Dialogue, Knowledge, and Teacher-Student Relations – Freirean Pedagogy in Theory and Practice

In this article, I draw on ethnographic fieldwork among popular adult education non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Brazil to show how popular educators interpreted and acted based on Freirean pedagogical theory in ways that appeared to reduce its potential for social change. I pay particular attention to three complicated issues that continue to trouble popular or critical educators everywhere: understanding the meaning of dialogue, transforming traditional teacher-student relations, and incorporating local knowledge into the classroom.

In what follows, I first outline some of the basic tenets of Freire’s philosophy. I then discuss the setting of this study, the history of popular education in that region, and the methods by which I collected the data for this study. In the core of the article, I use ethnographic data to show how Brazilian adult educators understood and employed Freirean pedagogical theory. I then discuss what these findings teach us about critical literacy and critical pedagogy.



About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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