The Ideas of Paulo Freire

Topics: Education, Oppression, Intersectionality Pages: 8 (2110 words) Published: October 5, 2014
Professor Steve Miller
Political Theory 130
8 April 2014
Rejuvenating America: How Freirean Principles Can Revolutionize The U.S
“Dialogue is the encounter between men, mediated by the world, in order to name the world. ” (Freire 88). At first it may be hard to relate this definition/principle to American politics and American society today, but with some critical thinking and research into the current issues in America, relevance becomes abundant. This is the case for many of Paulo Freire’s principles, which may seem idealistic at times (and perhaps this is what makes a correlation between his theories/ideas and American issue hard to find). The three major principles of Freire’s that posses the most relevance are “dialogue,” the oppressor-oppressed relationship, and the “problem-posing education.” Freire’s “dialogue” principle is useful in arguing for citizens to produce a better voter turnout, his ideas about the oppressors and oppressed relationship are applicable to an argument against expanding welfare and universal health care, and perhaps his most famous idea, “problem posing education”, can be used as a base of a new education system in the United States that is capable of leading to increased economic mobility, and smaller racial disparities.

To understand Paulo Freire’s “dialogue” concept, it is important to first understand the difference between the way he is defining dialogue, the definition we usually assign to the word, and the dictionary definition. The definition that is usually associated with dialogue, and the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of dialogue is “a conversation between two or more people.” This denotation does not divulge what Freire means by dialogue; his connotation of the word is much deeper. Freire explicitly tells us his meaning of the word dialogue is “the encounter between men, mediated by the world, in order to name the world” (Freire 88). He elaborates on his concept with six features of dialogue: love for the world, humility (i.e. arrogance has no place in dialogue), faith in humanity, trust between the dialoguers, hope, and critical thinking. The dialogue concept is an important idea of Freire’s by its lonesome, but it is also a key portion of his “problem-posing education.” He highlights this importance of dialogue to education when he says, “With out dialogue there is no communication, and without communication there can be no true education.” (Freire 93). While the concept is quite complex, essentially Freire believes that dialogue is the basis for education, as well as a healthy society, and government-citizen relationship.

Freire provides a simple template for an oppressor-oppressed relationship in chapter one, he says “Any situation in which ‘A’ objectively exploits ‘B’ or hinders his or her pursuit of self-affirmation as a responsible person is one of oppression,” (Freire 55) and “One of the basic elements of the relationship between oppressor and oppressed is prescription. Every prescription represents the imposition of one individual’s choice upon another, transforming the consciousness of the person prescribed into one that conforms with the prescriber’s consciousness. Thus, the behavior of the oppressed is a prescribed behavior, following as it does the guidelines of the oppressor.” (Freire 46). From these two quotes we have gained the ability to identify an oppressor-oppressed relationship when the oppression may be subtle. The oppressors are the exploiters, and the prescribers. Freire ties dialogue into this relationship as well. The lack of dialogue can be used as a tool of oppression, or, as it would seem, may cause of an oppressor-oppressed relationship without the intent to do so.

Perhaps the most important principle of Paulo Freire’s is “problem posing education.” To comprehend problem-posing education it is important to understand that this concept is the solution to a problem with many education systems that Freire believes to exist. This...
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