Philosophical and Psychological
Foundations of Education
QUOTATIONS BY PHILOSOPHER
 

PAULO FREIRE

Paulo Freire  

My Educational Philosophy
Quotations by Topic


Aristotle
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de Bary
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Excerpts from Pedagogy of Freedom

Chapter One: Introductory Reflections

I am not impartial or objective; not a fixed observer of facts and happenings. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


Teacher preparation should go beyond the technical preparation of teachers and be rooted in the ethical formation both of selves and of history. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


We should devote ourselves humbly but perseveringly to our profession in all its aspects: scientific formation, ethical rectitude, respect for others, coherence, a capacity to live with and learn from what is different, and an ability to relate to others without letting our ill-humor or our antipathy get in the way of our balanced judgment of the facts. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


A "presence" that, in recognizing another presences as "not I," recognizes its own self. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


If I am a pure product of genetic, cultural, or class determination, I have no responsibility for my action in the world and, therefore, it is not possible for me to speak of ethics. Of course, this assumption of responsibility does not mean that we are not conditioned genetically, culturally, and socially. It means that we know ourselves to be conditioned but not determined. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


Chapter Two: There is No Teaching Without Learning

Critical reflection on practice is a requirement of the relationship between theory and practice. Otherwise theory becomes simply "blah, blah, blah," and practice, pure activism. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


To teach is not to transfer knowledge but to create the possibilities for the production or construction of knowledge. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


There is, in fact, no teaching without learning. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


Whoever teaches learns in the act of teaching, and whoever learns teaches in the act of learning. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


This capacity to go beyond the factors of conditioning is one of the obvious advantages of the human person. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


One of the essential tasks of the teaching process is to introduce the learners to the methodological exactitude with which they should approach the learning process. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


The role of the educator is one of a tranquil possession of certitude in regard to the teaching not only of contents but also of "correct thinking." ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


Intellectuals who memorize everything, reading for hours on end, slaves to the text, fearful of taking a risk, speaking as if they were reciting from memory, fail to make any concrete connections between what they have read and what is happening in the world, the country, or the local community. They repeat what has been read with precision but rarely teach anything of personal value. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


The person who thinks "correctly," even if at times she/he thinks wrongly, is the only capable of teaching "correct" thinking. For one of the necessary requirements for correct thinking is a capacity for not being overly convinced of one's own certitudes. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


There is no such thing as teaching without research and research without teaching. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


I teach because I search, because I question, and because I submit myself to questioning. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


Why not establish an intimate connection between knowledge considered basic to any school curriculum and knowledge that is the fruit of the lived experience of these students as individuals? ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


Curiosity as restless questioning, as movement toward the revelation of something hidden, as a question verbalized or not, as search for clarity, as a moment of attention, suggestion, and vigilance, constitutes an integral part of the phenomenon of being alive. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


Right thinking is right doing. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


It is absurd for teachers to imagine that they are engaged in right thinking and at the same time to relate to the student in a patronizing way. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


Proper to right thinking is a willingness to risk, to welcome the new, which cannot be rejected simply because it is new no more than the old can be rejected because chronologically it is no longer new. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


Thinking correctly is . . . not an isolated act or something to draw near in isolation but an act of communication. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


In the process of the ongoing education of teachers, the essential moment is that of critical reflection on one's practice. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


It's really not possible for someone to imagine himself/herself as a subject in the process of becoming without having at the same time a disposition for change. And change of which she/he is not merely the victim but the subject. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


Sometimes a simple, almost insignificant gesture on the part of a teacher can have a profound formative effect on the life of a student. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


The gesture of the teacher affirmed in me a self-confidence that obviously still had much room to grow, but it inspired in me a belief that I too had value and could work and produce results—results that clearly had their limits but that were a demonstration of my capacity, which up until that moment I would have been inclined to hide or not fully believe in. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


What is important in teaching is not the mechanical repetition of this or that gesture but a comprehension of the value of sentiments, emotions, and desires. Of the insecurity that can only be overcome by inspiring confidence. Of the fear that can only be abated to the degree that courage takes its place. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


Chapter Three: Teaching is Not Just Transferring Knowledge

To think correctly and to know that to teach is not merely to transfer knowledge is a demanding and difficult discipline, at times a burden that we have to carry with others, for others, and for ourselves. . . . It is difficult because it demands constant vigilance over ourselves so as to avoid being simplistic, facile, and incoherent. It is difficult because we are not always sufficiently balanced to prevent legitimate anger from degenerating into the kind of rage that breeds false and erroneous thinking. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


Unfinishedness is essential to our human condition. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


[Humans'] capacity to intervene, to compare, to judge, to decide, to choose, to desist makes them capable of acts of greatness, of dignity, and, at the same time, of the unthinkable in terms of indignity. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


I like to be human because in my unfinishedness I know that I am conditioned. Yet conscious of such conditioning, I know that I can go beyond it, which is the essential difference between conditioned and determined existence. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


[Conscientization] is natural because unfinishedness is integral to the phenomenon of life itself, which besides women and men includes the cherry trees in my garden and the birds that sing in their branches. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


Education does not make us educable. It is our awareness of being unfinished that makes us educable. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


Hope is not just a question of grit or courage. It's an ontological dimension of our human condition. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


Respect for the autonomy and dignity of every person is an ethical imperative and not a favor that we may or may not concede to each other. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


It is important to be constantly vigilant and rigorously evaluate any practice in the light of common sense. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


It is impossible to talk of respect for students for the dignity that is in the process of coming to be, for the identities that are in the process of construction, without taking into consideration the conditions in which they are living and the importance of the knowledge derived from life experience, which they bring with them to school. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


The exercise of the art and practice of teaching (a specifically human art), is of itself profoundly formational and, for that reason, ethical. True, those who exercise this art and practice do not have to be saints or angels. But they ought to have integrity and a clear sense of what is right and just. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


Whether the teacher is authoritarian, undisciplined, competent, incompetent, serious, irresponsible, involved, a lover of people and of life, cold, angry with the world, bureaucratic, excessively rational, or whatever else, he/she will not pass through the classroom without leaving his or her mark on the students. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


The struggle to bring dignity to the practice of teaching is as much a part of the activity of teaching as is the respect that the teacher should have for the identity of the student, for the student himself or herself, and his or her right to be. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


How can I be an educator if I do not develop in myself a caring and loving attitude toward the student, which is indispensable on the part of one who is committed to teaching and to the education process itself. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


I can only dislike what I am doing under the pain of not doing it well. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


For us, to learn is to construct, to reconstruct, to observe with a view to changing—none of which can be done without being open to risk, to the adventure of the spirit. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


This is the road I have tried to follow as a teacher: living my convictions; being open to the process of knowing and sensitive to the experience of teaching as an art; being pushed forward by the challenges that prevent me from bureaucratizing my practice; accepting my limitations, yet always conscious of the necessary effort to overcome them and aware that I cannot hide them because to do so would be a failure to respect both my students and myself as a teacher. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


Hope is a natural, possible, and necessary impetus in the context of our unfinishedness. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom

No one can be in the world, with the world, and with others and maintain a posture of neutrality. I cannot be in the world decontextualized, simply observing life. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


What is really essential in this process is that both the teacher and the students know that open, curious questioning, whether in speaking or listening, is what grounds them mutually—not a simple passive pretense at dialogue. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


The good teacher is the one who manages to draw the student into the intimacy of his or her thought process while speaking. The class then becomes a challenge and not simply a nest where people gather. In the environment of challenge, the students become tired but they do not fall asleep. They get tired because they accompany the comings and goings of the teacher's thought and open their eyes in wonder at his or her pauses, doubts, uncertainties. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


Chapter Four: Teaching is a Human Act

Teachers who do not take their own education seriously, who do not study, who make little effort to keep abreast of events have no moral authority to coordinate the activities of the classroom. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


To decide is to break with something, and, to do this, I have to run a risk. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


I cannot be a teacher without exposing who I am. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


One of my major preoccupations is the approximation between what I say and what I do, between what I seem to be and what I am actually becoming. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


The exercise of my teaching activity does not leave me untouched. No more than I could be out in the rain with no protection and expect not to get wet. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


We must understand the meaning of a moment of silence, of a smile, or even of an instance in which someone needs to leave the room. Or the fact that a question was asked perhaps a little discourteously. After all, our teaching space is a text that has to be constantly read, interpreted, written, and rewritten. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


The perception the student has of my teaching is not exclusively the result of how I act but also of how the student understands my action. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


I cannot be a teacher and be in favor of everyone and everything. I cannot be in favor merely of people, humanity, vague phrases far from the concrete nature of educative practice. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


It's in making decisions that we learn to decide. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


One of the pedagogical tasks for parents is to make it clear to their children that parental participation in the decision-making process is not an intrusion but a duty, so long as the parents have no intention of deciding on behalf of their children. The participation of the parents is most opportune in helping the children analyze the possible consequences of the decision that is to be taken. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


Autonomy is the result of a process involving various and innumerable decisions. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


No one suddenly becomes mature at twenty-five years of age. Either we become mature with each day that passes or we do not. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


Freedom is not the absence of limits. What I have sought always is to live the tension, the contradiction, between authority and freedom so as to maintain respect for both. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


Without [silence], communication withers. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


This is the sense in which I am obliged to be a listener. To listen to the student's doubts, fears, and incompetencies that are part of the learning process. It is in listening to the student that I learn to speak with him or her. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


In their turn, good listeners can speak engagedly and passionately about their own ideas and conditions precisely because they are able to listen. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


It ought to be an integral part of our teacher preparation to discuss the qualities that are indispensable for our teaching practice, even though we know that these qualities are created by that practice itself. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


Humility cannot demand that I submit myself to the arrogance and stupidity of those who do not respect me. What humility asks of me when I cannot react appropriately to a given offense is to face it with dignity. The dignity of my silence, of my look. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


The teacher who thinks critically cannot afford to imagine that the course or seminar that she/he is conducting is going to transform the whole country. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


Only the person who listens patiently and critically is able to speak with the other, even if at times it should be necessary to speak to him or her. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


[Ideology] is directly linked to that tendency within us to cloak over the truth of the facts, using language to cloud or turn opaque what we wish to hide. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


The more I give of myself to the experience of living with what is different without fear and without prejudice, the more I come to know the self I am shaping and that is being shaped as I travel the road of life. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


The more we sit in front of [the television] . . . the more we risk being confused about the real nature of the facts. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


I feel it is necessary to overcome the false separation between serious teaching and the expression of feeling. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


It is also false to consider seriousness and joy to be contradictory, as if joy were the enemy of methodological rigor. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


I am dealing with people and not with things. And, because I am dealing with people, I cannot refuse my wholehearted and loving attention, even in personal matters, where I see that a student is in need of such attention. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


As a strictly human experience, I could never treat education as something cold, mental, merely technical, and without soul, where feelings, sensibility, desires, and dreams had no place, as if repressed by some kind of reactionary dictatorship. In addition, I never saw educative practice as an experience that could be considered valid if it lacked rigor and intellectual discipline. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom


Excerpts from Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed


There are innumerable well-intentioned bank-clerk teachers who do not realize that they are serving only to dehumanize. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed


[The humanist revolutionary educator's] efforts must be imbued with a profound trust in people and their creative power. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed


Only through communication can human life hold meaning. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed


Oppression—overwhelming control—is necrophilic; it is nourished by love of death, not life. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed


The teacher is no longer merely the-one-who-teaches, but one who is himself taught in dialogue with the students, who in turn while being taught also teach. They become jointly responsible for a process in which all grow. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed


The teacher presents the material to the students for their consideration, and re-considers her earlier considerations as the students express their own. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed


Banking theory and practice, as immobilizing and fixating forces, fail to acknowledge men and women as historical beings; problem-posing theory and practice take the people's historicity as their starting point. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed


Problem-posing education affirms men and women as beings in the process of becoming—as unfinished, uncompleted beings in and with a likewise unfinished reality. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed


No one can be authentically human while he prevents others from being so. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed


 

 

 
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