Nina Wallerstein and Ira Shor’s articles both provide wonderful summary and analysis of the concepts found in Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. The articles include analysis and suggestions of classroom application for terms such as problem posing, liberation, and critical consciousness. Freire stresses the need for love and faith in teachers, he advocates for a learning system that encourages critical thinking, examination of the learning-process and society, instead of being a “delivery [system] for lifeless bodies of knowledge” (Shor, 25).
Freirean classrooms would also “pose problems derived from student life, social issues and academic subjects it a mutually created dialogue. ” (Shor, 25). Both Wallerstein and Shor suggest means of enforcing and carrying out a Freirean classroom. Shor focuses on transformative classrooms, mutual affirmation, and qualities of critical consciousness and values of pedagogy. While Wallerstien suggests three phases for successful problem-posing education: listening, dialogue and action. Shor’s ideas on transformative classrooms have much to do with the roadblocks that come along with trying to change.
Many teachers, students and public are afraid to stray from tradition, and embrace critical thinking methods. Shor suggests that traditionally classrooms create “passive citizens” and “authority-dependant” students, because of the banking systems used in education, and it is hard to break away from these ideals when students have been conditioned into them (29). There is a large thought that because a teacher is not being authoritarian, they are giving students the right to misbehave and slack off, and many students snub the “invitation to question their internalized ideas, official knowledge, and ainstream politics of their society. ” (Shor, 29).
The resistance to change due the current comforting nature of the system, make it difficult to transform classrooms. Shor then introduces Freire’s ideas on a culture being shaped by the actions and reactions of a human society, including speech, behaviour, relations and creation. A liberating teacher must study these cultural aspects in order to best understand their students. This studying, as Shor points out, allows for problem-posing education to be reflective and relative to students lives.
This enables students to uses their knowledge to face real-life challenges, instead of learning how to memorize and repeat irrelevant information and also offers both student and teacher unique, and new insights to culture in their own lives. Next, Shor discuses Freire’s concept of critical consciousness (the main goal of Freirean education through holistic and critical thinking) through 4 qualities: Power Awareness, Critical Literacy, Desocialization, and Self-Education.
Power awareness is recognizing that society is made by human actions, and being aware of who holds power, and how they use it in society. Critical Literacy refers to an analytic way of approaching life through literacy subjects, finding meaning in any subject matter and applying that meaning to your own life experiences. Desocialization is being aware of and questioning any values, myths, behaviours, language or norms found in a large society and examining them critically. Self-Education is the initiative one has to improve oneself and break away from authoritarian ideas.
Finally, Shor explores the values of Freirean pedagogy. Shor lists ten values, the first being Participatory, which is the asking of students to “[decode] thematic problems” in an interactive process (33). Second are Situated values, meaning material is taught in regards to student’s thought and language, allowing students to relate to materials. Third, Critical values encourage critical selfreflection and social reflection of knowledge and material. Fourth, Democratic values mean the classroom allows student to have input in their curriculum as well as their dialogue.
Next, Dialogic values allow for problem posing and making and participating in their own education. Sixth the value of Desocialization rejects the passive nature of education, and challenges authority-dependence. Multicultural values mean the classroom recognizes differences in everything from ethnicity to sexuality and examines discrimination critically. Researchorientated values mean that students are researchers as well as examine research critically. Next, activist values mean the classroom is active and creates action from inquires.
Lastly, Affective value means that the classroom develops human feeling. Shor conclusively states that Freire has opened the door to liberating education and it is now time for educators and everyone to develop and enforce his ideas. Wallerstein agrees with Shor in many senses, but suggests three phases for problem-posing methodology. The first stage in Wallerstein’s ideas is Listening. Through on-going listening an educator may uncover the “hidden voices” and emotions of their students, which can give them important insight into their students lives (Wallerstein, 35).
Educators must listen both inside and outside of class to get a full understanding of students. Within the classroom one must acknowledge what makes each student react in different ways and outside one should always have ears and eyes open to observe through observation, interview and document analysis. In Dialogue, is the process of putting issues identified by listening in and out of the classroom to work, these issues, or topics of discussion are called “codes”. Wallerstein defines codes as “a concrete physical representation of a particularly critical issue that has come up during the listening phase” (38).
These codes can form many exercises, but should always represent a familiar issues, be presented as a problem with no obvious good or bad side, focus on one concern at a time and offer possibilities for small action, and many solutions. Codes allow students to explore issues in a depersonalized setting, and ultimately, promote critical thinking and action. To get a classroom to discus codes, Wallerstein suggests a multitude of questions one may ask, these range from defining the problem, to questioning why there is a problem.
Questioning will hopefully end in a solution or a push towards action, or in identifying a “root cause”, or underlying motives, of an issue ( Wallerstein, 41). In this dialogue a teacher must allow students to take charge of their learning and focus on question asking and problem-posing without offering their own personal solutions. Wallerstein concludes that this questioning will facilitate group learning, and “encourage people to rely on each other for learning, and for effective change. ” (41). The final step in Wallerstein’s model, is Action.
Action, according to Wallerstein is essential to learning and allows for deeper learning through experiment inside and outside of the classroom. “Action for students means learning to see themselves as social and political beings, with rights to access to the political systems of their workplaces or their cities. ” (Wallerstein, 43). Part of finding a solution is devising a plan of action for that solution and classrooms should encourage students to implement some action into their lives, to further their learning experience.
Entangled in the action stage Wallerstein suggests an evaluation. But, unlike traditional evaluations, a problem posing evaluation does not fulfill predetermined objectives. Instead the evaluation must consider each students growth, relative to their own lives. These articles stress that the main focus of any Freirean education is that learning is not passive, and it must actively involve both the student and teacher in simultaneous learning through dialogue.
This dialogue must include all parties equally and with attention to each party’s circumstances. Both articles offer unique and wonderful insights and interpretations of Freire’s work. I believe that they will help further me in my teaching career by sparking my thought process on what kind of teacher I want to be. Freire offers a wonderful outlook on education, and I strive to be a caring, thoughtful, ethical, and liberating educator in my up incoming teaching years, as well as my everyday life.