Via Curriculum Studiesâ€” Henry Giroux on Freire’s Lessons for Now!
Dec 1, 2010 … Lessons to Be Learned From Paulo Freire as Education Is Being Taken Over by the Mega Rich. Tuesday 23 November 2010. by: Henry A. Giroux, …
Henry Giroux has been really ranting lately, inspired by Paulo Freireâ€™s work and thinking: especially â€œPedagogy of the Oppressedâ€ â€“ and especially the â€œpoliticalâ€ understanding of education in these times of politics bending toward money and powerâ€¦ and control of studentsâ€™ thinking.
I mostly agreeâ€¦ but a good bit of Freire has disappeared in the name of politics being overtaken by economic analyses and control of the very nature of education.
Education in the Western world â€“ perhaps most especially – is being attacked by the rich and lovers of the rich – who oppose the public schools, the teachers who tend to find solace and power in unions, life tenure, pensions, and all. Charter Schools, private schools. Blah! On public schools and on the public.
Even most liberals (Obamaâ€¦so far anyway) have gone for control of teachers and teaching, supporting â€œNo Child Left Behindâ€ â€“ presumably as ways to â€œsuccessâ€ for students. Do what I/we tell you, and how we tell you, andâ€¦!
Girouxâ€™ hero â€“ rightfully, but for at least some different reasons â€“ has been Freire whose book has sold well over a million copies. But his ideas continue to be fragmented by the would-be powers â€“ and his â€œmethodsâ€ of education, particularly â€œdialogueâ€ have apparently yielded to the anti-politics of Giroux invocating money – now controlling politics. â€œCritical pedagogyâ€ is Girouxâ€™s Freireian term for what is missing increasingly in the current war for our future: thinking and being.
Freire would get (especially poorer) students to study and understand the power and motivations which got them educated effectively to prolong and promote the power of the few â€“ by not attending to the â€œbankingâ€ and â€œtellingâ€ methods which the rich and powerful imposed on most students.
â€œLearn what I tell you!â€ Never mind contexts and methods which effectively keep most students in their â€œproperâ€ places: learn what I tell you – never mind the fact that I-the-teacher â€“ am guarding the status quo by convincing you that this is â€œwayâ€ of the world â€“ no questions asked. Just learn what I tell you, as efficiently as possible. Itâ€™s all politicsâ€¦ but the politics remain â€œhiddenâ€ and yâ€™all donâ€™t ask no questions! The world of the powerful remains â€œdistantâ€ and effectively hidden to the students. Increasingly efficient!
So much to agree with â€“ especially in these times of attacks on schooling, teachers â€“ especially as so many education systems of other countries seem much more â€œsuccessfulâ€ than ours.
But much, so deep, is left-outâ€¦ omitted from this particular if not exactly narrow analysis. Particularly people, persons â€“ everyone: teachers and students â€“ have no clear â€œpresenceâ€ in this world. Presence: persons, thoughtful, development of the very nature of clarity over the course of the entire course, so it can enter studentsâ€™ beingâ€¦ perhaps especially after the course is â€œover.â€
Here Iâ€™m quoting Freire â€“ who I invoke in my book and course: â€œTeaching as Dialogue.â€ Freireâ€™s major way-out of the power-pinch is Dialogue. And most of the educators who Freire-ise education invoke the term: but apparently only a few of us seriously explore and apply dialogue in our teaching-being.
I want to â€œtouchâ€ the futures of my students â€“ I would love to be â€œrememberedâ€ as â€œinspiringâ€ their futures. But much about â€œmeâ€ â€“ a person â€“ much about them being and becoming who they would be. Mostly the Freireians donâ€™t seem to be â€œpresentâ€ â€“ strong, memorableâ€¦ charactersâ€¦who â€œremainâ€ some places in â€œtheirâ€ studentsâ€™ ongoing thinking.
(Can I be remembered, have power without being very â€œoppressiveâ€ in their thinking? Am I â€œgood enoughâ€ to deserve having some presence in their lives? Or is this just a â€œdifferentâ€ route to power and control from the past: more than inspiring â€œmyâ€ students to study and develop their own personal framings ofâ€¦ power and control.) Whew! (If Socrates only realized that his idea of dialogue was always to know all the â€œanswersâ€ to his question-ing!)
So: enough to begin/continue the study of Freire, amidst the facts of his being still inspiring me, most days as I teach, and am a teacher. Growing with my memories and appreciations of his work and thinking.
But a â€œtrueâ€ dialogue? â€“ a lifetime pursuitâ€¦ and then some.
Why do so many teachers invoke their anti-politics, even as they (donâ€™t find themselves) donâ€™t enrich their own teaching in the practicings of dialogue?