Friere and Neutral Education
Explain what Friere meant by the statement: ‘There is no such thing as a neutral education process’.
Explain what paulo Freire meant by this statement “There is no such thing as a neutral education process”
Paolo Friere (1921-1997) was a renowned educator who promoted the concept of critical pedagogy. Much of his work focused on those he considered to be ‘oppressed’ in some way, generally those who live in poverty (though this could be applied to other elements which may cause educational inequality). The central tenet of Friere’s philosophy on education is that it can never be a neutral concept. Education can either be an instrument which serves to reinforce the current system, promoting its logic and emphasising the importance of conformity to the status quo, or it can be a tool of freedom, which helps people understand how to participate in change in their world. People can either be passive recipients of knowledge, or they can engage in a problem-posing approach which allows the process of learning to become active. The former approach, in which people are treated as ‘empty vessels’, was termed ‘banking education’, and was criticised by Friere as acting to condition learners to accept the social, economic and political status quo without asking questions that may affect their standing within this. He instead advocated the problem-posing approach, in which learners and teachers alike lay bare their experiences and feelings about the world and analyse this together. The teacher is not intended to provide clear-cut answers, but to facilitate the learners’ critical thinking about the subject – in this way, the ‘oppressed’ would be equipped to challenge the ‘oppressors’ whenever the need arose, as they would be able to conceptualise change actually occurring (Friere, 1988). Ultimately, in Friere’s view, education can either be discriminatory and aimed to promote domestication, or is can be liberating and promote freedom from all forms of domination.
Freire, P. (1988). “The Adult Literacy Process as Cultural Action for Freedom and Education and Conscientization.” In Perspectives on Literacy, ed. Eugene R. Kintgen, Barry M. Kroll, and Mike Rose. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, pp. 398-409.