Pedagogy According to Paulo Freire
The Communist University has a tradition of starting every year with a reflection upon our methodology, and on the theory of pedagogy (i.e. theory of learning and teaching) in general, and on the way that practical pedagogy relates to politics.
The great 20th-century theoretician of liberation pedagogy was Paolo Freire. It was Freire who gave us the word “conscientise”. It was Paulo Freire, more than any other, who showed how the bourgeois education system, with its “banking” theory of pedagogy, is not well designed to educate. Instead, its primary purpose is to reproduce the class relations that suit the ruling class. Please read Paulo Freire’s own words about this, in the attached file.
Education, which should by nature liberate the student, is made by the ruling class into a means of repression, said Freire.
How can revolutionaries ensure that education ceases to reproduce oppressive landlord-dominated or bourgeois-dominated class relations, and instead starts to generate socialism and communism?
To ask such a question is to “problematise” education. To ask such a question is to begin a “dialogue” about education. Freire thought that for the political education of the oppressed, if it was not to be patronising and therefore counter-productive, by reproducing and reinforcing the features of the oppressive state, then the educational method for this revolutionary purpose would have to be different and new.
In the dialogical method that Paulo Freire devised and called the Pedagogy of the Oppressed, or otherwise Critical Pedagogy, there is no elementary, junior, senior, matriculation, undergraduate, post-graduate, doctorate or professor level. Teachers are learners and learners are teachers; yet all are free-willing “subjects”, having “agency”, capable of leadership.
As much as there may be a room and a gathering of individuals, each known by name, and a “codification” which is the text or other object for the occasion, yet the dialogue admits no limits. The Freirean gathering is not sheltered. It is one of the essentials of Freirean Pedagogy that we refuse the fiction of the sheltered classroom. Instead we recognise that the oppressor is around us and even within us, while we strive to liberate ourselves through our mutual, socialising pedagogical dialogue.
In Freirean practice, there is no such thing as a basic level, or an advanced level. All that we can do is to begin a process of “problematising”, beginning with education itself.
As a rule, the CU uses original authors, and not commentaries on their original texts. In that spirit, text attached today is the second chapter of Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”, here supplemented with a glossary of “critical pedagogy” terms (the link to the download is below). This text provides an opportunity to reflect upon what you are trying to do by learning and teaching. You may ask each other: What is political education for?
For the late Freire (pictured above), and for the Freireans of today, all education is a political act and a social act, an act of liberation and of self-liberation.
There will be one further preliminary posting. The first instalment of the course proper will be sent out on Thursday, 12 January 2012.
- This introduction only serves to introduce the original reading-text. In this case it is Chapter 2 of Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed.
- To download any of the CU courses in PDF files please click here.