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Response Paper 2

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Leah Kahler

Professor Alice Lesnick

Critical Issues in Education

February 20, 2013


To my group members: I chose to analyze Freire because I had a hard time reading and am unsure if I’m misinterpreting his points, so if you got something different from the reading, please let me know. I chose three separate passages to which to respond.


“By ‘progressive’, I mean a point of view that favors the autonomy of the students” (21).

Looking back over the binaries that we established on the first day of class between traditional and progressive educations, the line seemed very blurry then. Freire puts it in obvious terms- a progressive education is one that grants the student to decide. But the question that follows his simplification is what choices exactly are the students making? Are they allowed to decide what to study? How to study it? And most importantly, is the array of choices discrete, or is the student allowed as many educative possibilities as his imagination can muster?

In one of our discussions in class around tracking and AP classes, we remarked the differences within our class as to how students landed in AP classes. Some were placed (seemingly without choice), while others were given the choice to apply, and still others were allowed to self-select into the classes. To a limited degree, the latter subsection of students had autonomy in class selection, but Dewey would argue it is possible, maybe even probable, for these students to operate in a traditionally conceived school system.


“I want to focus on and discuss some of the kinds of knowledge that are fundamental to what I call critical (or progressive) educative practice and that, for that reason, ought to be considered essential in the teacher preparation program” (30).

            Freire is too sparse (or maybe I’m missing it) in his description of what these fundamental kinds of knowledge or even how they would manifest in the classroom. In chapter two he goes on to criticize a “teaching training program,” (37) but the distinction is not made clear. He cites the ideology that “to teach is not to transfer knowledge but to create the possibilities for the production or construction of knowledge” (30). This is a framework through which to think about teaching and requires a specific, absent in the Freire, skill set that a teacher would have to develop in order to reach Freire’s model of progressive teaching.

            My high school film teacher was an excellent example of a purveyor of this creation of knowledge mantra. Every once in a while, he would assign us a topic or a specific film and we were supposed to spend thirty minutes on browsing the web for interesting thoughts on the topic or film. Often, the discussion the next day on these topics were the most generative of the class. We were allowed limited and directed autonomy and were researching in a way that was very natural to our socializations, so the constructed knowledge stuck and was ready to be shared with our classmates the next day.

“In truth, conscientization is a requirement of our human condition” (55).

Freire overstates the importance of conscientization, or the awareness of self in the educative process. It does not account for many different learning styles or stages, and is pseudointellectual. Only those that are interested in studying education in a state of meta-learning would be aware of their conscientization or lack thereof, and be able to work on it. I do not believe my friends with significant learning disabilities or mental retardation are able to become conscience of the way in which they are learning, nor is that a necessary condition for their learning process to be called complete. That being said, I acknowledge that for me, and many students like me, intellectualism is directly linked to being aware of how I am learning things and being able to question the learning’s positionality, but for some people learning skills required for manual labor or simple math are absolutely enough, and Freire would deny them their right to the title of a progressive education.