Peter Elbow, in his book "Embracing Contraries" gives a summary of Paulo
Freire's liberatory education. Elbow
makes the point well that while it is relatively easy to claim a Freireian approach to teaching, it is much harder to
actually do it. He summarizes the main points as:
PhD candidate in science education
25 years later Freire's ideas are still relevant
Twenty-five years after the first publication of Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freire's message of liberation and social transformation remains relevant today. Translated into numerous languages, and having sold more than five hundred thousand copies world-wide, Pedagogy of the Oppressed continues to be read, debated and discussed all over the world by progressive educators and others who seek to embrace Freire's radical pedagogy. The universal appeal of Freire's works is not limited to the arena of education, but also maintains considerable influence in other disciplines such as political science, anthropology, post-colonial theory, liberation theology, international development studies, urban planning, feminism, and sociology. Freire's central thematic concerns espoused in Pedagogy of the Oppressed maintain on-going relevance to these fields of learning and teaching. Freire's conception of a highly politicized education, the unification of action and analysis, the centrality of dialogue in the process of learning, and the significance of critical awareness in social transformation continue to guide and challenge progressive educators throughout the world.
Additionally, Freire's personal and life-long commitment to unite theory with practice remains a lasting challenge to the field of critical adult education. Freire encourages us to continually evaluate the consistency of our words and actions as educators: "Those who authentically commit themselves to the people must re-examine themselves constantly" (42). By exemplifying a search for knowledge, consistency and transparency in his own life, Freire then invites other progressive educators to do the same. Freire reminds us that critical education is part of a process in which we become more fully human; that praxis is incomplete unless it is placed in history; and that education has subversive potential for social transformation when it is not politically neutral. Pedagogy of the Oppressed is a powerful book with a message of critical radicalism relevant to the post-modern world of the 1990s and beyond. Indeed, Paulo Freire's belief in the potential for social transformation through the process of critical awareness and action is a message that we who perceive globalization to be an unalterable system would do well to remember.
In response to these forces that inhibit the transformation of an oppressive reality, Freire makes a very strong distinction between liberatory dialogue which seeks to transform the oppressed into their own agents for liberation and monologue, slogans and communiquŽs which seek "to liberate the oppressed with the instruments of domestication" (p52). The oppressed cannot enter the struggle as things, people destroyed by propaganda, management and manipulation, but must engage in a co-intentional pedagogy with their teachers to critically acquire knowledge of reality. Looking closely at dialogue, Freire defines its essence as the word whose constituent elements are reflection and action, yet a word spoken without action (or intent of action) is verbalism, and a word spoken without reflection is activism: "There is no true word that is not at the same time a praxis. Thus, to speak a true word is to transform the world." (p75)
Thus, to briefly restate Freire's pedagogy for the oppressed, he posits that a thematic investigation leads to awareness of reality, then self-awareness, then praxis and concientizacao ; in sum, a starting point for the educational process grounded in cultural action of a liberating character. Freire sees this progression as equally beneficial when applied in a micro or macro social realm. That is, just as an oppressed person can learn to be a Subject in his or her transformation of reality, so can Third World nations learn to overcome the oppressive bonds of economic dependency. Yet this belief may be too simplistic in an age when the boundaries of a nation state are being erased by the globalization of economic activity. As the state weakens, how does this affect the list of entitlements, rights and responsibilities that are a society's agreed upon elements for defining citizenship? Certainly the varied conceptions of citizenship all have the shared quality of informing the meaning of humanity. For a non-citizen, a persona non grata, there is little doubt, except in the case of the very wealthy, that this status will have an invidious impact on that person's humanity: where to live, how to earn a living, who to associate with, etc. On this question of humanity, Freire is not specific about what he envisions, other than to say that our ontological vocation is to become more human. But herein is one large question that Freire does not seem to answer clearly, but in so doing may leave us a way to redefine citizenship in the best interests of humanity. And for that matter, I would say that a Pedagogy of the Oppressed is in the best interests of humanity.
(from the Internet)
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