Comparison Of The Philosophical Principles Of Paulo Freire And Jean Jacques Rousseau

June 22, 2022 by Essay Writer


What is meant by Foundations of Education

The foundations of education, is the process of education. It allows one to understand the historical, social, and philosophical aspects of learning. Over the years, philosophers have given their thoughts on how one should teach a classroom and too this day, multiple philosophies are used in such environments.

Why does one learn philosophies in education?

  1. To understand what philosophy applies to a subject matter.
  2. To understand what works best amongst your students.
  3. To effectively teach students.

Some known philosophies are:

  • Idealism – ideas, mind is the reality.
  • Realism – reality is separate from the realm of mind.
  • Pragmatism – practical gives practical ideas
  • Existentialism – freedom of one to discover their own reality and existence.

In this essay, I will focus on the works of philosophers Pablo Freire and Jean Jacques Rousseau, and their impact on Trinidad and Tobago’s educational system.

Philosopher Pablo Freire

Pablo Reglus Neves Freire, born 1921, in Brazil, was considered one of the greatest educators of our time. He became a lawyer and developed a system of education for all levels. Throughout his life, he was exiled and imprisoned for this system of education, being called, “revolutionary” and “arrogant”. He traveled to many different countries, but returned to Brazil to study his country’s history, which he influenced industrial workers to also do.

Though born to a middle-class family, which his family failed to uphold, he was interested in the education of poor people in his area. Born a Catholic, he was very involved in the church. He started his teaching career in secondary school as a Portuguese language teacher. He was also a part of a sub –unit of education of the World Council of Churches, where at functions he became an educational advisor to third world governments. Pablo’s influences were professor Rui Barbosa and medical doctor Carneiro Ribeiro.

His fundamentals for his system are a process that focuses on the learning environment of the students. He believes one should understand his own reality as part of their learning activity. If given a sentence, “Jack kicked the ball”, one should understand who Jack is, who made the ball and who profits from this entire situation to fully understand the sentence. When working with children, he involved the parents as much as possible because their social and family environment to him, had a big part to play in a child’s education. He also noted, that a child’s nutrition and health had a huge impact on their learning ability, which only a parent could solve.

He also describes, in one of his writings, “Pedagogy of the oppressed”, that an oppressed person is constantly fighting within themselves, for liberation, and due to this can sway ones thinking in such a way to become the oppressor themselves. This he says, has an impact on the leaning ability of a human. Therefore, we have as humans, to break out of this type of thinking and human interaction

In 1959, Pablo introduced “parliamentarization of participants”, which is the “Pablo Freire Technique”, involving people in study groups, action groups, round-table discussions, debates and use of flash cards as a way of progressive education and learning.

He is also one, who believes in democracy and says it could only be accomplished by trying it. He also encouraged students to be involved in political activities, as he believed it would lead to a brighter and better Brazil. At the time, Brazil’s population was as he called it “illiterate” and had no understanding of political and social issues. This he sought to change and made changes to his method to adapt to those persons.

These additions to his method were as follows; educators were to observe students to understand where students are consciously, an arduous search for generative words and themes took place at two levels: syllabic richness, and a high degree of experiential involvement, to help the silent to become makers of their own culture by bringing words to images, teaching man the difference between him and animal, (anthropological concept of culture), people were no longer to degrade themselves but also look at themselves as makers of their own destiny, also developing terms and words that a non-conventional educator or educatee could decipher and understand.

In Brazil after this was developed, had a major positive effect on the illiterate society, making them educated. His works also had effects in Latin America, Africa, Europe and North America. However, some consider his works only to affect a class of people being the oppressed, seeing that he based his work on his people of Brazil and their conscious status.

Philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau

Born in Geneva, in 1712, was a man of many talents and intellect. He was a priest, musician, music copyist and a teacher. His earliest education came from his father till the age of ten, with the influence of Plutarch.

Rousseau believing in a creator, and said that humans are good by nature and that a corrupt society alters one’s thinking. He states that humans also yearn for a type of self-love, tending to their needs for food, warmth and shelter. Also, humans tend to show affection to one another and animals. However, he distinguishes us from the animal saying that we seek freedom and perfectibility, meaning not depending on appetite and seeking to learn new ways to fulfill needs. He also talks about human aspects that will be further explained as follows.

Morality and freedom

Rousseau says that a human who becomes self-conscious acts from a perspective of love, justice and morality. We attend to our affairs and seek the well-being of others in our social environment. This is called our conscience and this is what drives our morality. He also applies these attributes of general morality to God’s plan. He also based a lot of his work around everyone being able to have freedom and liberty, saying that humans should have choice, which distinguishes us from animal. This he says, could only be achieved by general will.

The idea of general will

General will is where everyone as a whole makes ideas and pursue these ideas collective in a society. He says however, that this is very hard to accomplish because today society has poor and rich, which cognitively the rich will try to impose their will onto others. He also implies that one’s who are educated would also try to impose their will on those who are not, which today we can see happens worldwide.

Laws he says has to be made to be followed by all and not some, this will also bring order. The legislator of these laws also cannot be into their own self-interest.


Jean believes that people should not be subject to hand over their ruling of oneself to a body who makes laws and decisions for a society. He says that this should be done by the people also having a form of involvement in the decreeing of these laws and legislation. Else, this becomes a form of slavery.

Religion and law

Jean believed in a supreme being and the afterlife. Atheists he says should be thrown out of state, which some disagree with, which clashes with his freedom of choice. He says that laws have to be made to have a well order society and the government should not question people of their religion.

Education and Language

A child should start by being thought skills and knowledge by a teacher and a curriculum, in a controlled environment, but not restrict or restrain the child from his/ her own learning capability. This first stage is infancy and goes up to the age of 12. In this stage the child is given controlled context, by not told what to think and allowed to explore. The child also must not be dependent on parental guidance in their learning environment. From age 12 to adulthood, students should become more practical and apply practical knowledge. Then, around the age of adulthood, teachers should become students advisors and not manipulate or control the environment. The tutor should also help the student to restrain oneself from affairs of opposite sex.

Comparison of the two Philosophers

Pablo focused more on the oppressed and ensuring that the child’s social and well- being is considered as a factor in a human’s education. He also focused on educating the “illiterate’ and disagreed heavily with the banking educational system. He also introduced group working philosophies. Jean however focused on a teacher student relationship using curriculum and controlled environment. He also proclaimed that people can govern themselves. Both however, believed in the people being able to have involvement in social and political matters.

Their influence on Trinidad and Tobago’s education

In our educational system they both have influenced it to a point, where all these educational ideas are applied even to teachers in their workshops. These ideas of group work and curriculum starts from as early as pre-school and thought to teachers to apply in their everyday job.


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