The Global Legacy
Chapter Four: Paulo Freire and the Idea of Openness
Paulo Freire and the Idea of Openness
There has been a flurry of pronouncements over recent years about new forms of openness in scholarly and pedagogical activity. Reference has been made to open education, open learning, open knowledge, open technology, open content, open source, open access, and open courseware (Iiyoshi & Kumar, 2008). In surveying some of this work, it sometimes appears as if such initiatives have come from nowhere, with a history no older than a decade or two and no discernible epistemological or ethical roots. Openness is often viewed merely as an unfolding reality: an outcome of new social practices and modes of cultural life in the digital age. Attention also needs to be paid, however, to the philosophical heritage of discourses on openness and to some of the conceptual contours of openness as an ideal.
This chapter considers what it might mean to talk of openness as an educational virtue. Drawing principally on the work of Paulo Freire but with prior reference to Aristotle and a range of other thinkers, I set out to show that openness has ontological, epistemological, and ethical dimensions. Openness has application in multiple areas of educational life and can serve as a principle for both lifelong learning and social organization. The optimal pursuit of openness in pedagogical settings, I shall argue, requires the presence of other virtues and can be contrasted with various forms of closure, including dogmatism, excessive certainty,...