Monday, July 5, 2010

Listening, Facilitating, and Conversing with Freire in mind - Alan Wight

As a newcomer to the study of education, I have only recently been introduced to P. Freire (1970). I love his ideas, suggested methods, and hope in education as a vehicle for positive-equitable social change.  I have decided to work Freire’s dialogical approach into a course I am teaching call Spaceship Earth: Theory and Practice.  One important aspect of this seminar is student’s ability to read, write, and discuss their thoughts on the topics at hand.  This past week I steered the conversation away from our “scheduled” course material and asked the students to talk about what was important to them, what was on their mind at that moment---even if it was “unrelated” to the material.  Our conversation eventually landed on other classes and the methods used by those teacher / educators who facilitate them.  After class, I could not help but think about the relationship between method, process, and outcome.  If students were to design a class, what would they focus on?  Like the peasants in Freire’s books, how would students “name the world” if they were given a chance.  I am not sure if a school is answer or the right place to help “the majority” people in our society.  Ivan Illich (1970) and David Orr (1992) discuss how schools basically teach us how to consume.  They argue that those individuals with higher educational qualification, degrees upon degrees, and fancy certificates end up being the people most responsible for harming the planet –jet setting for conferences, creating crazy devices (like atomic and hydrogen weapons), and using an unfair share of our resources.  As someone who is in training, within the academy, what can I do?  If I follow Freire’s advice, I should just let the students choose the topics to be discussed….

Freire, Paulo (1970), Pedagogy of the Oppressed.
Illich, Ivan (1970), Deschooling Society.
Orr, David (1992),  Earth in Mind.

1 comment:

  1. When you mentioned Ivan Illich at the group meeting today, I knew it rang a bell. He is the person who founded the Center for Intercultural Documentation (CIDOC) in Cuernavaca, Mexicao (see Finger and Asun, Adult Education at the Crossroads: Learning Our Way Out, 2001). The CIDOC was "meant to be the inverse of a university: a library-centered place for advanced learning where courses grew out of self-organized reading and all readers were equally empowered to organize their own seminars" (p. 8).

    And I agree that schools do teach people how to consume; but what is the root of this consumption? I'm going to find that out!