Paulo Freire

Paulo Reglus Neves Freire (/ˈfrɛəri/; Portuguese: [ˈpawlu ˈfɾeiɾi] (listen); September 19, 1921 – May 2, 1997) was a Brazilian educator and philosopher who was a leading advocate of critical pedagogy. He is best known for his influential work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, which is generally considered one of the foundational texts of the critical pedagogy movement.[1][2][3]

Paulo Freire
Freire in 1977
Paulo Reglus Neves Freire

(1921-09-19)September 19, 1921
DiedMay 2, 1997(1997-05-02) (aged 75)
Alma materUniversity of Recife
  • Educator
  • author
Known forTheories of education, advocacy of critical pedagogy


Freire was born on September 19, 1921 to a middle-class family in Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil. He became familiar with poverty and hunger from an early age, during the Great Depression. In 1931, his family moved to the less expensive city of Jaboatão dos Guararapes. His father died on October 31, 1934.[4]

During his childhood and adolescence at school, Freire ended up four grades behind, and his social life revolved around playing pick-up football with other poor children, from whom he states to have learned a great deal. These experiences would shape his concerns for the poor and would help to construct his particular educational viewpoint. Freire stated that poverty and hunger severely affected his ability to learn. These experiences influenced his decision to dedicate his life to improving the lives of the poor: "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".[5] Eventually, his family's misfortunes turned around and their prospects improved.

Freire enrolled in law school at the University of Recife in 1943. He also studied philosophy, more specifically phenomenology, and the psychology of language. Although admitted to the legal bar, he never practiced law and instead worked as a secondary school Portuguese teacher. In 1944, he married Elza Maia Costa de Oliveira, a fellow teacher. The two worked together and had five children.

In 1946, Freire was appointed director of the Pernambuco Department of Education and Culture. Working primarily among the illiterate poor, Freire began to develop an educational praxis that would have an influence on the liberation theology movement of the 1970s. In 1940s Brazil, literacy was a requirement for voting in presidential elections.[6][7]

In 1961, he was appointed director of the Department of Cultural Extension at the University of Recife. In 1962, he had the first opportunity for large-scale application of his theories, when, in an experiment, 300 sugarcane harvesters were taught to read and write in just 45 days. In response to this experiment, the Brazilian government approved the creation of thousands of cultural circles across the country.

The 1964 Brazilian coup d'état put an end to Freire's literacy effort, as the ruling military junta did not endorse it. Freire was subsequently imprisoned as a traitor for 70 days. After a brief exile in Bolivia, Freire worked in Chile for five years for the Christian Democratic Agrarian Reform Movement and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. In 1967, Freire published his first book, Education as the Practice of Freedom. He followed it with his most famous work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, first published in 1968.[8]

After a positive international reception of his work, Freire was offered a visiting professorship at Harvard University in 1969. The next year, Pedagogy of the Oppressed was published in Spanish and English, vastly expanding its reach. Because of political feuds between Freire, a Christian socialist, and Brazil's successive right-wing authoritarian military governments, the book went unpublished in Brazil until 1974, when, starting with the presidency of Ernesto Geisel, the military junta started a process of slow and controlled political liberalisation.

Following a year in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Freire moved to Geneva to work as a special education advisor to the World Council of Churches. During this time Freire acted as an advisor on education reform in several former Portuguese colonies in Africa, particularly Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique.

In 1979, he first visited Brazil after more than a decade of exile, eventually moving back in 1980. Freire joined the Workers' Party (PT) in São Paulo and acted as a supervisor for its adult literacy project from 1980 to 1986. When the Workers' Party won the 1988 São Paulo mayoral elections in 1988, Freire was appointed municipal Secretary of Education.

Freire died of heart failure on May 2, 1997 in São Paulo.[9]


There is no such thing as a neutral education process. Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate the integration of generations into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity to it, or it becomes the 'practice of freedom', the means by which men and women deal critically with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.

Richard Shaull, drawing on Paulo Freire[10]

Paulo Freire contributed a philosophy of education which blended classical approaches stemming from Plato and modern Marxist, post-Marxist and anti-colonialist thinkers. His Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1968) can be read as an extension of, or reply to, Frantz Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth (1961), which emphasized the need to provide native populations with an education which was simultaneously new and modern, rather than traditional, and anti-colonial — not simply an extension of the colonizing culture.

In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freire, reprising the oppressors–oppressed distinction, applies the distinction to education, championing that education should allow the oppressed to regain their sense of humanity, in turn overcoming their condition. Nevertheless, he acknowledges that for this to occur, the oppressed individual must play a role in their liberation.

No pedagogy which is truly liberating can remain distant from the oppressed by treating them as unfortunates and by presenting for their emulation models from among the oppressors. The oppressed must be their own example in the struggle for their redemption.[11]

Likewise, oppressors must be willing to rethink their way of life and to examine their own role in oppression if true liberation is to occur: "those who authentically commit themselves to the people must re-examine themselves constantly".[12]

Freire believed education could not be divorced from politics; the act of teaching and learning are considered political acts in and of themselves. Freire defined this connection as a main tenet of critical pedagogy. Teachers and students must be made aware of the politics that surround education. The way students are taught and what they are taught serves a political agenda. Teachers, themselves, have political notions they bring into the classroom.[13]

Freire believed that "education makes sense because women and men learn that through learning they can make and remake themselves, because women and men are able to take responsibility for themselves as beings capable of knowing—of knowing that they know and knowing that they don't".[14]

Criticism of the "banking model" of education

In terms of pedagogy, Freire is best known for his attack on what he called the "banking" concept of education, in which students are viewed as empty accounts to be filled by teachers. He notes that "it transforms students into receiving objects [and] attempts to control thinking and action, lead[ing] men and women to adjust to the world, inhibit[ing] their creative power."[15] The basic critique was not entirely novel, and paralleled Rousseau's conception of children as active learners, as opposed to a tabula rasa view, more akin to the banking model. John Dewey was also strongly critical of the transmission of mere facts as the goal of education. Dewey often described education as a mechanism for social change, stating that "education is a regulation of the process of coming to share in the social consciousness; and that the adjustment of individual activity on the basis of this social consciousness is the only sure method of social reconstruction".[16] Freire's work revived this view and placed it in context with contemporary theories and practices of education, laying the foundation for what would later be termed critical pedagogy.

Culture of silence

According to Freire, unequal social relations create a 'culture of silence' that instill a negative, passive and suppressed self-image onto the oppressed, and learners must, then, develop a critical consciousness in order to recognize that this culture of silence is created to oppress.[17] A culture of silence can also cause the "dominated individuals [to] lose the means by which to critically respond to the culture that is forced on them by a dominant culture."[18]

He considers social, race and class dynamics to be interlaced into the conventional education system, through which this culture of silence eliminates the "paths of thought that lead to a language of critique."[19]

Legacy and impact

Since the publication of the English edition in 1970, Pedagogy of the Oppressed has had a large impact in education and pedagogy worldwide,[20][21][22] especially as a defining work of critical pedagogy. According to Israeli writer and education reform theorist Sol Stern, it has "achieved near-iconic status in America's teacher-training programs".[23] Connections have also been made between Freire's non-dualism theory in pedagogy and Eastern philosophical traditions such as the Advaita Vedanta.[24]

In 1977, the Adult Learning Project, based on Freire's work, was established in Edinburgh, Scotland in the Gorgie-Dalry neighbourhood.[25] This project had the participation of approximately 200 people in the first years, and had among its aims to provide affordable and relevant local learning opportunities and to build a network of local tutors.[25] In Scotland, Freire's ideas of popular education influenced activist movements[26] not only in Edinburgh but also in Glasgow.[27]

Freire's major exponents in North America are Henry Giroux, Peter McLaren, Donaldo Macedo, Antonia Darder, Joe L. Kincheloe, Carlos Alberto Torres, Ira Shor, and Shirley R. Steinberg. One of McLaren's edited texts, Paulo Freire: A Critical Encounter, expounds upon Freire's impact in the field of critical pedagogy. McLaren has also provided a comparative study concerning Paulo Freire and Argentinian revolutionary icon Che Guevara. Freire's work influenced the radical math movement in the United States, which emphasizes social justice issues and critical pedagogy as components of mathematical curricula.[28]

In South Africa, Freire's ideas and methods were central to the 1970s Black Consciousness Movement, often associated with Steve Biko,[29][30] as well as the trade union movement in the 1970s and 1980s, and the United Democratic Front in the 1980s.[31] There is a Paulo Freire Project at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Pietermaritzburg.[32]

In 1991, the Paulo Freire Institute was established in São Paulo to extend and elaborate upon his theories of popular education. The institute has started projects in many countries and is headquartered at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, where it actively maintains the Freire archives. Its director is UCLA professor Carlos Torres, the author of several Freirean works, including the 1978 A praxis educativa de Paulo Freire.

In 1999 PAULO, a national training organisation named in honour of Freire, was established in the United Kingdom. This agency was approved by the New Labour Government to represent some 300,000 community-based education practitioners working across the UK. PAULO was given formal responsibility for setting the occupational training standards for people working in this field.

The Paulo and Nita Freire Project for International Critical Pedagogy was founded at McGill University. Here Joe L. Kincheloe and Shirley R. Steinberg worked to create a dialogical forum for critical scholars around the world to promote research and re-create a Freirean pedagogy in a multinational domain. After the death of Kincheloe the project was transformed into a virtual global resource.

In 2012, a group of educators in Western Massachusetts, United States received permission to name a public school after Freire. The Holyoke, Massachusetts Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School opened in September 2013.[33]

Shortly before his death, Freire was working on a book of ecopedagogy, a platform of work carried on by many of the Freire Institutes and Freirean Associations around the world today. It has been influential in helping to develop planetary education projects such as the Earth Charter as well as countless international grassroots campaigns in the spirit of Freirean popular education generally.

Freirean literacy methods have been adopted throughout the developing world. In the Philippines, Catholic "basal Christian communities" adopted Freire's methods in community education. Papua New Guinea, Freirean literacy methods were used as part of the World Bank funded Southern Highlands Rural Development Program's Literacy Campaign. Freirean approaches also lie at the heart of the "Dragon Dreaming" approach to community programs that have spread to 20 countries by 2014.

Awards and honors

  • King Baudouin International Development Prize 1980: Paulo Freire was the first person to receive this prize. He was nominated by Dr. Mathew Zachariah, Professor of Education at the University of Calgary.
  • Prize for Outstanding Christian Educators with his wife Elza
  • UNESCO Prize for Peace Education 1986
  • Honorary Doctorate, the University of Nebraska at Omaha, 1996, along with Augusto Boal, during their residency at the Second Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference in Omaha.
  • An independent public charter high school in Holyoke, Massachusetts is named after Freire. Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School won state approval on 28 February 2012 and was scheduled to open in the fall of 2012.[34]
  • Honorary Degree from Claremont Graduate University, 1992
  • Honorary Doctorate from The Open University, 1973
  • Inducted, International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame, 2008[35]
  • Honorary Degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago, 1993.[36]


Freire wrote and co-wrote over 20 books on education, pedagogy and related themes.[37]

Some of his works include:

  • Freire, P. (1970a). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York, Continuum.
  • Freire, P. (1970b). Cultural action for freedom. [Cambridge], Harvard Educational Review.
  • Freire, P. (1973). Education for critical consciousness. New York, Seabury Press.
  • Freire, P. (1975). Conscientization. Geneva, World Council of Churches.
  • Freire, P. (1976). Education, the practice of freedom. London, Writers and Readers Publishing Cooperative.
  • Freire, P. (1978). Pedagogy in Process: The letters to Guinea-Bissau. New York, A Continuum Book: The Seabury Press.
  • Freire, P. (1985). The politics of education: culture, power, and liberation. South Hadley, Mass., Bergin & Garvey.
  • Freire, P. and D.P. Macedo (1987). Literacy: reading the word & the world. South Hadley, Mass., Bergin & Garvey Publishers.
  • Freire, P. and I. Shor (1987). Freire for the classroom: a sourcebook for liberators teaching.
  • Freire, P. and H. Giroux & P. McLaren (1988). Teachers as intellectuals: towards a critical pedagogy of learning.
  • Freire, P. and I. Shor (1988). Cultural wars: School and society in the conservative restoration 1969–1984.
  • Freire, P. (1993). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York, Continuum.
  • Freire, P. (1993). Pedagogy of the city. New York, Continuum.
  • Faundez, Antonion, and Paulo Freire (1992). Learning to Question: A Pedagogy of Liberation. Trans. Tony Coates, New York, Continuum.
  • Freire, P. and A.M.A. Freire (1994). Pedagogy of Hope: Reliving Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York, Continuum.
  • Freire, P. (1997). Mentoring the mentor : a critical dialogue with Paulo Freire. New York, P. Lang.
  • Freire, P. and A.M.A. Freire (1997). Pedagogy of the heart. New York, Continuum.
  • Freire, P. (1998). Pedagogy of freedom: ethics, democracy and civic courage. Lanham, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
  • Freire, P. (1998). Politics and education. Los Angeles, UCLA Latin American Center Publications.
  • Freire, P. (1998). Teachers as cultural workers: letters to those who dare teach. Boulder, Colo., Westview Press.

See also


  1. "The New Observer" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-09-16. Retrieved 2012-11-12.
  2. Sima Barmania (2011-10-26). "Why Paulo Freire's "Pedagogy of the Oppressed" is just as relevant today as ever". Archived from the original on 2012-04-30. Retrieved 2012-11-12.
  3. "Paulo Freire and informal education". 2012-05-29. Retrieved 2012-11-12.
  4. Freire, P. (1996). Letters to Cristina: reflections on my life and work. New York, NY: Routledge
  5. Stevens
  6. Bethell, Leslie. "Politics in Brazil: From elections without democracy to democracy without citizenship". Daedalus. Boston: Spring 2000, Vol. 129, Issue 2; pg. 1-27.
  7. "The Great Leap Forward: The Political Economy of Education in Brazil, 1889-1930". HBS Working Knowledge. 2010-04-29. Retrieved 2018-04-06.
  8. Freire, Paulo (1993). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. The Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0826412768.
  9. Pace, Eric (1997-05-06). "Paulo Freire, 75, Is Dead; Educator of the Poor in Brazil". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-04-06.
  10. Gramsci, Freire, and Adult Education: Possibilities for Transformative Action, by Peter Mayo, Macmillan, 1999, ISBN 1-85649-614-7, pg 5
  11. Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum. p. 54
  12. Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum. p. 60
  13. Kincheloe, J.L. (2008). Critical Pedagogy Primer, 2nd Ed. New York: Peter Lang.
  14. Freire, P. (2004). Pedagogy of Indignation. Boulder: Colorado, Paradigm. p. 15
  15. Freire, 1970a, p. 77
  16. Dewey, J. (1897). My Pedagogic Creed p. 16
  17. "Marxist education:Education by Freire". Retrieved 2012-11-12.
  18. "Paulo Freire". Archived from the original on 2013-03-26. Retrieved 2012-11-12.
  19. (Giroux, 2001, p. 80) (A Presentation by) John Cortez Fordham University. "Culture, Power and Transformation in the Work of Paulo Freire by Henry A. Giroux" (PDF).
  20. McKenna, Brian (December 2013). "Paulo Freire's blunt challenge to anthropology: Create a Pedagogy of the Oppressed for Your Times". Critique of Anthropology. 33 (4): 447–475. doi:10.1177/0308275X13499383. ISSN 0308-275X.
  21. Salas, Maria del Mar Ramis (2018-10-23). "Contributions of Freire's Theory to Dialogic Education". Social and Education History. 7 (3): 277–299. doi:10.17583/hse.2018.3749. ISSN 2014-3567.
  22. "Vol 9 No 3 (2018): Special Anniversary Issue: Pedagogy of the Oppressed | Concept". Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  23. Stern, Sol (2015-12-23). "Pedagogy of the Oppressor". City Journal. Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  24. Bharath Sriraman, ""On the Origins of Social Justice: Darwin, Freire, Marx and Vivekananda" Archived 2012-03-30 at the Wayback Machine, The Mathematics Enthusiast, Monograph 1, 2007
  25. Kirkwood, Gerri. (2011). Living adult education : Freire in Scotland. Kirkwood, Colin. (2nd ed.). Rotterdam: SensePublishers. ISBN 9789460915529. OCLC 765959166.
  26. Kane, Liam (July 2010). "Community development: learning from popular education in Latin America". Community Development Journal. 45 (3): 276–286. doi:10.1093/cdj/bsq021. ISSN 1468-2656.
  27. "Paulo Freire". HeraldScotland. Retrieved 2019-06-20.
  28. "Radical Math".
  29. "Anne Hope – a woman of substance in anti-apartheid movement | Cape Times".
  30. Liberation and Development: Black Consciousness Community Programs in South Africa, Leslie Anne Hadfield,2016
  31. Art of listening is at heart of true democracy, Richard Pithouse, Mail & Guardian, 4 August 2017
  32. "Paulo Freire Project".
  33. "State approves four new charter schools". The Boston Globe.
  34. Hampshire Gazette
  35. "International Adult Continuing Education Hall of Fame". Archived from the original on 2015-03-06. Retrieved 2015-03-03.
  36. "Honorary Degrees | Commencement | University of Illinois at Chicago".
  37. "bibliography « Pedagogy of the Oppressed". Archived from the original on 2012-09-28. Retrieved 2012-11-12.


Further reading

  • Coben, Diana (1998), Radical heroes. Gramsci, Freire and the Politics of Adult Education, New York: Garland Press.
  • Darder, Antonia (2002), Reinventing Paulo Freire: A Pedagogy of Love, Boulder: Westview.
  • Darder, Antonia (2015), Freire & Education, New York: Routledge.
  • Darder, Antonia (2017), Reinventing Paulo Freire: A Pedagogy of Love (2nd edition), New York: Routledge.
  • Elias, John (1994), Paulo Freire: Pedagogue of Liberation, Florida: Krieger.
  • Ernest, Paul; Greer, Brian; Sriraman,Bharath(eds.), "Critical Issues in Mathematics Education", The Mathematics Enthusiast: Monograph Series in Mathematics Education, Information Age Publishing; Charolotte, NC, ISBN 978-1-60752-039-9
  • Freire, Nita. Vittoria, Paolo "Dialogue on Paulo Freire". Interamerican Journal of Education for Democracy.Vol. 1. no. 1 RIED-IJED, 2007.
  • Freire, Paulo (1997) "Mentoring the mentor: a critical dialogue with Paulo Freire", Counterpoints: Studies in the Postmodern Theory of Education, Vol 60, 1997, ISBN 0-8204-3798-0
  • Gadotti, Moacir (1994), Reading Paulo Freire. His Life and Work, Albany: SUNY Press.
  • Gibson, Rich (2004), "The Promethean Literacy." Unpublished dissertation online.
  • Gottesman, Isaac (2016), The Critical Turn in Education: From Marxist Critique to Poststructuralist Feminism to Critical Theories of Race, New York: Routledge.
  • Kirkendall, Andrew J (2014) Paulo Freire and the Cold War Politics of Literacy, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-1-4696-2224-8
  • McLaren, Peter (2000) Che Guevara, Paulo Freire and the Pedagogy of Revolution, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • McLaren, Peter and Leonard, Peter (eds.) (1993), Paulo Freire: A Critical Encounter, London and New York: Routledge.
  • McLaren, Peter and Lankshear, Colin (eds.) (1994), Politics of Liberation. Paths from Freire, London and New York: Routledge.
  • Mayo, Peter (1999), Gramsci, Freire and Adult Education. Possibilities for Transformative Action, London and New York: Zed Books.
  • Mayo, Peter (2004, 2008), Liberating Praxis. Paulo Freire's Legacy for Radical Education and Politics, Westport, Connecticut: Praeger; Rotterdam and Taipei: Sense.
  • Morrow, Raymond A. and Torres, Carlos .A. (2002), Reading Freire and Habermas. Critical pedagogy and Transformative Social Change, New York and London: Teachers College Press.
  • O'Cadiz, Maria del Pilar, Wong, Pia L. and Torres, Carlos A. (1997), Education and Democracy. Paulo Freire, Social Movements and Educational Reform in São Paulo, Boulder: Westview Press.
  • Roberts, Peter (2000), Education, Literacy, and Humanization Exploring the Work of Paulo Freire, Westport, Connecticut: Bergin & Garvey.
  • Rossatto, Cesar A. (2005), Engaging Paulo Freire's Pedagogy Of Possibility: From Blind To Transformative Optimism, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Schugurensky, Daniel (2011). Paulo Freire. London: Continuum.
  • Sriraman, Bharath (2007), On the origins of social justice: Darwin, Freire, Marx and Vivekananda, The Montana Mathematics Enthusiast, Monograph 1, pp. 1–6, University of Montana Press.
  • Taylor, Paul V. (1993), The Texts of Paulo Freire, Buckingham: Open University Press.
  • Torres, Carlos A and Noguera, Pedro (eds.) (2008), Social Justice Education For Teachers. Paulo Freire and the Possible Dream, Rotterdam and Taipei: Sense.
  • Torres, Carlos A (2014). First Freire: Early writings in Social Justice Education. New York: Teachers College.
  • Vittoria, Paolo (2016), "Narrating Paulo Freire. Toward a pedagogy of dialogue". London: IEPS publisher.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.