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Response Paper #2 Sparkle Shoes?

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Christine Newville


            I struggle with Freire because I agree with him the most, but also find the most problems with his ideas.  I would like to talk most about chapter two on the section titles “Respect for what Students Know”. I think this is an amazing concept to bring into the classroom; that the teacher should use the backgrounds of the students to enhance their own teachings. Even using the word ‘respect’ shows a great degree of humility required from the teacher, that the teacher should not come into a classroom with a superior and apathetic manor, but should evaluate each student as a person with a story.

            When I first read Freire, I could see this being a very effective way of teaching the humanities, using current world events to understand past social tensions, or taking personal backgrounds to understand a text, this to me is beauty in a classroom and would lead to good discussion and thought. However I struggled to understand how Freire would be applied to a science classroom, most of all a math. I felt that, because there was so little discussion in math classes to begin with, that math was, in fact, a set of rules and systems not to be reinvented or evaluated, that Freire would have a hard time involving personal backgrounds into the curriculum.

            During class on Tuesday, I brought up this passage to my mini group and this dilemma was pretty well solved. Freire’s method works especially well in math and in the sciences because it involves respect for the student. I cannot count how many times I have not participated in class because I was unsure of my answer or comment, that I did not know the correct vocabulary or approach. With Freire’s method, me saying perhaps an incorrect statement or taking an off approach to a problem would be a ‘learning opportunity’. It would allow the teacher to see where I was coming from and would also allow the classroom community to maybe see a different perspective on how to visualize/understand/approach the problem, and encourage other students to participate, knowing that not every other person in the room was a secret genius- as it so often seems.

            My last dilemma with Freire, is my dilemma with almost all the texts we have studied that suggest a teaching method, sustainability. I cannot imagine every teacher paying such detailed attention to each of his or her students and challenging the mindset of each and every one of them. I can imagine it for a school such as Bryn Mawr, where we know our professors and expect them to know and understand us. But in a high school of 1,000 per grade, I cannot imagine a teacher replicating this. Perhaps, if she or he used the community surrounding the high school as a generic mold for the students, they could effectively respect the student’s background. But I’m skeptical of this. I am also skeptical of how Freire would give out grades and decide who goes to medical school and becomes a doctor.