Paulo Freire's lifework is a testament to Critical
Theory. His insights into what he called "the culture of
silence"(Freire, 1998b, p.14) led him to take an active role
in social reform.
A long-time adult educator and native of Brazil,
Freire worked to help the disposessed peoples of urban and rural
Brazil to find a voice. In 1964, following a military coup, his
work was considered a threat to social order. Freire was arrested
and exiled. It was during his time in prison that he began his
first book, Educacao como a Pratica da Liberdade, (Education
as the Practice of Freedom ).
He continued working with the poor while living
in Chile, and later as a professor at Harvard's Center for Studies
in Education and Development and was also Fellow at the Center
for the Study of Development and Social Change. In 1970, he published
his first work in English,which outlined the foundation of his
principals, Pedagogy of the Oppressed :
- Man's onotological vocation is to be a Subject who acts upon
and transforms his world, and in so doing moves toward ever
new possiblities of fuller and richer life individually and
- Every human being, no matter how "ignorant" or submerged
in the culture of silence he or she may be, is capable of looking
critically at the world in a dialogical encounter with others.
- Provided with proper tools for this encounter, the individual
can gradually perceive personal and social reality as well as
the contradictions in it, become conscious of his or her own
perception of that reality, and deal critically with it (Freire,
1998b, p. 14).
In 1979, Freire was invited to return to Brazil,
where he joined the faculty at the University of Sao Paulo. In
1988, he became the Minister of Education for Sao Paulo, enabling
him to institute reform thoughout most of Brazil.
Freire's work has inspired others worldwide to
join in the fight for social reform, cautioning them not to see
his philosophy as methodology, but rather to reinvent the philosophy
to fit their reality. Freire died in May, 1997, but his work continues
today through the voices of others who carry the message.
isn't something hidden in a corner. The future is something we
build in the present."--Paulo Freire