Educating in a different way

Paolo Freire proposed a new way of educating. His Pedagogy of the Oppressed proposed an alternative to the “banking” model of teaching where the teacher has all the knowledge and the students just have to take it all in and regurgitate it.

Sad to say this is the model here in Honduras – and in most places throughout the world. How few people are educated for critical thinking and acting.

What attracts me to Freire’s thought is his insight that the poor and the oppressed are not merely victims; they should not just awaiting others to come and liberate them. The poor have the capability to understand their reality and to work to change it. They can the instruments of God’s liberation for the oppressors as well as the oppressed. As Paolo Freire wrote:

This, then, is the great humanistic and historical task of the oppressed: to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well. The oppressors, who oppress, exploit, and rape, by virtue of their power, cannot find in this power the strength to liberate either the oppressed or themselves. Only the power that springs from the weakness of the oppressed will be sufficiently strong to free both.

This insight is, as I see it, related to God’s option for the poor and marginalized, which is stated succinctly by Donal Dorr on page 4 of The Option for the Poor and for the Earth, which I just started reading:

What is more important from a Christian point of view is our belief that God “chose what is week in this world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world” (1Cor. 1: 27-28). This implies that those who are weak, poor, marginalized, or disadvantaged are privileged instruments of God in sharing in the saving work of Jesus. This in turn indicates that the poor and the disadvantaged have a privileged role in the prior reading of the “signs of the times,” which enables people to discern God’s will for themselves, for their communities, and for the wider world.



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