The Freire Project

Paulo Freire (1921-1997)

“It is absolutely essential that the oppressed participate in the revolutionary process with an increasingly critical awareness of their role as subjects of the transformation.”


- Paulo Freire was born in 1921 to a middle class family in a town called Recife, which is located in Brazil.
- His father served as an officer in the military.
- His mother was a teacher.
- He was educated in the traditional catholic way by his mother.
- He attended Recife University where he studied to become a Portuguese Teacher.
- He met his wife Elza in 1944, who was also a teacher. They worked together having great influence on scholarly work, primarily among the illiterate poor.
- They had five children together.
- Elza died in 1986 and he remarried Maria Araujo Freire.
- He died of heart failure in 1997.

Paulo as an Educator
- His education focuses on the students environment. He believed students must understand their own reality as part of their learning environment.
- Freire believed that learning to read was a step toward political participation because literacy was required to vote in presidential elections. "By understanding the political dimensions of reading, Paulo Freire developed materials that enabled adults to learn to read in thirty to forty hours".
- He emphasized the need to provide native populations with an education that was new and modern.
- Wants people to think in terms of teacher-student and student-teacher- "that is, a teacher who learns and a learner who teaches- as the basic roles of classroom participation".
- Emphasized interaction with the learner.
- Ideally, Freire thought the curriculum should come directly from the people and also be prepared by them.
- Freire's work was strongly influenced by Frantz Fanon's work.

Some Accomplishments
- Appointed chair of History and Philosophy of Education for his doctoral thesis on the Teaching of Adult Illiterates around 1959.
- In 1962, he was appointed coordinator of a sponsored program which promoted adult literacy in the municipality. "It was in this context that the famous 'culture circles ' were launched".
- He became director of the National Literacy Program.
- His most important book that he wrote was Pedagogy of the Oppressed , which was completed in 1968. It also appeared as his first work in English two years later.

Critiques of the "Pedagogy of the Oppressed"
1) Dialogue- learning should involve people working with each other, rather than one person acting on another.

2) Praxis- the ability to link practice or theory to certain values.
3) Conscientization- giving hope and developing consciousness to those who do not have a voice and are oppressed.
4) Experience- using lived experiences to educate.
5) Metaphors- "the way in which the divide between teachers and learners can be transcended".