Reflection Paper on the Education Approaches of Paulo Freire and Reimers

June 22, 2022 by Essay Writer

In a constantly moving world, our lives are moving at the pace of text, a trending tweet, and social media stories. This generation, generation z, has come a long way from the baby boomers. Gone are the reminders of the world wars and sluggish growth, we have bid adieu to limitations, challenged our pre-set narratives and led a fiery revolution of change. Set in the new era, we are the drivers of chaos and peace. We are bound to be the next leaders, the next hard-working class, the highly sophisticated yet simple generation. The pressure is insurmountable to be constantly better, to be constantly pushing for greatness. In the grand scheme of being all of those things at once, leading a student life is incredibly hard. Either in university or high school, we are rushing off to the next class, on top of our social lives, and involved in hundreds of extracurricular events. As such, reflecting on small moments of impact is crucial. For me, this paper is an expression of my thoughts and opinions with the basis formed critically on the observations made during the Diplomacy in the Americas program.

In discussions about Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, a great deal was talked about the opposition against the banking approach – where students just store information as relayed by the teacher – and how the adoption of such a method would be incredibly devasting for the development of students. Even amongst college students, consensus over adopting a more ‘in the action, in the moment’ proposition took lead due to personal interpretation of our earlier childhood school years. Freire’s use of dialogue and theory being formed in praxis can be seen as weapons that break the shackles of society. To me, they are modern tools to disarm our closed borders, our crises and hate. Going through the discussion board of my peers, it was interesting to see how the relations between an oppressor and the oppressed are widely distinctive. Each wrote about their own quests of freedom; many wrote about the revolutions of our elderly and the stories of histories that we know by heart that form our understanding of what liberation, freedom and being human is. Freire beautiful says,

‘The oppressed have been destroyed precisely because their situation has reduced them to things. In order to regain their humanity, they must cease to be things and fight as men and women. This is a radical requirement. They cannot enter the struggle as objects in order later to become human beings.’ Tying it to our lives, this quote catches the essence of existence every day, because humanity- it is in the small act of rebelling against the alarm clock, it is in the freedom to choose which coffee to order, it is even in procrastinating to write an assignment. The arguments about his liberation theology reminded me to see life as a continuous cycle we try hard to break from. In applying his work to interactions with students, I have worked on forming a friendly student-mentor relation than a more formal setting. Moving beyond hierarchy, in my mind, the high school student is an equal partner. I believe it is the first step to embracing and opening conversations with this thought. So far, I have enjoyed talking to my partner. We both fell into ease as the conversation centered around introductions. The ice breaker activity, an interactive teaching method I think Freire would have approved of, certainly helped – it was interesting for both us to talk over my history of surfing, living in the United States in contrast to her daily school days.

Exploring Democracy

During the rest of the class, the concept of democracy was highly debated amongst our group. Democracy’s ancient roots can be traced back to Ancient Greece, which was a loose collection of poleis (plural, means city in Greek). The Greek word démokratia conjoins kratos, a term for power and demos, as a term for ‘the people’. Yet, I believe, the relationship between people and their community has always been open to interpretation. With slavery, it means being a property owner and hence, also being a citizen of that community. Roman democracy was built on such foundations, but citizenship was granted based on birth; similarly, the Italians had ‘constitutional oligarchies’ with the nobility and land-owners constituting under the title of citizenship. However, due to persisting wars, these regimes saw the rise of authoritarianism in the form of princes, soldiers, and monarchs. The 19th and 20th century saw the rise of representative democracy as factions grew stronger and the post-war order bought independence as well as became associated with the spread of ideals of equality, freedom, and rights. The transition to a new form of democracy is seen with the rise of movements and wars as well as the outlaying of women. With a push for recognition, the relations also became more complex. In a way, the political, personal, and economic ties blurred to build the concept of democracy- which in the contemporary world has meant as belonging to the state, community and the world. A similar concept can be applied to Latin American states. In the Freedom House activity, Chile was our assigned country. Despite having a good score and being one of the most recent democratic states in the region, its brutal history of the 1973 coup d’état that put General Pinochet and his regime in power is still remembered.

Interestingly, Pedagogy of the Oppressed was finished by Freire while being in Chile from 1964-69, Holst (2006) explores the influence of Chilean socio-political economical on his ideological evolution. His conclusions relate to how the conducive environment led to Freire’s growing involvement in revolutionary movements and incorporating elements of Marxist theories in his work. Incorporating my partner’s knowledge of Chilean history, my work in democratic studies and Freire (whose own work integrate various principles of equality, freedom) we came to a single assured conclusion that democracy is constantly shifting, being malleable based on the historic time it is in. This presents itself as a conundrum to anyone trying to narrow down the meaning of democracy- it will be firstly, a mammoth of a task and lastly, the only acceptable, fair conclusion will be that it is all of the things we can envision it to be, all the practices that outline what it is not, and all the determination and beliefs it has been. Relating the educational methods to the interactions with my partner, I highly encouraged her to look beyond the author’s perspective (never accepting anything at face value) and to challenge everything she reads. By asking counterfactual questions and a little guidance, she explained things from the way she critically perceived them, and I got the opportunity to put forth my opinions with clarity and simplicity.

Uplifting Development

The next week was another exciting week to look forward to. Development has been a controversial topic in Latin America with the theories of dependency and modernization bearing the brunt of the region’s decreased growth potential. This is reflected in class discussions as well, not only are the economic factors hard to grasp initially, they are incredibly hard to measure and capture. As a budding economist, these variables are my only constants, familiarity with indicators allowed me to better explain the aspects of economic development to my partner. She inferred Cardoso and Faletto (1979)’s arguments well into the class discussion and was able to approach this class with a global outlook. I believe, in this case, Reimers’s reading has been incredibly useful. His ideas about changing with the cosmopolitan era and being a ‘global citizen’ are pivotal to world development. Aligning with the United Nations sustainable development goals 2030, the world needs more encouragers with faith in open nations, humanity, and kindness. Development, similar to democracy, is open to several thinking pathways: its approach can be social, human, security, health, economic and most importantly, global.

A topic that my partner and I briefly touched on was how neoliberal policies are often responsible for dehumanizing emotions (something that can be seen in the context of Chile and other Latin American states) – Brown (2015) very bleakly predicts that as humans, we are moving from Homo Erectus to homo economicus which are eroding our democratic imaginaries. Driven by economic uncertainties, I relate personally to Brown. Drawing symbolically to generation z, our GPAs measure our potential of securing a job after graduation, our offer letter and median salary are a product of ‘return on investment’ of our college tuition. In this dream of a world, we just end up as dots and numbers on a sheet instead of becoming desperate advocators of passion and sentiment. In a short time that I have experienced in the classroom, I have come to welcome beliefs and accommodating opinions which have transformed my view of point. Reading Freire and Reimers has led us to acknowledge that a need for distinctive approaches to the new world is needed. After all, we are the next pioneers, the pristine generation and the perfect adults, however, I also believe that we are determined entrepreneurs, stout believers in each other and, strong promoters of love and acceptance. The warmth of tomorrow that we experience today is because we are always trying.

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