Meet Paulo Freire
The Brazilian educator Paulo Freire is among most the influential educational thinkers of the late 20th century. Born in Recife, Brazil, on September 19, 1921, Freire died of heart failure in Sao Paulo, Brazil on May 2, 1997. After a brief career as a lawyer, he taught Portuguese in secondary schools from 1941-1947. He subsequently became active in adult education and workers’ training, and became the first Director of the Department of Cultural Extension of the University of Recife (1961-1964).
Freire quickly gained international recognition for his experiences in literacy training in Northeastern Brazil. Following the military coup d’etat of 1964, he was jailed by the new government and eventually forced into a political exile that lasted fifteen-years.
In 1969 he was a visiting scholar at Harvard University and then moved to Geneva, Switzerland where he assumed the role of special educational adviser to the World Congress of Churches. Hereturned to Brazil in 1979.
Freire’s most well known work is Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970). Throughout this and subsequent books, he argues for system of education that emphasizes learning as an act of culture and freedom. He is most well known for concepts such as “Banking” Education, in which passive learners have pre-selected knowledge deposited in their minds; “Conscientization”, a process by which the learner advances towards critical consciousness; the “Culture of Silence”, in which dominated individuals lose the means by which to critically respond to the culture that is forced on them by a dominant culture. Other important concepts developed by Freire include: “Dialectic”, “Empowerment”, “Generative Themes/Words”, “Humanization”, “Liberatory Education”, “Mystification”, “Praxis”, ” Problematization”, and “Transformation of the World” (Miami.edu).
Read chapter 2 of his famous book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. In it, Paulo Freire distinguishes between what he calls the “banking model” of education and “problem-posing” education or “liberation praxis.” In so doing, Freire brings critical pedagogy deep into conversations about peace education and the role of education at large.
“Education as the practice of freedom – as opposed to education as the practice of domination – denies that man is abstract, isolated, independent, unattached to the world; it also denies that the work exists as a reality apart from people. Authentic reflection considers neither abstract man not the world without people, but people in relations with the world. In these relations consciousness and world are simultaneous: consciousness neither precedes the world nor follows it (Freire, 81).”
Reflection Question: Are their instances and situations where the “banking model” of education is actually the most appropriate or the most effective method in providing a learning experience? If so, what would that learning situation/context be? If not, why not?