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Revisiting Freire's "Cultural Action for Freedom"

pyiu's picture

For this week I decided to revisit Paulo Freire's "Cultural Action for Freedom." I am drawn to his idea of education as cultural action for freedom. Nonetheless, it also leads me to wonder if the education that Freire describes ever truly exists. On a basic level, Freire talks about how this type of education is dialectic and involves an act of truly knowing (not just rote memorization), where one knows about his/her "concrete historical and cultural reality." However isn't history always written by the victors? And does an essential cultural reality exist? In Wozniak's psychology class we talk about the origins and development of culture. We also discuss the lack of an essential self, and so I wonder if such an essential cultural reality exists. Won't this cultural "reality" in the end be influenced by the mindset of whichever side one percieves reality to be? 

Nonetheless, if such an education is possible, Freire claims that individuals will be able to change their thinking. That their thinking will be transformed so that possibly these people will not longer be "irresistibly attracted by the lifestyle of the director society," but begin to uncover more of their alienated culture and the oppresiveness of the director culture. Then the alienated culture will begin to have a voice, their own voice, and thus form their own culture. Concerning this part of his theory, I wonder if this is how revolutions have been started. And on that note, what difference occurs that results in revolutionary change, versus people who simply choose to aspire to the lifestyle of their director society and perpetuate the oppression?   

Moreover, Freire argues how we have to give countries a voice and not just modernize them, However how is this done? In our capitalist driven mindsets today many believe that in order for countries to grow strong and have a voice that they must have economic power and stability. Thus how can we work to modernize countries, without imposing our ways upon them? Moreover, concerning my last post about critics of the MDGs, can it be said that we are simply modernizing nations so that they are "irresistably attracted to the liftstyle of the director culture" even now? 

Freire ends with his ideal desire, "that our thinking may coincide historically with the unrest of all those who, whether they live in those cultures that are wholly silenced or in the silent sectors of cultures that prescribe their voice, are struggling to have a voice of their own." As I ponder upon how to accomplish this I think to what Freire said in "Pedagogy of the Oppressed", how we need to have a mindset of accompaniment and not of charity. In other words, we need to work on coming alongside a person where they are and building relationships with people. However, is this possible to do without an aspect of charity? Many NGOs go see and need and try to address it. Maybe, as Alice brought up in class concerning how OSU Children's Fund started, we need to simply have a passion and then how that passion to others, coming alongside them in that aspect. 

In conclusion I am most interested in how theories can be applied and practice in reality. Thus I hope to continue to look more into NGOs and see how their missions and methodologies either align or go against Freire's theories. And by doing so I also want to see if Freire's theories are correct or not. More specifically, I hope to examine these aspects with the Titagya schools in Ghana, and possibily other NGOs in the region.