A LITTLE LONG, BUT WORTH THE TIME, WHEN EDUCATION BECOMES A MINDLESS EXERCISE TO PASS A TEST AND PREPARE FOR CORPORATE JOBS. SEE TEXT IN RED.
Promise of Critical Pedagogy
Paulo Freire and Henry A. Giroux, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1981. (Photo: Henry A. Giroux)
"Few of even the so-called educators ask the question: What matters beyond the reading, writing, and numeracy that are presumably taught in the elementary and secondary grades? The old question of what a kid needs to become an informed 'citizen' capable of participating in making the large and small public decisions that affect the larger world as well as everyday life receives honorable mention but not serious consideration. These unasked questions are symptoms of a new regime of educational expectations that privileges job readiness above any other educational values."
Thus, for Freire literacy was not a means to prepare students for the world of subordinated labor or "careers," but a preparation for a self-managed life. And self-management could only occur when people have fulfilled three goals of education: self-reflection, that is, realizing the famous poetic phrase, "know thyself," which is an understanding of the world in which they live, in its economic, political and, equally important, its psychological dimensions. Specifically "critical" pedagogy helps the learner become aware of the forces that have hitherto ruled their lives and especially shaped their consciousness. The third goal is to help set the conditions for producing a new life, a new set of arrangements where power has been, at least in tendency, transferred to those who literally make the social world by transforming nature and themselves.
This video may be of interest to those interested in an introduction to critical pedagogy and a discussion of Paulo Freire's influence on Henry Giroux and his work. (Courtesy: The Paulo and Nita Freire International Project for Critical Pedagogy)
Unlike so many intellectuals I have met in academia, Paulo was always so generous, eager to publish the work of younger intellectuals, write letters of support and give as much as possible of himself in the service of others. The early eighties were exciting years in education in the US and Paulo was at the center of it. Together, we started a critical education and culture series at Bergin and Garvey and published over a hundred young authors, many of whom went on to have a significant influence in the university. Jim Bergin became Paulo's patron as his American publisher, Donaldo became his translator and a co-author and we all took our best shots in translating, publishing and distributing Paulo's work, always with the hope of inviting him back to the US so we could meet, talk, drink good wine and recharge the struggles that all marked us in different ways. Of course, it is difficult to write simply about Paulo as a person because who he was and how he entered one's space and the world could never be separated from his politics. Hence, I want to try to provide a broader context for my own understanding of him as well as those ideas that consistently shaped our relationship and his relationship with others.