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Education and the Crisis of Public Values

Challenging the Assault on Teachers, Students, and Public Education – Second edition

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Henry A. Giroux

Updated with both a new introduction and a series of interviews, the second edition of Education and the Crisis of Public Values examines American society’s shift away from democratic public values, the ensuing move toward a market-driven mode of education, and the last decade’s growing social disinvestment in youth. The book discusses the number of ways that the ideal of public education as a democratic public sphere has been under siege, including full-fledged attacks by corporate interests on public school teachers, schools of education, and teacher unions. It also reveals how a business culture cloaked in the guise of generosity and reform has supported a charter school movement that aims to dismantle public schools in favor of a corporate-friendly privatized system. The book encourages educators to become public intellectuals, willing to engage in creating a formative culture of learning that can nurture the ability to defend public and higher education as a general good – one crucial to sustaining a critical citizenry and a democratic society.
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8. Paulo Freire and the Pedagogy of Bearing Witness

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At a time when public memory is being erased and the social relevance of education is forgotten in favor of a language of measurement and quantification, it is all the more important to remember the legacy and work of Paulo Freire. Freire is one of the most important educators of the twentieth century and is considered one of the most significant theorists of “critical pedagogy”—the educational movement guided by both passion and principle to help students develop a consciousness of freedom, recognize authoritarian tendencies, empower the imagination, connect knowledge and truth to power, and learn how to read both the word and the world as part of a broader struggle for agency, justice, and democracy. Freire’s groundbreaking book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, has sold more than a million copies and is deservedly being commemorated this year—the 40th anniversary of its appearance in English translation—after having exerted its influence over generations of teachers and intellectuals in the Americas and abroad.

In recent times, there have been too few intellectuals on the North American educational scene who have matched Freire’s theoretical rigor, civic courage, and sense of moral responsibility. And his example is more important now than ever before. With institutions of public and higher education increasingly under siege by a host of neoliberal and conservative forces, it is imperative for educators to acknowledge Freire’s understanding of the empowering and democratic potential of education. Critical pedagogy currently offers the ← 116 | 117 → very best, perhaps the...

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