Challenging the Assault on Teachers, Students, and Public Education – Second edition
8. Paulo Freire and the Pedagogy of Bearing Witness
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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