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GAIAN DEMOCRACY

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In 2002/3 John Jopling and I wrote

Gaian Democracies:

Redefining Globalisation and People-Power

This site introduces its key ideas and some associated topics

Ingredient 4: PAULO FREIRE'S LEARNING PRINCIPLES

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Roy Madron 2005

Leading the Gaian Revolution: Commonsense for Desperate Times

INTRODUCTION

Gaian Democracies: Redefining Globalisation & People-Power by Roy Madron & John Jopling
Summary


Roy Madron: Biography

Radio Interview with Jane Taylor, from Resonance FM

Email address: rm(at)gaiandemocracy.net

Key propositions:

  • Dialogue liberates; monologue oppresses.
  • The best way to start learning is as part of a dialogue-rich group.
  • The richest learning begins with action, is shaped by reflection and leads to further action.

The influence of the Brazilian educationalist Paulo Freire in Latin America and Africa has been enormous. Working originally in the state education system, Freire conceived and developed adult literacy programmes whose purpose was to assist the poorest people to learn to read and write through helping them to respect their own everyday language. Freire insisted that the function of education was to build on the language, experiences and skills of the ‘educatees’, rather than imposing on them the culture of the ‘educators’.

Freire took education out of the classroom and created ‘the culture circle’, where learners used their own ways of speaking to articulate their shared understanding of how their world came to be like it was and how to act to change their future. From being a monologue process, education became a process of dialogue in which educatees and educators engaged in mutually respectful learning. Through the culture circles process, people progressed very quickly: in Brazil illiterate adults learned to read and write in 30 hours; and in Nicaragua illiteracy was reduced from 40% to 13% in two months.i Freire pointed out that the astounding results achieved by the culture circles were a consequence of offering literacy as a tool through which groups, rather than individuals, could be empowered. In culture circles, everyone makes good progress, not just a few isolated ‘star-pupils’.

In 1979 Freire became directly involved in politics and helped to build the Brazilian Workers’ Party into the highly effective political movement it is today. His emphasis on the crucial connection between theory and practice can be seen in the way in which the party’s mayors introduce radical initiatives like the Participative Budget. From the very poorest to the richest of citizens, they are engaged in a group learning process that will transform their understanding of themselves, each other, their community and the world around them.

A core component of Freirian theory is that learning begins with action, is then shaped by reflection, which gives rise to further action. Learning is thus a continuous process, directed at enhancing the learners’ capacity to act in the world and change it. For Freire, whether it is called literacy or learning, this is the principal political task of any society committed to people-power.

In Freire’s terms, learning based on group dialogues is liberating for everyone involved in the process. By contrast, teaching based on individual monologues in an imposed language leads to silence and apathy, and is the ultimate form of oppression. In his analysis of the dynamics of power, Freire reserves the term ‘oppressed’ for those whose own voices are silenced because they are forced to speak with a voice that is not their own: “The oppressed are not only powerless, but reconciled to their powerlessness, perceiving it fatalistically, as a consequence of personal inadequacy or failure. The ultimate product of highly unequal power relationships is a class unable to articulate its own interests or perceive the existence of social conflict.” ii

 


GAIAN SYSTEMSLIBERATING LEADERSHIPPARTICIPATORY SYSTEMS CHANGEPAULO FREIRE'S LEARNING PRINCIPLESSHARED PURPOSES AND PRINCIPLES SOFT SYSTEMS


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NOTE: THE UPDATE OF THIS SITE WILL TAKE UNTIL AUGUST 2008 TO COMPLETE

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Roy Madron 2008

 

Ingredient 4: PAULO FREIRE'S LEARNING PRINCIPLES