Whether we like to ponder upon it or not, the way in which teacher, tutors, professors, etc. educate us is important. As students, education surrounds us constantly and it can make a huge impact on the way we learn. Do you remember having that really awesome teacher in your classroom? Did you like going to class, conversing with your teacher, and generally enjoy what you were taught? Now think of the teacher that you hated. Going to class probably would have been an everyday burden, let alone the subject you were learning.
As an education minor, I’m given a lot of opportunities to read pedagogical works that discuss ways in which educators can teach in the “best” way possible. And even if you might not be an educator major or minor, I think every student should read upon pedagogical works. But why should it even matter? Having a sense of awareness about the way educators educate us can make a large impact on how we can take control of our academic well-being. When we collectively have knowledge about good and bad pedagogy, we can make a difference on how should be taught instead of accepting what’s given to us.
As someone who is a part of the Writing Success Program, we base a part of our methodology on a certain pedagogy – Paulo Freire’s pedagogy. It is why we focus so much on student empowerment instead of disempowerment. We make sure to give students a voice during sessions, and I can personally say that we have Freire’s own beliefs about education to thank. If you are unfamiliar with Paulo Freire (I like to call him the boss of education), you can read more about him here.
I recently read Freire’s article, “The Adult Literacy Process as Cultural Action for Freedom” as a requirement for my Literacy in Society class, and I took a huge liking to it. Freire is so conscious! So thoughtful! He is the type of educator I aspire to be – an advocate for social justice and empowerment through education. And whether you like to learn about education or not, I highly recommend you all read it. It’s not long, I promise!
In his article, Freire mentions two main points from his article that I really resonated with. Keep in mind: the article talks specifically about adult literacy but his beliefs can apply to education in general, which is why I love him so much. Also, there’s much, much more to his article than these two ideas.
- Society focuses too much on a “digestive” concept of knowledge
This “digestive” concept of knowledge, so common in current educational practice, is found very clearly in the primer. The “primer” that Freire references to are any literature textbooks based for adults, but I believe that this digestive type of knowledge isn’t only found in adult textbooks but in a lot teaching methodologies, assignments, etc. What exactly he means by this concept of knowledge is that textbooks base of their method of teaching through repetition and memorization, stripping the meaning behind the word. Words become “deposits of vocabulary” where the socio-cultural perspectives of illiterates are ignored. And when this happens, the process of learning becomes alienating – learners are not actually learning, just memorizing and repeating words.
Sounds a little familiar, doesn’t it? (*cough* high school)
- The true act of knowing means having authentic dialogue
The adult literacy process as an act of knowing implies the existence of two interrelated contexts. One is the context of an authentic dialogue between learners and educators as equally knowing subjects. This is what schools should be— the theoretical context of dialogue. The second is the real, concrete context of facts, the social reality in which men exist.
Let’s say I wanted to learn a language such as Japanese. Do you think I could learn all the in’s and out’s of Japanese simply through reading a textbook? It’s not possible. If I want to learn Japanese – meaning I am not only fluent in just reading and writing but completely understanding the nuances of some words, phrases, etc. – then simply reading from a textbook to learn is impossible. Some educators believe that for illiterate individuals, having them simply read and write is not enough. Freire argues that if an individual is to become empowered and actually experience the process of learning, an authentic dialogue is absolutely required between the teacher and the learner.
The reason why I consider this pedagogy to be my favorite is because Freire puts faith into the illiterates. In my case, I believe his pedagogy can extend to not only adult illiterates but everyone. While society may see adult illiterates as people who do not have a voice and lack any knowledge, Freire actively pushes to eradicate that poisonous belief.
And as students, and subsequently, the future of our country, we should all strive to be individuals who put faith in each other in the academic sphere. If you’re interested in reading Freire’s article, here is the link. (Page 1-18)