17. Procedure: 1. Upon first meeting students, introduce project that is slightly goal specific with plenty of room for modification. Give students the option to participate. 2. Begin dialogue with students.(sit with them, participate, answer their questions, compliment them). 3. Discuss students histories, achievements, knowledge, and interests. 4. Repeat in each class until students begin to reveal their interests and take leadership in what they want to learn and choose a project. 5. Introduce materials and related resources for selected project. Introduce materials that may somehow relate to the topic or idea that was selected. 6. Offer students opportunity to be leaders of tasks: e.g. overseers of equipment or materials 7. Let students choose what direction they want to go with their projects and processes in conjunction with the available materials, clay or plaster, scissors, etc.Suggested Materials and Resources:  Recycled materials: lids, cartons, tins  Wallpaper books, Assorted papers: card stock, construction, foam  Assorted materials: beads, sequins, wiggle eyes, etc.  Glue: Elmers, Tacky  Scissors  Colored pencils, Colored Markers, Paint and brushes  Visual references, Tactile examples of cultural art piecesAssessment Suggestions:*Rubrics with behavioral modifications and adaptive methods -Participation in discussion, Individualized creative processSafety concerns: Exacto bladesTime : 50 minutes per class, 16 weeks 17
  18. 18. VI. References:Freire, P. (1970). The pedagogy of the oppressed (M. Ramos, Trans.) .New York: Seabury Press.Smith, M. K. (1997, 2002) Paulo Freire and informal education. The encyclopedia of informaleducation. Retrieved March 1,2010 from Freire Institute UCLA (2010). Retrieved from*Special Thanks to the staff and students at St. Marys Villa for Children 18