Paulo Freire

About Paulo Freire

Transformational educator, pedagogical thinker and radical practitioner

Who was Paulo Freire?

Paulo Freire’s work has influenced people working in education, community development, community health and many other fields. Freire developed an approach to education that links the identification of issues to positive action for change and development. While Freire’s original work was in adult literacy, his approach leads us to think about how we can ‘read’ the society around us.
For Freire, the educational process is never neutral. People can be passive recipients of knowledge — whatever the content — or they can engage in a ‘problem-posing’ approach in which they become active participants. As part of this approach, it is essential that people link knowledge to action so that they actively work to change their societies at a local level and beyond.

In the video above, Freire talks about the importance of curiosity, of critical thinking and ultimately of hope. It is a profound reflection on learning.

Many of Freire’s writings are available in English. The most well known of these, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1972) has been very influential but new readers of Freire may find The Politics of Education (1985) a more accessible text. Key concepts associated with Freire include the contrast between "banking" education (in which facts are deposited into the minds of passive students) and problem-posing education; the notion of conscientization (which is much more than simply awareness-raising); and the idea of the "culture of silence", in which people are unable to reflect critically upon their world - they become fatalistic and dominated.

A typical feature of Freire-type education is that people bring their own knowledge and experience into the process. Training is typically undertaken in small groups with lively interaction and can embrace not only the written word but art, music and other forms of expression.
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