Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ The Point of Freire

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Apr 29, 2009

Originally posted on Half an Hour, April 29, 2009.

Responding to Joanne Jacobs.

For information and links on Freire (none are provided in the article, naturally), see
I think the fact that the people worried about (what they call) ‘core knowledge’ are attacking Friere in itself demonstrates the relevance of his work.

When they say “there’s no mention of “testing, standards, curriculum…” etc., then so much the worse for testing, standards and curriculum.

The point of Freire’s work is to encourage and empower people to find out what they actually need to learn (instead of what they are told to learn) and to learn it for themselves, working together.
The message remains relevant today. If you are a passive learner, and learn only what your educators teach you, then you will play a passive role in society, at the sway of those who would lead you, unable to make your own way when conditions change.

A people, if it wishes to be successful, will inculcate values of self-reliance and personal direction in its citizens. Rather than fostering an educational system based on the maxim “learn what you are told,” as the core knowledge people would have it, you foster a system where people build their own education.

It is no surprise that Freire was jailed by Brazil’s military dictatorship. Authoritarians tell you what you need to learn. Authoritarians prefer people who are quietly obedient. Authoritarians prefer people who do what they are told, and who do not rock the boat with unauthorized and unsanctioned learning.
The red-baiting tactics being used to discredit Freire are typical of those who wish to obscure the core of his message, that a people free themselves from oppression only when they take control of what they learn and who they are.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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