Paulo Freire

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What does "Educate to Liberate" mean?

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The idea that the purpose of education is liberation is linked with the Brazilian social theorist Paulo Freire, as expressed in his landmark Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Freire’s ideas grew out of his experiences growing up in poverty, obtaining an education, and later serving as the director of a huge literacy training program for Brazil’s Cultural Extension Service.

Freire saw most traditional methods of education as top-down imposition onto the students. He wrote that this perpetuated the existing social structure and related problems, as it treated the students as ignorant and waiting to acquire knowledge. He coined the phrase “banking system” to mean that each mind was treated like an account into which facts were deposited, an approach he rejected. Instead, he advocated a dialogic system that stressed critical thinking. In this approach, students would pose their own questions and develop the necessary skills not only to acquire facts but to conceptualize a different type of society. Thus, they would liberate themselves not only from educational conventions but from the mental confines that kept them within repressive societal structures. This included an acute awareness of the dehumanization to which they had been subjected so that people would welcome rather than fear freedom and would no longer aspire to join the ranks of the oppressors.

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