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Radical Imagine-Nation

Public Pedagogy & Praxis


Edited By Peter McLaren and Suzanne SooHoo

This collection of essays, poems, and reflections by scholars, public intellectuals, artists, and community activists (as well as those whose work intersects with all of these categories) constitutes a landmark achievement in critical pedagogy and social justice education. Edited by two leaders whose work spans both academic and grassroots communities, Radical Imagine-Nation was conceived during a time of political turmoil both nationally and internationally, a time when freedom and democracy seemed out of reach for millions around the world.

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Chapter Three: Critical Pedagogy, Leadership and Institutional Reform: Paulo Freire’s “Formative Time” at the Social Services of Industry (Tricia M. Kress)


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Critical Pedagogy, Leadership AND Institutional Reform

Paulo Freire’s “Formative Time” at the Social Services of Industry


While a number of authors cite Paulo Freire in their scholarship about leadership (e.g., Miller, Brown, & Hopson, 2011; Shields, 2004; Watkins, 2012; Weiner, 2003), and some works claim to learn lessons about leadership from Paulo Freire (e.g., Kaak, 2011), to date, there is very little leadership literature that discusses Paulo Freire’s actual views on educational leadership and his practice as an educational leader at the Social Services of Industry (SESI) in Recife. Yet, much of Paulo Freire’s career was spent as an educational administrator, and in Freire’s words, it was his time as an administrator at SESI, “because of its contradictions that I began to learn that the classes exist in a contradictory relationship. I learned that they have conflicts of interest that are permeated by antagonistic ideologies” (1996, p. 83). Indeed, this is the time period that he identifies as the catalyst for gestating his philosophy of transformative, democratic education (Freire, 1994). This position also later afforded him the opportunity to conduct his famous literacy experiments.1

After practicing his pedagogy and further refining his philosophy in various different locales over the course of nearly 40 years, these formative years at SESI were foundational to Freire’s implementation of numerous education reforms including large-scale, systemic school reform during his time as Secretary of Education...

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