Liberation, Oppression and Education: Extending Freirean Ideas
More than a decade has now passed since Paulo Freire’s death in 1997. International interest in Freire’s work appears to be stronger than ever, with new conference papers and journal articles published on Freirean themes every year. Around a dozen books on Freire have appeared in the English language alone over the past ten years, and others are currently in production. This ongoing engagement with Freirean ideas has been given added impetus by the fact that new books by Freire himself continue to be released. Most of the posthumously published texts appeared in the period immediately following Freire’s death (e.g., Freire, 1998a, 1998b, 1998c), but other writings that had previously enjoyed only limited circulation are still being assembled into book form. One of the most recent examples is Pedagogy of Indignation, published by Paradigm in 2004. Pedagogy of Indignation (Freire, 2004) includes a series of letters and short essays by Freire, most written in the last years of his life. These are preceded by a Foreword (by Donaldo Macedo), a prologue (by Ana Maria Araújo Freire), and a letter (by Balduino Andreola). Freire addresses an eclectic range of topics in the essays and letters – social change, literacy, technology, adult education, hope, and utopia, among other subjects – and in so doing he revisits, reworks and extends key themes in his philosophy of education. Here, as in previous publications, Freire’s approach in tackling any subject involves reflection on deeper theoretical questions: What does it mean to be a human being? How do we come to know? How ought we to structure society? What are some of the impediments to the pursuit of human ideals? These underlying ontological, epistemological, ethical, and political questions are really the heart of the book. While there is not a great deal here that is new for readers well versed in Freire’s work, the combination of themes is distinctive and some of the answers Freire gives to longstanding questions differ in subtle ways from those provided in earlier published writings. There is, for instance, greater attention paid to the importance of willing in human life. Freire’s critique of technicist modes of thought also finds fresh attention in these pages. The relationship between reason and emotion is explored here, as it was in other later works, and Freire’s concern with ecological issues is also evident.