To define what education is, Paulo Freire has analyzed how the school systems work in almost all institutions, to end up with the conclusion that education that is given to students does not fit with its definition. Although people do not agree on a single definition of education, it has been agreed by most thinkers and philosophers that education is a way to teach student how to think rather than telling them what to think. That is the source of enlightenment, and thus the start of progress. Progress happens when people are educated. However, are people taught in the proper way? And what is the proper way to educate?
Freire accuses teachers of oppression. They dominate the minds of the students and teach them how to be followers more willingly than how to be masters of their own footsteps. Or in other words, students learn alienation; the desire to resemble to someone else who is most of the time successful in his or her life. The student wants to take this person’s life, to own everything that person owns, ending to be someone who has no identity and more importantly, someone who has no creative ideas. We cannot blame people for wanting to be successful in their lives since that is the one thing that all citizens recognize: successful figures.
So, to survive in the world, each of us has to have an education which will promote him or her with the job that will guarantee the summit. The parents – who already took that path and who influence a great part of their children’s education since most of them are the teachers in the schools – impose that kind of life to their children, for example, when they make comparison between their child and other person’s child who is a good student and who is obviously for them the model their child should follow. So, education feeds the alienation that I mentioned before.
The student thinks that in order to progress, he has to take everything he is taught for granted, but is he progressing? For Freire, to progress, the student must be free. He must think autonomously inside the classroom and once confronted to the outside world. However, in schools that is not what teachers teach their students. The teacher shapes the student as if it was a product to be delivered at the end of the process. And is it the perfect product an employer can get? As long as he or she is doing the work he or she is demanded without asking questions, he or she is a good product, as formed in school.
A developed country is valued to the degree to which its citizens are educated, means to which degree it is progressing. Most of the time, underdeveloped countries think that to progress they have to follow the footsteps of the developed countries in every domain (technology, studies, industry and so on). For this sake, they look for the success of their students in schools, still the school systems is not doing what it should. For Freire, you learn by intervening in the world, means you look to explore and to actively teach yourself.
However, Institutions, in which teachers are aware of this previous fact, do not prepare students for the world. Freire suggests that the education should change, especially the narrative education where the teacher is always talking and transmitting his knowledge to the student who is passive and only absorbing. Things should be different; there must be a dialog between the two parts, there must be an interaction and a transmission of knowledge from the teacher to the student, and from the student to the teacher.
This way, rather than only narrating, the teacher can get to know how the student can understand matters, and consequently, they can communicate better. It will be beneficial for both of them; it will be easy to teach and to learn efficiently. So, to create such environment in the classroom, the instructor needs: love, humility and hope. Paulo stated clearly, that the teacher must love his students so to be able to respect them by assuming that they are capable of learning, and to be able to share with them his knowledge.
The teacher must accept the fact that he can learn from the student too. And the teacher must always have hope that students can learn from him and teach him in reverse. So, the education for Freire is a sort of collaboration where you do not have the answers but where you learn to ask questions. Once you begin to find the answers to your questions, your mind is activated, and you keep going this way: asking and seeking for answers. However, a person should be persistent in his knowledge path trying not to get backed down by the negative answer he got from people.
We have for an example, the teacher who answers: “if you do not stop asking questions, how can you learn? ”. This leads to the death of education since the student will get a wrong concept of what is learning. Hence, how countries expect to progress if they do not teach the young population enlightenment? Youth should learn how to question authority and how to be different from the others in an autonomous way or as George Bernard Shaw said: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.
All progress, therefore, depends upon the unreasonable man. ” You seem unreasonable to the others because you seek for other answers than those given and taken for granted by people. But, this is how progress happens. Progress, depending on what Paulo says, will not occur if the education does not change, which is something that all of us should be aware of. Narrative education is the worst education someone can get because his identity is suffocated by what he is absorbing from class, and also because he was taught from his childhood that what is said by the professor is always the truth.
And minds which adapt themselves to this idea would never go outside the box; they will never see what is really going on in the world. All the concepts learned, all the information transmitted, all the events occurring in the present moment, all these should be analyzed carefully by young minds. We should go back to the early times where great minds had the courage to raise important questions and did not stop until the correct answers were found or until they got killed. I name Einstein, Galilee, Freud, Plato, and the list stills long!
Due to the contribution of all those thinkers, the world had progressed considerably. So, the solution given by Paulo is obviously the best one. The school system had to change education; instead of teaching us what others had found, they have to teach us how they found it. And this is applicable to underdeveloped countries. Instead of following other countries’ path and tying themselves to developed countries by loans they know they will never pay back unless they become autonomous in all domains.
Education should go for some changes in order to progressively arrive to this wanted result. It should start by the primary schools where, by nature, children are always asking for questions. There, professors – who must be only companions and not leaders in the student journey of learning-, should teach them how to think about things. And progressively, the child will be growing with his own ideas about what is going on around him; his mind is on since his childhood. So, autonomous learning and thinking are the keys to the progress every country is dreaming of.