Rage and Hope Home Page
Site Contents
Critical Theory Explained
Critical Theorist: Michael Apple
Critical Theorist: Paolo Freire
Critical Theorist: Henry Giroux
Critical Theorist: Peter McLaren
About Us: Information About Site Developers
Systems of Human Inquiry Web Project Page
Rage and Hope
Paulo Freire

Excerpts from Mentoring the Mentor

Donaldo Macedo|Peter C. Murrell, Jr.|Gloria Ladson-Billings|James W. Fraser|William T. Stokes| Asgedet Stefanos|Tim Sieber|Ron Scapp|Freire's Response


James W. Fraser
   Love and History in the Work of Paulo Freire

"There is in Paulo Freire, in his writing, his speaking, and his personal presence, a profound sense of love, humility, and rootedness in life and in the present historical moment"(Fraser, 1997 p.175), Fraser says as he opens his article. He goes on to explore three significant themes that run through Freire's work:

  • ...his deep respect for for every person, evinced in his insistence that the oppressed never be seen as a group to be led nor as individuals in need of salvation by a vanguard, but rather as creators of their own liberation.
  • His call for humility on the part of all educators in light of this need for mutual respect between teacher and learner.
  • the deep rooting of his pedagogy in history, and in the flesh and blood reality of human existence (p. 176).

As an example of the love in Freire's writing, Fraser examines dialogical action. He believes that the commitment one makes to take part in dialogical action requires love and mutual respect.

In Freire's work, this notion of loving pedagogy demands that the teacher always begin with a deep respect for all students, for what they can bring to the dialogue that will make it richer for everyone (p.177).

He stresses that this means that the educator is not focussing on his or her own agenda, but that each individual becomes the maker of her or his own liberation.

Fraser's notes the history in Freire's work in his emphasis on the present and concrete. By making the present a concrete moment in history, the learner is able to shape his or her own history. "Again and again this theme emerges, it is essential to be an actor in history not merely a witness of the drama"(p.194).

Paulo Freire represents an approach to education that is filled with hope and love concretely located in action in the historical present (p.196).


William T. Stokes
   Progressive Teacher Education: Consciousness, Identity, and Knowledge

Current teacher education focusses heavily on conservative programmatics, placing heavy emphasis on methods of teaching in models that are "managerial, medical, and scientistic" in form (Stokes, 1997, p.202). Stokes argues that this places both teachers and students as "consumers of knowledge created by remote theorists, researchers, and experts who design 'teacher proof' materials and procedures"(p.203).

This focus leads to what Freire called banking education. Little or no emphasis is put upon reflection or critique in this kind of "skills-and methods-oriented" model that "discounts intellectual inquiry"(p.203).

Paulo Freire and Critical Consciousness

Through critical consciousness we can begin to understand our position in the world, but this alone is not enough.

Freire makes clear that consciousness of oppression, alone, does not create freedom; and education, alone, does not transform society. The means to liberation, however, require an understanding that is 'steeped in the dialectical movement back and forth between consciousness and world'(p.205).

Freire offers a new language. This, in turn, provides the language needed for critical literacy and new ways of seeing the world.

By reinventing Freire, Stokes has found a way to reflect upon his own teaching:

  • Who is the teacher?
  • From what historical and cultural position does the teacher act?
  • What is the authority of the teacher?
  • Does the teacher create, define, and delimit discourses?
  • Does the teacher (as author) legitimate and privilege certain meanings and interpretations over others?
  • If so, then are some voices silenced or marginalized?
  • How may the teacher participate in the creation of critical dialogue within which the learner becomes a historical agent of his or her own learning?(p.207).

Domestication of Teachers

In this section of his article, Stokes looks at current pre-service training for teachers and the way the current training method leads to domestication of teachers.

He criticizes this method for minimizing the "requirement that teachers engage in serious study of the history, philosophy, or sociology of education"(p.209). Critical pedagogy and cultural theory find a limited place in teacher education as well. In this way, pedagogies of hope and possibility are obstructed.

Another way teachers are domesticated is through the curriculum that they use. Publishers, trying to sell as many books as possible, have established a common curriculum that is meant to be taken as the authority of the subject. Even when there is disagreement about methodology, each purports to be the authoritative method. Both of these cases "...strips teachers of agency. The expert, through the textbook publisher, is the author of meanings and procedures that learners must accept"(p.210).This silences not only students, but teachers as well.

Critical Thinking and Critical Literacy

Stokes finds that too often, what is taken as critical thinking is actually teaching of critical thinking skills, which replaces the learner's "naturally developed understanding of the world with the conventional construction of reality." Teachers' discomfort with critique leads them to "...substitute method for theory. How to teach skills replaces serious critical examination of what is taught"(p.213).

From Children's Books to the Supreme Court

Another form of teacher domestication comes in the form of legalities. Stokes cites the 1988 Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, et al as a form of legal domestication. This Supreme Court decision ruled in favor of the school district in its censorship of controversial articles about divorce and teenage pregnancy that were to appear in a high school student newspaper.

Not only are the teachers to keep their students quiet but they are to remain silent themselves. In this manufacture consent; debate and critique are only permitted within narrowly acceptable limits. Students and teachers are discouraged from genuine dialogue, inquiry, and critique...(p.216)

Teacher Education for Transformation

In his final section, Stokes looks at conditions that must take place to create a transformation of teacher education.

  • Teacher education, if it is to be consistent with a progressive, democratic vision, must create the conditions of critical dialogue that challenges prospective teachers to examine their cultural identities and promotes the development of critical consciousness of their racial, ethnic, linguistic, and class positions (p.217).
  • A critical teacher education should problematize the lived experience of children, women, and men throughout this society, and simultaneous positions of domination and subordination--contradictory experiences of oppression and complicity with privilege (p.217).
  • A radical teacher education program must be founded on the belief that
    • the fundamental purpose of education in a democratic society is to provide opportunities for all citizens to participate fully in the cultural, political, and economic life of the nation and the world;
    • that the essential goals of elementary education are to enable children to become full participants and to develop all their talents and competencies needed to meet the social, historical, and material challenges that they will encounter throughout their lives;
    • that the teacher's role in education, therefore, is to guide, support, and engage all children, as active learners and makers of meaning, in the discovery and exploration of all aspects of the natural world and their cultural heritages (p.218).

Stokes stresses that it is "absolutely essential that teachers in this society be seen (and see themselves) as intellectuals" (p.221).


Asgedet Stefanos
   African Women and Revolutionary Change: A Freirian and Feminist Perspective

In Asgedet Stefanos' article, she demonstrates how Freirian theory can be reinvented. She describes how she examined the "relationship of gender politics and national liberation movement politics in both Guinea Bissau and Eritrea"(Stefanos, 1997, p.268) as influenced by Freirian thinking. Aspects that she found most helpful in her work were:

  • Freirian analysis of domination and liberation, his approach to building a humanitarian and democratic society are compatible with and relevant to feminism.
  • Freire's concepts and strategies concern interpersonal relations and deal with people's lives in concrete ways.
  • Freire's notion that the process of transformation has to take place through social awareness, critical analysis, and self-reliance contributes to shaping women's struggle for empowerment.
  • (Freirian theory) questions all acts of domination or oppression that keep people from becoming more fully human and over time impair their ability to act humanely (p.269-270).

A modification she found necessary was to incorporate feminist analyses. "A feminist analysis perceives women's oppression as embedded in the relationship of women to men"(p.270) As a feminist, she found it necessary to place male dominance (patriarchy) as the focus of her analysis of why and how women occupy inferior positions in society. She believes that Freire's notions of class and economic oppression need to be expanded to include gender oppression.


Donaldo Macedo|Peter C. Murrell, Jr.|Gloria Ladson-Billings|James W. Fraser|William T. Stokes| Asgedet Stefanos|Tim Sieber|Ron Scapp|Freire's Response


Paulo Freire
Oppressor/Oppressed Educational Banking Dialogic Action Pedagogy of Hope Others on Freire Links  
Updated: 11/29/99
Laurie Williams