Freire’s is pedagogy in the grand style. It is a pedagogy with a mission – one appealing to teachers who have the profoundest sense of their vocation – of their calling, not just as teachers of a single subject, but as historical agents – the sort of people who, as he describes them, want to live and work with “wretched of the earth” (as opposed to just tweeting about them). Education is a process of personal change, not simply of access, acquisition and disposal. The pedagogy has nothing to say to those whose main concern is the most efficient processing of data, and the most efficient acquisition of technique, nor does it have anything to say to teachers wanting to see their students leveraging their cultural capital. He assumed the whole architecture of oppression would collapse if learners were allowed to take an active role in their education. Freire frames education as a historical mission. If there is any progress visible in history, it is a progress achieved through education, understood in its broadest sense. Education is not a means towards the end of progress; it is historical progress itself. If one epoch is an advance on the previous one, it is, to a great extent, because something vital has been understood, and that understanding has become a generalised feature of the prevailing culture. The whole of human history is one great learning project. History is a process of self-directed learning. In a sense, pedagogy on the grand scale described by Freire requires that teachers have a philosophy of history. The teacher as historical agent needs some understanding (however provisional) of what the historical task is.
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