Today In Fact, 19 September

A remarkable man was born today in Brazil in 1921. Paulo Frere the father of popular education grew up in the Brazilian city of Recife and dedicated his life to working with the poor.

In his youth Frere suffered extremes of poverty and he recalled that “I didn’t understand anything because of my hunger. I wasn’t dumb. It wasn’t lack of interest. My social condition didn’t allow me to have an education. Experience showed me once again the relationship between social class and knowledge”

His major contribution was the writing of a powerful book: The “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”. It is as valid today as it was when it was written. In it Frere argues that no education is value free or neutral. All education either serves to oppress or serves to liberate.

Frere argues that the “banking” model of education transforms learners into passive receptacles for knowledge, controlling thinking and citizen agency. The pedagogy of the oppressed recommends an approach to learning that encourages a learning process of action and reflection, which supports active citizenship and community organizing around identified issues.

Popular education was one of the core tools we used in the anti-apartheid struggle and within the United Democratic Front. I was privileged to convene the popular education colloquium in 2008 which restarted the movement here in South Africa.

Happy Birthday Paulo Frere!

– Posted by Douglas Racionzer (