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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.
contents: introduction | contribution | critique | further reading and references | links
Paulo Freire (1921 - 1997), the Brazilian educationalist, has left a significant mark on thinking about progressive practice. His Pedagogy of the Oppressed is currently one of the most quoted educational texts (especially in Latin America, Africa and Asia). Freire was able to draw upon, and weave together, a number of strands of thinking about educational practice and liberation. Sometimes some rather excessive claims are made for his work e.g. 'the most significant educational thinker of the twentieth century'. He wasn't - John Dewey would probably take that honour - but Freire certainly made a number of important theoretical innovations that have had a considerable impact on the development of educational practice - and on informal education and popular education in particular. In this piece we assess these - and briefly examine some of the critiques that can be made of his work.
Five aspects of Paulo Freire's work have a particular significance for our purposes here. First, his emphasis on dialogue has struck a very strong chord with those concerned with popular and informal education. Given that informal education is a dialogical (or conversational) rather than a curricula form this is hardly surprising. However, Paulo Freire was able to take the discussion on several steps with his insistence that dialogue involves respect. It should not involve one person acting on another, but rather people working with each other. Too much education, Paulo Freire argues, involves 'banking' - the educator making 'deposits' in the educatee.
Second, Paulo Freire was concerned with praxis - action that is informed (and linked to certain values). Dialogue wasn't just about deepening understanding - but was part of making a difference in the world. Dialogue in itself is a co-operative activity involving respect. The process is important and can be seen as enhancing community and building social capital and to leading us to act in ways that make for justice and human flourishing. Informal and popular educators have had a long-standing orientation to action - so the emphasis on change in the world was welcome. But there was a sting in the tail. Paulo Freire argued for informed action and as such provided a useful counter-balance to those who want to diminish theory.
Third, 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. An important element of this was his concern with conscientization - developing consciousness, but consciousness that is understood to have the power to transform reality' (Taylor 1993: 52).
Fourth, 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. His concern to look for words that have the possibility of generating new ways of naming and acting in the world when working with people around literacies is a good example of this.
Fifth, 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. In part this is to occur as learners develop their consciousness, but mainly it comes through the 'class suicide' or 'Easter experience' of the teacher.
The educator for liberation has to die as the unilateral educator of the educatees, in order to be born again as the educator-educatee of the educatees-educators. An educator is a person who has to live in the deep significance of Easter. Quoted by Paul Taylor (1993: 53)
Inevitably, there are various points of criticism. First, many are put off by Paulo Freire's language and his appeal to mystical concerns. The former was a concern of Freire himself in later life - and his work after Pedagogy of the Oppressed was usually written within a more conversational or accessible framework.
Second, Paulo Freire tends to argue in an either/or way. We are either with the oppressed or against them. This may be an interesting starting point for teaching, but taken too literally it can make for rather simplistic (political) analysis.
Third, there is an tendency in Freire to overturn everyday situations so that they become pedagogical. Freire's approach was largely constructed around structured educational situations. While his initial point of reference might be non-formal, the educational encounters he explores remain formal (Torres 1993: 127) In other words, his approach is still curriculum-based and entail transforming settings into a particular type of pedagogical space. This can rather work against the notion of dialogue (in that curriculum implies a predefined set of concerns and activities). Educators need to look for 'teachable moments' - but when we concentrate on this we can easily overlook simple power of being in conversation with others.
Fourth, what is claimed as liberatory practice may, on close inspection, be rather closer to banking than we would wish. In other words, the practice of Freirian education can involve smuggling in all sorts of ideas and values under the guise of problem-posing. Taylor's analysis of Freire's literacy programme shows that:
.. the rhetoric which announced the importance of dialogue, engagement, and equality, and denounced silence, massification and oppression, did not match in practice the subliminal messages and modes of a Banking System of education. Albeit benign, Freire's approach differs only in degree, but not in kind, from the system which he so eloquently criticizes. (Taylor 1993: 148)
Educators have to teach. They have to transform transfers of information into a 'real act of knowing' (op cit: 43).
Fifth, there are problems regarding Freire's model of literacy. While it may be taken as a challenge to the political projects of northern states, his analysis remains rooted in assumptions about cognitive development and the relation of literacy to rationality that are suspect (Street 1983: 14). His work has not 'entirely shrugged off the assumptions of the "autonomous model"' (ibid.: 14).
Last, there are questions concerning the originality of Freire's contribution. As Taylor has put it - to say that as many commentators do that Freire's thinking is 'eclectic', is 'to underestimate the degree to which he borrowed directly from other sources' (Taylor 1993: 34). Taylor (1993: 34-51) brings out a number of these influences and 'absorbtions' - perhaps most interestingly the extent to which the structure of Pedagogy of the Oppressed parallels Kosik's Dialectic of the Concrete (published in Spanish in the mid 1960s). Here we would simply invite you to compare Freire's interests with those of Martin Buber. His concern with conversation, encounter, being and ethical education have strong echoes in Freirian thought.
Further reading and references
Key texts: Paulo Freire's central work remains:
Freire, P. (1972) Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Harmondsworth: Penguin. Important exploration of dialogue and the possibilities for liberatory practice. Freire provides a rationale for a pedagogy of the oppressed; introduces the highly influential notion of banking education; highlights the contrasts between education forms that treat people as objects rather than subjects; and explores education as cultural action. See, also:
Freire, P. (1995) Pedagogy of Hope. Reliving Pedagogy of the Oppressed, New York: Continuum. This book began as a new preface to his classic work, but grew into a book. It's importance lies in Freire's reflection on the text and how it was received, and on the development of policy and practice subsequently. Written in a direct and engaging way.
Biographical material: There are two useful English language starting points:
Freire, P. (1996) Letters to Cristina. Reflections on my life and work, London: Routledge. Retrospective on Freire's work and life. in the form of letters to his niece. He looks back at his childhood experiences, to his youth, and his life as an educator and policymaker.
Gadotti, M. (1994) Reading Paulo Freire. His life and work, New York: SUNY Press. Clear presentation of Freire's thinking set in historical context written by a close collaborator.
For my money the best critical exploration of his work is:
Taylor, P. (1993) The Texts of Paulo Freire, Buckingham: Open University Press.
Kosik, K. (1988) La dialectique du concret, Paris: Plon.
Street, B. V. (1984) Literacy in Theory and Practice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Torres, C. A. (1993) 'From the "Pedagogy of the Oppressed" to "A Luta Continua": the political pedagogy of Paulo Freire' in P. McLaren and P. Leonard (eds.) Freire: A critical encounter, London: Routledge.
Lesley Bentley - Paulo Freire. Brief biography plus lots of useful links.
Catedra Paulo Freire (Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Sao Paulo) - click for English version.
Blanca Facundo's critique of Freire's ideas, and reactions to Facundo's critique - interesting collection of pieces.
Paulo Freire Institute - a wide range of material available about current work in the Freirian tradition. Click for the English version.
Daniel Schugurensky on Freire - consists of a collection of reviews of his books and links to other pages.
How to cite this article: Smith, M. K. (1997, 2002) 'Paulo Freire and informal education', the encyclopaedia of informal education. [www.infed.org/thinkers/et-freir.htm. Last update: November 05, 2007]© Mark K. Smith 1997, 2002
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Thoughts by Paulo Freire
"A teacher is no longer merely the one who teaches; but one who is himself taught in dialogue with the students, who in turn while being taught also teach." Brief bio: Brazilian educator and author Paulo Freire (born Sept. 19, 1921, Recife, Brazil, died May 2, 1997, São Paulo, Brazil) sought to empower the world's oppressed through literacy programs that encouraged social and political awareness. Freire ) was Brazil's most important educator and author of many other books. He can be a tough read. His written Portuguese tends toward complex sentence structure, which makes tough going in English translation. He also liked to create words. However, his ideas are powerful and worth some effort to read and understand. In his seminal work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 1970, Eng. ed. 1972), Freire argued that the passive nature of traditional education promoted repression. He likened such backward teaching to a bank, wherein a teacher deposited information--which Freire believed was largely false--and the student passively collected. Freire favored a "pedagogy of liberation" that encouraged dialogue between teacher and student. He sought to empower students to ask questions and to challenge the status quo. He began refining his methods during the 1950s, when he taught literacy to peasants--adult men. The use of everyday words and ideas in his lessons proved highly effective. Many of Freire's students needed only 30 hours of instruction before being able to read and write.
In 1963 he was appointed director of the Brazilian National Literacy Program, and in this post he outlined a plan to educate five million Brazilians. The military dictators who seized power in a coup in 1964 jailed Freire for subversion. Literate peasants and workers might well challenge Brazil's backward institutions-- just what Freire hoped. After his release he went into exile, he traveled the world, assisting in the establishment of literacy programs and teaching at a number of universities. In 1979 he returned to Brazil, where he cofounded the left-wing Workers Party. He served as education secretary of São Paulo beginning in 1988 but resigned several years later. Freire wrote more than 20 books, many considered classics in the field of education. His views have become widely influential in what is usually termed critical pedagogy.
Additional biographical and bibliographical information on Paulo Freire
Thoughts on Education and PoliticsSelections from The Paulo Freire Reader (Continuum, 1998)
- A humanizing education is the path through which men and women can become conscious about their presence in the world. The way they act and think when they develop all their capacities, taking into consideration, their needs, but also the needs and aspirations of others. (p. 9)
- The pedagogy of the oppressed animated by authentic humanism (and not humanitarianism) generously presents itself as a pedagogy of man. Pedagogy which begins with the egoistic interests of the oppressors ( an egoism cloaked in the false generosity of paternalism) and makes of the oppressed the objects of its humanitarianism, itself maintains and embodies oppression. It is an instrument of dehumanization. (p. 12)
- But while both humanization and dehumanization are real alternatives, only the first is the people's vocation. This vocation is constantly negated, yet it is affirmed by that very negation. It is thwarted by injustice, exploitation, oppression, and the violence of the oppressors; it is affirmed by the yearning of the oppressed for freedom and justice, and by their struggle to recover their lost humanity. (p. 45)
- Not infrequently, peasants in educational projects begin to discuss a generative theme in a lively manner, then stop suddenly and say to the education: "Excuse us, we ought to keep quiet and let you talk. You are the one who knows, we don't know anything." They often insist that there is no difference between them and the animals: when they do admit a difference, it favors the animals. "They are freer than we are." (p. 62)
- A revolutionary leadership must accordingly practice co-intentional education. Teachers and students (leadership and people), co-intent on reality, are both Subjects, not only in the task of unveiling that reality, and thereby coming to know it critically, but in the task of re-creating that knowledge. As they attain this knowledge of reality through common reflection and action, they discover themselves as its permanent re-creators. In this way, the presence of the oppressed in the struggle for their liberation will be what it should be: not pseudo-participation, but committed involvement. (pp. 66-67)
- Critique of the "Banking" Concept of Education: Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiqués and makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat. (p. 67)
- Liberating education consists in acts of cognition, not transferals of information. It is a learning situation in which the cognizable object (far from being the end of the cognitive act) intermediates the cognitive actors--teacher on the one hand and students on the other. Accordingly, the practice of problem-posing education entails at the outset that the teacher-student contradiction be resolved. Dialogical relations--indispensable to the capacity of cognitive actors to cooperate in perceiving the same cognizable object--are other impossible. (p. 74)
- Problem-posing education affirms men and women as beings in the process of becoming--as unfinished, uncompleted beings in and with a likewise unfinished reality. Indeed, in contrast to other animals who are unfinished, but not historical, people know themselves to be unfinished: they are aware of their incompletion. In this incompletion and this awareness lie the very roots of education as an exclusively human manifestation. The unfinished character of human beings and the transformational character of reality necessitate that education be an ongoing activity. (p. 77)
- One aspect of the reply is to be found in the distinction between systematic education, which can only be changed by political power, and educational projects, which should be carried out with the oppressed in the process of organizing them. (p. 54)
Paulo Freire, Letters to Cristina: Reflections on My Life and Work (trans. By Donald Macedo, 1996)
These excepts reveal something of Freire's childhood, education, and other formative life experiences.
Childhood: “The search became almost a game and I started to learn the most minute details of our backyard. The banana tree leaves; the majestic cashew tree with its branches trailing on the ground, its roots curving up through the dirt like the veins of old hands; the coconut tree; the various types of mango trees; the breakfast tree and the strong wind that moved the tree branches; the singing of the birds: all of these things expanded my curiosity as a fascinated child.
The knowledge that I was gaining of my childhood world—such as the wavy shadows, like dancing bodies, projected by banana tree leaves— began to secure in me a form of calmness that other children my age did not have. The more I tried to understand during the day how things worked, by attempting to determine varied noises and their causes, the more I began to feel liberated from my ghostly nights. My efforts to know did not kill, however, my childlike spontaneity or replace it with a deformed rationality. In truth, I was not the type of kid who spoke much of his upright world, characterized by coat, necktie, and heavy starched collar, or who repeated adults' words.
I lived my world intensely. From my experiences I began to learn about the world's day-to-day routine without losing sight of the world's beauty. Simply put, I began to move through the world with security, whether by day or by night.
My father played an important role in my constant search for understanding. Being affectionate, intelligent, and open, he never refused to listen to us talk about our interests. He and my mother were a harmonious couple whose union did not lose them their individuality. They exemplified for us what it means to be understood and to understand, never showing any signs of intolerance. Although my mother was Catholic and my father was a spiritualist, they always respected each other's religious opinions. From them, I learned early on the value of dialogue. I never was afraid to ask questions, and I do not recall ever being punished for disagreeing with them.
They taught me how to read my first words and then how to write them on the ground with a wooden stick under the shade of our mango tree. My first words and phrases were linked to my experiences and not my parents'. Instead of a boring primer or, worse, an "ABC Table" for memorizing the letters of the alphabet (as if students learn how to speak by sounding out letters), I had my backyard as my first primer, my first world, my first school. The ground, protected by tree leaves, was my blackboard and sticks were my chalk.
Early Education: By six years of age, when I arrived at the little school where Eunice Vasconcelos was my first professional teacher, I already knew how to read and write. I have never forgotten the joy with which I welcomed the exercises called "sentence forming" that our teacher gave us. She would ask me to write in a straight line all the words that I knew. Afterward, I was supposed to form sentences with these words and later we discussed the meaning of each sentence I had created. This is how, little by little, I began to know my verbs, tenses, and moods; she taught me by increasing the level of difficulty. My teacher's fundamental preoccupation was not with making me memorize grammatical definitions but with stimulating the development of my oral and writing abilities.
There was no rupture between my parents' teaching at home and the pedagogy of my teacher Eunice at school. At home, as in school, I was always invited to learn and never reduced to an empty vessel to be filled with knowledge.
No barrier existed between the way I was raised at home and the work I was given at school. Thus, schoolwork never was a threat to my curiosity but rather was a stimulus. The time I spent playing and searching in my backyard was not the same as my experiences in school, but school was not my opposite point of reference, something that made me feel uncomfortable. Time spent in my backyard overflowed into time in school, making me feel happy in both spaces. In the final analysis, even though school had its own conditions, it did not limit my joy in life. It is the same joy in life that has characterized my entire life. It is the same joy in life that I experienced as a child in Jaboarao and which I continued to experience, as a man, during my time in exile. This joy has a great deal to do with my optimistic outlook on life, which means that, as a critical person, I am never paralyzed by life. This is why I always push myself toward forms of engagement and action that are compatible with my political beliefs. . . .
Some Lessons of History: In 1928, I listened to my father and my Uncle Monteiro say that it was not only necessary to change the state of things, but urgent. The country was being destroyed, robbed, humiliated. They used that notorious phrase, "Brazil is right on the edge of the abyss." These are the kinds of things they would talk about: "They won't speak, and if they do, they won't be heard; they'll be oppressed." They referred here to Vieira.
In a greeting to the marquess of Montalvao, viceroy of Brazil, at the Misericordia Hospital in Bahia in 1638, Vieira said, in the most political of all his sermons, that the silence imposed by the crown was one of Brazil's worst predicaments.We well know, those of us who speak the Latin language that this word infans, infante, means one who does not speak. That was the State the boy Baptist was in when Our Lady came to visit him. This is also the stare in which Brazil has been for many years, which, in my view, has been the major cause of its troubles. Since the patient cannot speak, all conjectures are difficult medicine. That is why, of all the sufferers Christ cured, none required so much time or care as the dumb possessed man: the worst accident Brazil suffered in its infirmity was that of doing away with its own voice. Many times it may have wanted to righteously complain, many times it may have wanted to ask for the medicine to cure its condition, but respect or violence has always drowned the words in its throat, and if ever a word has made it to the ears of those who should provide a remedy, so have the voices of power, to ensure victory for the claims of reason.Brazil wastes away, My Lord, (let us say it in one word) because some ministers of His Majesty do not come here to seek our welfare, but rather to seek our wealth.
Vieira played with the meanings of "taking," at times using it to mean the act of accepting responsibility, control, and at times to mean the act of possessing what belongs to others, robbery. Vieira went so far as to say to the Marquess of Montalvao and his entourage:The King orders them [the ministers] to take Pernambuco, and they are content to take it. This taking possession of what is others', whether by the King or by the peoples, is the source of [Brazil's] disease. And the various arts and ways and instruments of taking are the symptoms that, being extremely dangerous by nature, make the disease even more lethal. I ask, just so the causes of the symptoms become better known: In this land, does the minister of justice take? Yes, he takes. Does the minister of finance? Yes, he takes. Does the minister of the republic? Yes, he takes. Does the minister of the militia? Yes, he takes. Does the minister of state? Yes, he takes.Joaquim Nabuco in 1879, giving a speech about a project for constitutional reform, said:Gentlemen the project being currently discussed comes to this registry under the saddest of auspices. It is a project that has been debated by a council of ministers, resolved in ministerial conference, and for that reason, I said, and the honorable representative from Piauf [Mr. Doria] seconded my expression, that the investigative record on this parliamentary initiative has languished on the minister of justice's desk. The project was discussed with the emperor, was the object of transactions within the ministry leading to the termination of two of its most prominent members, and, only after having gone through all these procedures and investigations, arrived at this house, where it was endorsed by a vast majority on the same day. . . .
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Brazilian adult educator, Paulo Freire, died Friday, May 2, 1997, of a heart attack. He was 75 years old. His legacy of commitment, love and hope to American educators can be found in the critical pedagogy which infuses hundreds of "grass roots" organizations, college classrooms, and most recently school reform efforts in major urban areas.
Exiled from his native Brazil during a military coup in 1964 for his educational work among the rural poor, he continued his "pedagogy of the oppressed" in Chile, and later--under the auspices of the World Council of Churches in Geneva--throughout the world. In 1969, he taught at Harvard University and ten years later returned to his own country under a political amnesty. In 1988 he was also appointed Minister of Education for the City of Sao Paulo--a position which made him responsible for guiding school reform within two-thirds of the nation's schools.
For a brief overview of the work and life of Paulo Freire, see the text below by Denis Collins, adapted from his book, Paulo Freire: His Life, Works and Thought. You can also check the homepage for the Paulo Freire Institute. There is also A Homage written by Moacir Gadotti (Universidade de Sao Paulo) and Carlos Torres (UCLA). For reviews of Paulo's major writings check the page created by Daniel Schugurensky at the University of Toronto.
Freire's life and work as an educator is optimistic in spite of poverty, imprisonment, and exile. He is a world leader in the struggle for the liberation of the poorest of the poor: the marginalized classes who constitute the "cultures of silence" in many lands. On a planet where more than half the people go hungry every day because nations are incapable of feeding all their citizens, where we cannot yet agree that every human being has a right to eat and to be housed, Paulo Freire toils to help men and women overcome their sense of powerlessness to act in their own behalf.
He was born on September 19, 1921 in Recife, a port city of northeastern Brazil. He has said of his parents that it was they who taught him at an early age to prize dialogue and to respect the choices of others-key elements in his understanding of adult education. His parents were middle class but suffered financial reverses so severe during the Great Depression that Freire learned what it is to go hungry. It was in childhood that he determined to dedicate his life to the struggle against hunger.
After his family situation improved a bit, he was able to enter the University of Recife where he enrolled in the Faculty of Law and also studied philosophy and the psychology of language while working part-time as an instructor of Portuguese in a secondary school. During this same period he was reading the works of Marx and also Catholic intellectuals-Maritain, Bernanos, and Mounier-all of whom strongly influenced his educational philosophy.
In 1944, Freire married Elza Maia Costa Oliveira of Recife, a grade school teacher who eventually bore three daughters and two sons. As a parent, Paulo's interest in theories of education began to grow, leading him to do more extensive reading in education, philosophy, and the sociology of education than in law. In fact after passing the bar he quickly abandoned law as a means of earning a living in order to go to work as a welfare official and later as director of the Department of Education and Culture of the Social Service in the State of Pernambuco.
His experiences during those years of public service brought him into direct contact with the urban poor. The educational and organizational assignments he undertook there led him to begin to formulate a means of communicating with the dispossessed that would later develop into his dialogical method for adult education. His involvement in adult education also included directing seminars and teaching courses in the history and philosophy of education at the University of Recife, where he was awarded a doctoral degree in 1959.
In the early 1960's Brazil was a restless nation. Numerous reform movements flourished simultaneously as socialists, communists, students, labor leaders, populists, and Christian militants all sought their own socio-political goals. It was in the midst of this ferment and heightened expectations that Freire became the first director of the University of Recife's Cultural Extension Service which brought literacy programs to thousands of peasants in the northeast. Later, from June 1963 up to March 1964, Freire's literacy teams worked throughout the entire nation. They claimed success in interesting adult illiterates to read and write in as short a time as thirty hours!
The secret of this success is found in the resistance of Freire and his co-workers to merely teaching the instrumental and decontextualized skills of reading and writing, but rather by presenting participation in the political process through knowledge of reading and writing as a desirable and attainable goal for all Brazilians. Freire won the attention of the poor and awakened their hope that they could start to have a say in the day-to-day decisions that affected their lives in the Brazilian countryside. Peasant passivity and fatalism waned as literacy became attainable and valued. Freire's methods were incontestably politicizing and, in the eyes of the Brazilian military and land-owners anxious to stave off land reform, outrageously radical.
Eventually, the military overthrew the reform-minded Goulart regime in Brazil in April of 1964. All progressive movements were suppressed and Freire was thrown into jail for his "subversive" activities. He spent a total of seventy days there where he was repeatedly questioned and accused. In prison he began his first major educational work, Education as the Practice of Freedom. This book, an analysis of Paulo's failure to effect change in Brazil, had to be completed in Chile, because Freire was sent into exile.
After his expulsion from Brazil, Freire worked in Chile for five years with the adult education programs of the Eduardo Frei government headed by Waldemar Cortes who attracted international attention and UNESCO acknowledgment that Chile was one of the five nations of the world which had best succeeded in overcoming illiteracy.
Toward the end of the 1960's, Freire's work brought him into contact with a new culture that changed his thought significantly. At the invitation of Harvard University he left Latin America to come to the United States where he taught as Visiting Professor at Harvard's Center for Studies in Education and Development and was also Fellow at the Center for the Study of Development and Social Change.
Those years were, of course, a period of violent unrest in the United States when opposition to the country's involvement in Southeast Asia brought police and militias onto university campuses. Racial unrest had, since 1965, flared into violence on the streets of American cities. Minority spokespersons and war protesters were publishing and teaching, and they influenced Freire profoundly. His reading of the American scene was an awakening to him because he found that repression and exclusion of the powerless from economic and political life was not limited to third world countries and cultures of dependence. He extended his definition of the third world from a geographical concern to a political concept, and the theme of violence became a greater preoccupation in his writings from that time on.
It is during this period that Freire wrote his more famous work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Education is to be the path to permanent liberation and admits of two stages. The first stage is that by which people become aware (conscientized) of their oppression and through praxis transform that state. The second stage builds upon the first and is a permanent process of liberating cultural action.
After leaving Harvard in the early 1970's, Freire served as consultant and eventually as Assistant Secretary of Education for the World Council of Churches in Switzerland and traveled all over the world lecturing and devoting his efforts to assisting educational programs of newly independent countries in Asia and Africa, such as Tanzania and Guinea Bissau. He also served as chair of the executive committee of the Institute for Cultural Action (IDAC) which is headquartered in Geneva.
In 1979, Paulo was invited by the Brazilian government to return from exile where he assumed a faculty position at the University of Sao Paulo. In 1988 he was also appointed Minister of Education for the City of Sao Paulo-a position which made him responsible for guiding school reform within two-thirds of the nation's schools.
In 1992, Paulo Freire celebrated his 70th birthday in New York with over two hundred friends-adult educators, educational reformers, scholars and "grass-roots" activists. Three days of festivity and workshops, sponsored by the New School for Social Research, marked the ongoing, vital impact of the life and work of Paulo Freire.
Paulo Freire died in Rio de Janeiro on May 2, 1997, at the age of 75. He leaves behind a legacy of commitment, love, and hope for oppressed peoples throughout the world.
Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum 1970.
This early work remains the best introduction to Freire's critique of education and the consequent pedagogy of liberation which he first developed in Chile. Although convoluted and replete with neologisms (and sexist language, concerning which his consciousness was soon raised by his students in the United States), the book merits careful and critical reading.
Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Hope. New York: Continuum 1994.
This text represents a chronicle and synthesis of ongoing social struggles in Latin America and the Third World. Freire, reflecting his dialogues with adult educators over the past twenty-five years, reexamines his best-known analytic themes-with even deeper understanding and a greater wisdom.
John L. Elias, Paulo Freire: Pedagogue of Liberation. Malabar, FL: Kreiger Press 1994.
This book analyzes the historical and conceptual background of Freire's work, looking especially at the major influences on his writings: liberalism, existentialism, phenomenology, Catholic liberation theology, and Marxism.
Blanca Facundo, Freire Inspired Programs in the United States and Puerto Rico: A Critical Evaluation. Washington, D.C.: The Latino Institute 1984.
This well documented critique of Freire's work and the programs he inspired is available on-line, together with documents which continue the dialogue which Blanca began in her monograph.
Ira Shor and Paulo Freire, A Pedagogy for Liberation: Dialogues on Transforming Education. Massachusetts: Bergin & Garvey, 1987.
Myles Horton and Paulo Freire, We Make the Road by Walking: Conversations on Education and Social Change. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990.
Freire is at his best in dialogue. The conversations with Ira Shor focus more on classroom issues and, therefore, might be of greater interest to college faculty. The Horton-Freire dialogue is remarkable in its justaposition of Freire's Third World perspective with an American tradition of liberatory education which began at Highlander in the 1930's.
Ira Shor, Critical Teaching and Everyday Life. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1987.
Ira Shor (editor), Freire for the Classroom: A Sourcebook for Liberatory Teaching. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook, 1987.
Both of these books emphasize what can be done in the college classroom. Ira Shor is a faculty member at Staten Island Community College in New York. In Critical Teaching he reflects on his own experiences as a college English teacher with working class students. In Freire in the Classroom he compiles a variety of practical applications of Freirean pedagogy to specific curricula.
Peter McLaren and Peter Leonard, Paulo Freire: A Critical Encounter. London and New York: Routledge, 1993.
McLaren and Leonard have brought together a group of international scholars and educators to reflect on Freire's work. Included among them are Stanley Aronowitz, Henry Giroux, bell hooks, Ira Shor, Carlos Alberto Torres, and Cornel West.
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