There is no neutral education process. Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate the integration of generations into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity to it, or it becomes the ‘practice of freedom’, the means by which men and women deal critically with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world. Paulo Freire in: ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’.
Among the richness of concepts and ideas of Paulo Freire, one has called my attention this week: Education is never neutral nor impartial — it will be used or to foster conformity or to promote freedom.
It is either domesticating or liberating. In its domesticating form, the banking approach is used and it is based on cultural invasion. In the liberating form, educators who are committed to liberating people will work to provide opportunities for students to value their experience, history and culture in curious, creative and questioning ways, creating / restoring confidence and giving them voice (great explanation found in Margaret Lewitt’s book).
Education is always directive in its attempt to teach students to inhabit a particular mode of agency, enable them to “understand the larger world and one’s role in it in a specific way, define their relationship, if not responsibility, to diverse others, and experience some sort of understanding of a more just, imaginative, and democratic life” (as stated by Henri Giroux on his article on Paulo Freire’s ideas).
Therefore, as a practice for freedom, Education must expand the capacities necessary for human agency. In the words of José Eustáquio Romão (here), the core of Freire’s thought is exactly the dissatisfaction that drives human beings to “be more.”
Consciousness plays an important role, since the Education that liberates the individual must be a conscious act — being aware of the implications of our choices regarding our discourse and our practices on Education; understanding and analyzing the context in which the learning is taking place and the individuals and groups concerned; and finally, creating ways to transcend the dichotomy that exists between teacher and student.
As teachers, we have the choice to invest in foster conformity or freedom. How could we transform our practices and infusing them with consciousness and promotes agency in both students an teachers?
You may want to check it out a very interesting board on Pinterest about Critical Pedagogy, with some works of Paulo Freire and also from Henri Giroux.