Posts Tagged ‘popular education’
Paulo Freire is one of the most important critical educators of the 20th century. Not only is he considered one of the founders of critical pedagogy, but he also played a crucial role in developing a highly successful literacy campaign in Brazil before the onslaught of the junta in 1964. Once the military took over the government, Freire was imprisoned for a short time for his efforts. He eventually was released and went into exile, primarily in Chile and later in Geneva, Switzerland, for a number of years. Once a semblance of democracy returned to Brazil, he went back to his country in 1980 and played a significant role in shaping its educational policies until his untimely death in 1997. His book, “Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” is considered one of the classic texts of critical pedagogy, and has sold over a million copies, influencing generations of teachers and intellectuals both in the United States and abroad. Since the 1980s, there has been no intellectual on the North American educational scene who has matched either his theoretical rigor or his moral courage. Most schools and colleges of education are now dominated by conservative ideologies, hooked on methods, slavishly wedded to instrumentalized accountability measures and run by administrators who lack either a broader vision or critical understanding of education as a force for strengthening the imagination and expanding democratic public life.
A very long distance lies between the State of Bengal, India and Denmark. Similarly, Brazil and India are separated by two oceans and the African continent. Accordingly, it seems a daring enterprise to embark upon a project which aims to establish a dialogue between educationists from India, Denmark and Brazil, not least in light of the fact that any effectual educational theory is developed and has to be framed within a specific context. This contextuality is valid for all four educational thinkers who are discussed in this collection of essays, Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi from India, Nikolaj Frederik Severin Grundtvig from Denmark and Paulo Freire from Brazil.
Moreover, the four educationists belong to different historical periods. Grundtvig lived in the milieu of early nineteenth century Denmark, whereas Tagore and Gandhi for the greater part of their adult years lived in the first part of the twentieth century and Paulo Freire in the second part of the same century. Accordingly, it seems risky if not even far-fetched to analyze all of them from a consistent perspective. At first sight it might appear as more appropriate to present the argument that differences between them account for more than similarities.
A brilliant and comprehensive analysis of Freire’s work, as can be found in this book, certainly ﬁtted a series that attempted to address and demonstrate how scholars, working in the ﬁelds of cultural studies and critical pedagogy, might join together in a radical project and practice informed by theoretically rigorous discourses that afﬁrm the critical but refuse the cynical, and establish hope as central to a critical pedagogical and political practice but eschew a romantic utopianism. Central to such a project is the issue of how pedagogy might provide cultural studies theorists and educators with an opportunity to engage pedagogical practices that are not only trans-disciplinary, transgressive, and oppositional, but also connected to a wider project designed to further racial, economic, and political democracy. By taking seriously the relations between culture and power, works such as this book, which deals with not only a critical exposition of Freire’s work but also the task of reinventing Freire’s concepts in diverse international contexts and learning settings (involving parents’ circles, workers’ education institutions, community learning centres and museums), further the possibilities of resistance, struggle, and change.
In this book, I describe an approach to critical education that was developed through my work with adults. I call it revolutionary critical education. It is an approach that aims to prepare people to engage in self and social transformation, and it also is an approach that could become the norm in a socially and economically transformed society. In those future conditions, adult revolutionary critical education would take the lead in the educational development of individuals such that critical education for younger people would aim to develop the social, intellectual and moral-ethical abilities that would prepare them for their future engagement in revolutionary critical adult education activities. As a consequence, education throughout life would be continually fostering the abilities of citizens who would be constantly engaged in democratically creating and recreating their society at every level. This may sound utopian, but I think it is a feasible utopia, which revolutionary critical educators should be striving to make a reality.