Thursday 7 July 2011

The Essence of Education as the Practice of Freedom, Paulo Freire

Translated into several languages, most editions of Pedagogy of the Oppressed contain at least one introduction/foreword, a preface, and four chapters.

The third chapter is devoted to dialogics--"the essence of education as the practice of freedom"--and dialogue. Freire argues that words involve a radical interaction between reflection and action and that true words are transformational. Dialogue requires mutual respect and cooperation to develop understanding and to change the world.

"Authentic" education, according to Freire, will involve dialogue between the teacher and the student, mediated by the broader world context. He warns that the limits imposed upon both the colonizer and the colonized dehumanize everyone involved, thereby removing the ability for dialogue to occur, inevitably barring the possibility of transformation.

The last chapter proposes dialogics as an instrument to free the colonized, through the use of cooperation, unity, organization and cultural synthesis (overcoming problems in society to liberate human beings). This is in contrast to antidialogics which use conquest, manipulation, cultural invasion, and the concept of divide and rule. Freire suggests that populist dialogue is a necessity to revolution; that impeding dialogue dehumanizes and supports the status quo. This is but one example of the dichotomies Freire identifies in the book. Others include the student-teacher dichotomy and the colonizer-colonized dichotomy.

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