“Freedom is acquired by conquest, not by gift. It must be pursued constantly and responsibly. Freedom is not an ideal located outside of man; nor is it an idea which becomes myth. It is rather the indispensable condition for the quest for human completion.” Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed
Early this morning, I was reading some posts on Facebook, when I saw a post about Paulo Freire’s birthday. I can say that he is one of my heroes in Education. I was delighted to read such a great letter that he wrote some years ago for “Teachers and Educators in Brazil”. Although some people do not agree with his words, his thougths and theories still echoing in our society.
I was wondering what would have happened if I have never met his words. Peharps, I might not be the teacher who I am today. Peharps, my critical thinking would not be so intense or I would be there doing my job and nothing else.
I met Paulo Freire a long time ago. Actually, I heard about him, believe or not, during a course in the church, to be more especific at Catholic Church in a group of study in 1991. I was preparing myself to work with a group of catholic youth. In this course, we were supposed to read some texts select by our priest from National Conference of Brazilian Bishops (CNBB) and one of the texts, it was called The virtue of the Educator. (This is in portuguese, no english version available, sorry). A small booklet in which helped us to understand what was the role of a teacher. That time, I was not interested in Paulo Freire’s words. I read and shared my opinion full of shyness, I didn’t have that time a critical view about education, in addition to “Teaching” was not my option as my future career. As the world turns, three year later, I was totally lost in a classroom. I was supposed to teach without no background and no support. That was the trigger to give up teaching.
In 1997, I was attending Greek and Latin classes at the University as part of my BA degree in Classical Language, I remember my Professor talking about our teaching practices. It was in a monastery downtown Rio de Janeiro, where we used to teach both disciplines for high school students and, we were supposed to read a book called ” Pedagogy of Oppressed” and write a report comparing our practices with his theory. It was the moment that, I understood what Paulo Freire meant about an oppressive education.
We live in a society where education is not taken seriously, where we still have many kids out of schools. Educators and teachers are not treated with respect, where politicians do not care about our educational system and our students are not taught to be critical thinkers.His words seems to be obsolete, an act of subversion and revolutionary. However, in my humble opinion, it is the words of freedom and solidarity. We can not construct learning without sharing and without practicing.
So, today it is a day to remember, a day to reflect what is our position as educators. Do not be afraid of putting his words into practices, do not betray yourself using education for business but using education as a weapon to transform the world into a better place to live and worthy to fight for.
I dedicate this short post to my hero – Paulo Freire and for those who dare to spread his words of wisdom.
These books are the cornerstone of my MA project on Inclusive Education.