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Freirean Dialogue

swetha's picture

I've been thinking a lot about dialogue recently especially since in my other education class, we are talking a lot about the role of listening and silence in being a healing presence. The main difference that strikes me is that the discussion of listening and silence, while healthy for everyone, is not always beneficial for everyone. For example, in instances where, for lack of a better word, the "oppressed" are being told to listen and create silence, there is no change happening, there is no disrupting of the norm, and there is no empowerment or elevation of the voices of those whose voices should be elevated. However, I do understand the need for that silence to create space for the voices of the "oppressed," rather than the voices of the "oppressor." This angle of implementing contemplative practice in the classroom is an interesting one because it assumes that everyone is on an equal playing field of carrying a voice and being permitted the space to use it, and that everyone therefore needs that silence to reflect upon themselves, whereas for those whose voices are not always heard, it creates just yet another space where they cannot present themselves fully. i worry that there is a fine line between reflective contemplative practice and perpetuating the silencing of "oppressed" voices in the classroom.

More tied to the Frierean idea of dialogue, the trope he creates opens up a space for community learning and what Freire discusses as the social liberation in opposition to individual empowerment. I really appreciated this alternative explanation to individual empowerment because of how, as Freire describes, the American education system in general is so focused on the individual that it often forgets the social responsibility of the process of education. I think as Freire later talks about the teacher as an artist and the room for sort of growth and goals in the classroom, it became jarringly evident to me how much goals in schools are on such an individual basis, and for a group to be considered successful, each student must demonstrate success in the same subject area through some arbitrary measure of success. Coming to an understandng of the teacher as an artist is a process that I think many, if not most, teachers have yet to begin. However, Freire makes several compelling arguments as to why they should, and I think his argument about the necessity of describing the aesthetic that we bring and use to shape our students encompasses a lot of what we have been talking about with relation to the teacher's positionality in the classroom, and of course the political act of teaching.