PROBLEM-POSING EDUCATION AS THE PRACTICE OF FREEDOM
theme: Education for humanisation of society depends on the respect for the nature of the human personality or 'human nature'. The human organism is a social organism which depends on true education based on resolution of the so-called student/teacher contradiction... allowing for communication as authentic dialogue.
"It is not possible to have a truly meaningful education for the 'humanisation' of society without the scientific recognition of the intrinsic nature and value of what it is to be human". (Gerald Karnow, "Educating the Whole Person for the Whole of Life," Holistic Education Review vol. 5 no.1: 64)
"Liberating education consists in acts of cognition, not transferrals of information. It is a learning situation in which the cognizable object (far from being the end of the cognitive act) intermediates the cognitive actors- teacher on the one hand and students on the other. Accordingly, the practice of problem-posing education entails at the outset that the teacher- student contradiction be resolved." (Paulo Freire Pedagogy of the Oppressed 67)
Traditional education is education for domination and is based on the concept of 'banking'. So-called 'banking education' implies a dichotomy between student and teacher - the 'student/teacher contradiction'. The contradiction is based on the premise that 'knowledge' is a gift which can be bestowed by those who consider themselves to be 'knowledgeable' upon those whom they consider to be ignorant. When their ignorance is considered to be absolute, students are presented with the teacher as their opposite. They are deprived of their right to ask 'why' and accept their ignorance as justification for the teacher's existence. They become alienated from their own capacity for critical thought and in this way are reduced to objects... This is dehumanisation.
Dehumanisation is " ... a distortion of being more fully human... the result of an unjust order that engenders violence in the oppressors, which in turn dehumanizes the oppressed." (Paulo Freire. Pedagogy of the Oppressed 28)
A mutual fear develops which maintains the student/teacher contradiction and has a dehumansing effect on personal development.
Human development is fostered by the the humaniing pedagogies of education for responsible freedom i.e. 'libratory education'. Libratory pedagogies aim to cultivate students' natural capacity for critical thought. Critical thinking is basic to intelligent decision-making and adaptive behaviour. Adaptive behaviour depends on learning as a process involving not only the consumption of ideas or 'concepts' but the creation and re-creation of new ones. The creation of new concepts depends on resolving the dichotomy of the teacher/student contradiction in a process of 'dialogue' which authentic. Each individual is capable of looking critically at their world through authentic dialogue. Based on the congruence of action and reflection authentic dialogue allows the individual to reclaim the right to self-expression. Words take on new power. In defining their world the individual achieves a new self-awareness and gains a new sense of hope and responsibility which forms the basis of their dignity and their autonomy i.e 'freedom'.
The student/teacher contradiction or 'dichotomy' is resolved through dialogue - dialogical relations.
Responsible freedom is the basis for social justice and depends on critical awareness of the social reality or 'critical consciousness'. In the development of critical consciousness, the individual gradually perceives the contradictions in their personal reality - their 'world'. Consciousness of one's perception of one's world makes it possible to deal critically with it and to continue to be critical. Development of critical consciousness depends on the education for the development of critical faculties i.e. 'problem-posing pedagogy'. Problem-posing pedagogy is based on the resolution of the teacher/student contradiction a pedagogy for humanization which is based on liberation of consciousness through authentic dialogue which opposes both authoritarianism and license and affirms responsibility, authority and freedom. Freedom is not possible without responsibility and authority. Authority and responsibiltiy are not possible without freedom. Education for responsible freedom is education for the possibility that under certain circumstances and at different existential levels, freedom can become authority and responsibiltiy. Freedom, responsibility and authority are interrelated. They cannot be isolated. In affirming both responsible freedom and authority, problem-posing pedagogy is the practice of authority and freedom through authentic dialogue which resolves the dichotomy of the teacher/student contradiction. Authentic dialogue allows for learning through acts of cognition and the creation of new concepts forming the basis for creative transformation of the social reality. As the basis for creativity, problem-posing pedagogy is considered 'revolutionary' because it stimulates inquiry and permits the student to ask 'why?'. It is a liberating pedagogy which encourages true reflection and eliminates the alienation which comes from the authoritarianism of 'intellectualism'. The teacher holds authority by virtue of greater knowledge and experience, presents the world to students for their consideration, re-considers earlier considerations and makes students aware of their problems in dealing with their world. Students and teachers are co-investigators in critical and authentic dialogue. Together they create the conditions under which their knowledge at the ordinary level - the 'doxa' (Greek for 'glory') is elevated to true knowledge, at the level of ultimate reality - the 'logos' (Greek for 'word'). The teacher becomes a guide or 'facilitator' who constructs a pedagogy encouraging the studens to recognize their own powers of theoretical reasoning. Teachers and students grow together in their joint responsibility for the development of critical consciousness in the reading of their social reality and this is 'critical literacy'.
Problem-posing education strives for liberation from the oppression of the inability to 'read reality' with a critical consciousness. 'Illiteracy' is reading reality in terms of uncontrollable forces and inevitablility. Illiteracy comes from uncritical consciousness - the inability to perceive the human character of one's social condition. Problem-posing education is education for the development of those critical faculties which are necessary for survival. Survival depends on adaptive behaviour which in turn depends on the individual's capacity for decision making and is based on the accurate and objective perception of their social reality. Social issues become problems to be solved... and this constitutes 'knowledge'.
The problem-posing pedagogy is a pedagogy for raising consciousness. In a process of consciousness raising, the individual learns to perceive critically his own mode of existence and bases his actions on a critical perception of his personal world. He sees his situation, not as fated but as limiting and therefore challenging. Gradually perceiving his personal and social reality as well as the contradictions in it, the individual becomes conscious of his own perception of that reality, and then can deal critically with it. In reflecting on his situation critically and objectively, he can make decisions and then act on his perception of a reality in process and then work to change his situation and transform his world. .
Problem-posing education has a person-centered approach which is based on the discovery method and the construction of meaning or 'active learning'. Active learning involves a view of the world as a reality in transformation. Students are presented with situations as problems with limitations and which can therefore be solved. They perceive the situation or 'reality' with critical objectivism and initiate their own learning. They become active in the construction of their own meaning or 'knowledge'. True knowledge is a product of natural learning which is based on the functioning of the human brain.
Advanced technological society is rapidly objectifying the human person and corrupting human values. People are subtly being programmed to conform to the logic of a social system which is dominated by technology.
The new libertarian education begins with resolution of the dichotomy between student and teacher i.e. the 'student/teacher contradiction'. The student/teacher contradiction is a dehumanising act of violence which interferes with full human development or 'humanisation'. Humanisation is favoured when the student/teacher contradiction is resolved.
Education for humanisation represents hope for humanity.
The oppressors cannot lead the struggle for freedom... they are dehumanised because they dehumanise others. The oppressed must first 'critically' recognize the causes for injustice and create a new situation to remove the causes for their oppression. Central problem: "how can the oppressed participate in developing the pedagogy of their liberation?" (33) They must first make the "critical discovery that both they and their oppressors are manifestations of dehumanization." The contradiction of the 'oppressor-oppressed' is superceded by the concept of the humanization of both oppressor and oppressed. The pursuit of the right to be human is the pursuit of freedom. The process of humanization is the process of achieving freedom. The liberation of the oppressed depends on their perception of reality as a limiting situation which they can transform. By liberating themselves, they liberate their oppressors. Oppressive acts prevent the individual's self-affirmation and right to be human.
The problem-posing method presents the situation as one with limitations - as a problem which he is challenged to solve... in this way deepens the individual's consciousness about his situation. The process of inquiry is stimulated. Problem-posing education, humanist and liberating ... the individual must fight for freedom. It requires the elimination of teacher authoritarianism and alienating 'intellectualism.' It depends on the dialogue- dialogical relations- and is considered 'revolutionary' because the 'oppressed' individual (student of banking education) is not permitted by the oppressor to ask "why?"
Implications for education: resolution of the 'student-teacher contradiction' and 'holistic education'
The teacher is a guide or 'facilitator' who constructs a pedagogy which encourages them to recognize their own powers of theoretical reasoning.
"Education which is able to resolve the contradiction between teacher and student takes place in a situation in which both address their act of cognition to the object by which they are mediated." (Paulo Freire Pedagogy of the Oppressed page 81)
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Liberating pedagogy: pedagogy of the 'oppressed'... pedagogy for humanisation... problem-posing education... 'Pedagogy of the oppressed' is a life-affirming humanising pedagogy; a pedagogy of the practice of freedom, which "denies that man is abstract, isolated, independent, and unattached to the world; it denies that the world exists as a reality apart from men." ( Herder and Herder, 1971 (original Portuguese manuscript 1968, translated by Myra Bergman Ramos 69)
The great humanistic and historical task of the oppressed is to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well." Oppressors oppress, exploit, and rape by virtue of their power. They cannot find in this power the strength to liberate either the oppressed or themselves. Only power that springs from the weakness of the oppressed will be sufficiently strong to free both. In an attempt to 'soften' their power with a paternalistic false 'generosity', the oppressors perpetuate the injustice which creates the oppressed. True generosity is fighting to destroy the causes of injustice. This fight is an act of love. In the process of liberating the oppressors, the oppressed liberate themselves. Freedom is "the indispensable condition for the quest for human completion."(31)
Problem-posing education "strives for the emergence of consciousness and 'critical intervention' in reality. As the practice of freedom, it only works when the teacher student contradiction is resolved through dialogue - dialogical relations. Mediated by the world, students and teachers teach each other. They all grow in the joint responsibility for the learning process. The 'problem-posing method' eliminates the teacher-student dichotomy. The teacher does not regard the 'cognizable' material as his private property. He "presents the material to the students for their consideration, and re-considers his earlier considerations as the students express their own." (68) The students become critical 'co-investigators in dialog ue with the teacher.' "The role of the problem-solving educator is to create, together with the students, the conditions under which knowledge at the level of the 'doxa' is superseded by true knowledge, at the level of the 'logos.'(68) "Students, as they are increasingly posed with problems relating to themselves in the world and with the world, will feel increasingly challenged and obliged to respond to that challenge. Because they apprehend the challenge as interrelated to other problems within a total context, not as a theoretical question, the resulting comprehenion tends to be increasingly critical and thus constantly less alienated. Their response to the challenge evokes new challenges, followed by new understandings; and gradually the students come to regard themselves as committed."(PAULO FREIRE, PEDAGOGY OF THE OPPRESSED Herder and Herder, 1971 (original Portuguese manuscript 1968, translated by Myra Bergman Ramos 68-69) PROBLEM-POSING EDUCATION theme: Problem-posing education de-mythisizes reality, transforming reality by unveiling its 'true' nature and thereby fostering rational thinking. MYTHISIZE OR MYTHOLOGIZE? PROBLEM-POSING EDUCATION and WHOLISTIC BRAIN BASED EDUCATION: Wholistic perception of reality required for congruence of thought and action necessary for survival in a changing environment. To have a rational and critical perception of one's reality means that one can perceive the various parts as constituent elements of a whole. Wholistic perception of reality means having a total vision of the context of the constituent fragments and thereby gaining a clearer perception of the reality in its totality. PAULO FREIRE, PEDAGOGY OF THE OPPRESSED Herder and Herder, 1971 (original Portuguese manuscript 1968, translated by Myra Bergman Ramos) Problem-posing education strives to demythologize. "Dialogue is indispensable to the act of cogniton which unveils reality." It is natural education based on the brain's natural functioning. Critical faculties are developed. Students are made into critical thinkers. The individual learns to perceive critically his own mode of existence in the world in which he finds himself. His survival depends on his actions which depend on his decision making faculties based on accurate and objective perception of reality of his surroundings and his world. Perceiving reality with critical objectivism, he sees the world as a reality in process, in 'transformation.' His actions are based on his perception of the reality of his world. He seees his situation, not as fated but as limiting and therefore challenging. He can reflect on his situation critically and objectively and then act on his objective perception of a reality in process. He can make decisions on the basis of this objective perception and move and work to change his situation and transform his world. Without dichtomizing relection of the world from their action in the world, students and teachers "establish an authentic form of thought and action." (71) "Problem-posing education bases itself on creativity and stimulates true reflection and acti onupon reality, thereby responding to the vocation of men as beings who are authentic only when engaged in inquirty and creative transformation." (PAULO FREIRE, PEDAGOGY OF THE OPPRESSED Herder and Herder, 1971 (original Portuguese manuscript 1968, translated by Myra Bergman Ramos 71)
Man's historical vocation is to become more fully human i.e. 'humanisation' ... depends on freedom of inquiry. Preventing the individual from inquiring is preventing him from becoming fully human, reducing him to an object and therefore is dehumanizing. It is an act of violence because it alienates the individual from his own brain-based function to think critically in order to make the decisions necessary for his own survival. Becoming fully human is dependent on critical thought, inquiry and dialogue with his world. Humanization and dialogue requires the mediation of fellow human beings and therefore fellowship and solidarity with other human beings. The concept of 'individualism' does not mean 'in isolation' from one's fellow human beings. 'Individualism' does not mean having more and dehumanizing others - the meaning which the term has acquired in capitalist countries. Solidarity and dialogue are required for humanization.