Thursday, January 27, 2011

Inspired by Freire

Why am I always so inspired and renewed when I read anything by Paulo Freire? One of the chapters in the book I am using in Schools and Society is an excerpt from his book Pedagogy of the Oppressed; it seems to stand out from all the others, most of which are also really good, as a beacon of hope, a vignette of sweetness and light.

In it, Freire defines the banking concept of education which he characterizes as the deposit of knowledge by the teacher, who knows everything, into the mind of the student, who knows nothing, as a form of oppression. He contrasts this with an idea of education he calls conscientizacao, a form of critical consciousness. This form of education is problem centered and asks the learner to raise questions and to think critically of her/his experiences in the world. He also characterizes it by the way the student should interact and be a part of the world they are learning about rather than being vicariously or superficially present.

In other words, students need to be critically involved in what they are learning, not in a sense of revolt or confrontation, but to question, wonder, be curious and want to understand rather than simply know. They need to take on this responsibility if they are to develop their critical consciousness to a point where they can really make a difference in the world.
If you do read Freire you might want to have a dictionary or Wiki handy: there's at least one word in each paragraph I don't know. Isn't that neat?

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