• Paulo Freire - Wikipedia
  • John Ohliger: Critical views of Paulo Freire's work
  • Colleges as Agents of Change -- The Public Work …

– a wide range of material available about current work in the Freirian tradition. Click for the English version.

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Sigmund Freud is often referred to as the father of psychology

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Second, Paulo Freire tends to argue in an either/or way. We are either with the oppressed or against them. This may be an interesting starting point for teaching, but taken too literally it can make for rather simplistic (political) analysis.

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Freudian literary analysis comes in various degrees of subtlety. At its most elementary, the novel or poem may be analyzed simply in terms of phallic symbols: the assertive male organ or receptive female organ.
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Fifth, there are problems regarding Freire’s model of literacy. While it may be taken as a challenge to the political projects of northern states, his analysis remains rooted in assumptions about cognitive development and the relation of literacy to rationality that are suspect (Street 1983: 14). His work has not ‘entirely shrugged off the assumptions of the “autonomous model”‘ (ibid.: 14).


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The three basic components of a Freudian analysis consists of the id, ego, and superego. The id is the irrational, unconcious part of the mind. It consists of one's deepest and darkest desires.
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Third, there is an tendency in Freire to overturn everyday situations so that they become pedagogical. Paulo Freire’s approach was largely constructed around structured educational situations. While his initial point of reference might be , the educational he explores remain formal (Torres 1993: 127) In other words, his approach is still and entail transforming settings into a particular type of pedagogical space. This can rather work against the notion of dialogue (in that curriculum implies a predefined set of concerns and activities). Educators need to look for ‘teachable moments’ – but when we concentrate on this we can easily overlook simple power of being in conversation with others.

An analysis of the concept of experiential learning indicates that it is the product of reflection upon experience, with the nature of the reflection and the quality of the experience, being significant to the overall learning.
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Paulo Freire (1921 – 1997), the Brazilian educationalist, has left a significant mark on thinking about progressive practice. His Pedagogy of the Oppressed is currently one of the most quoted educational texts (especially in Latin America, Africa and Asia). Freire was able to draw upon, and weave together, a number of strands of thinking about educational practice and liberation. Sometimes some rather excessive claims are made for his work e.g. ‘the most significant educational thinker of the twentieth century’. He wasn’t – would probably take that honour – but Freire certainly made a number of important theoretical innovations that have had a considerable impact on the development of educational practice – and on and in particular. In this piece we assess these – and briefly examine some of the critiques that can be made of his work.

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Five aspects of Paulo Freire’s work have a particular significance for our purposes here. First, his emphasis on has struck a very strong chord with those concerned with popular and informal education. Given that informal education is a dialogical (or conversational) rather than a form this is hardly surprising. However, Paulo Freire was able to take the discussion on several steps with his insistence that dialogue involves respect. It should not involve one person acting on another, but rather people each other. Too much education, Paulo Freire argues, involves ‘banking’ – the educator making ‘deposits’ in the educatee.

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Second, Paulo Freire was concerned with – action that is informed (and linked to certain values). Dialogue wasn’t just about deepening understanding – but was part of making a difference in the world. Dialogue in itself is a co-operative activity involving respect. The process is important and can be seen as enhancing and building and to leading us to act in ways that make for justice and human flourishing. Informal and popular educators have had a long-standing orientation to action – so the emphasis on change in the world was welcome. But there was a sting in the tail. Paulo Freire argued for informed action and as such provided a useful counter-balance to those who want to diminish theory.

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Fourth, Paulo Freire’s insistence on situating educational activity in the lived of participants has opened up a series of possibilities for the way informal educators can approach practice. His concern to look for words that have the possibility of generating new ways of naming and acting in the world when working with people around literacies is a good example of this.