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Paulo Freire Education as dialogue Paulo Freire was resident professor of education at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil and visiting professor at USA Harvard’s Center for Studies in Education and Development. In the 1960s he created a new Educational Method of Dialogue among the poor farmers of northern Brazil. They were trapped, he said, in a ‘culture of silence’ - submerged in an economic & social situation where critical awareness and response were practically impossible. Freire’s educational revolution profoundly affected not only those farmers, but the lives of millions of people in all the Americas. An English translation of his works in 1972 extended that influence to Britain and so to the book, Learning Relations. Looking back from the 1980s, Freire summed up his method in the following terms: ‘Through dialogue, reflecting together on what we know and don’t know, we can act critically to transform reality.’ ‘Reality’,Freire insists, ‘is really a process, undergoing constant transformation.’ Human knowledge, therefore, is always incomplete. Teaching, in this view cannot be a matter of ‘Banking’. Whether working with children or adults, the teacher should never be: a ‘well-intentioned bank clerk’ storing nuggets of finished information in the pupil’s mind. Instead, the work of both teacher and taught is a search for an ever clearer expression of truth. ‘Searching,’ Freire says,’is indispensable to the act of knowing.’ Education is dynamically developed when parents and professionals carry out this search in partnership. ‘Knowledge emerges,’ according to Freire, ‘through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry people pursue.’ Such interaction also has a positive effect on those taking part. Through dialogue. Freire believes, People achieve significance as people. Freirian dialogue is centred on ‘generative themes’ and ‘codes’. Introducing a ‘Generative Theme’ A generative theme is an issue which spontaneously generates a reaction in the whole person, mind and heart. Distress and anxiety are as likely to arise in such dialogue as enthusiasm and joy. Since good does not automatically come out of bad, the dialogue has to be carefully structured to channel attention towards a positve goal. The process begins with listening to what people say, to what makes them withdraw into silence and to what releases that trust which allows them to communicate again. As Freire puts it: ‘It becomes the duty of the educator to search for appropriate paths for the learner to unravel.’

Paulo Freire's ideas on education

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