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Teachers as Cultural Workers: Letters to Those Who Dare Teach by Paulo Freire

 Paulo Freire died on May 2, 1997.

"Paulo called for commitment, political involvement, and action:  Teaching is, after all, a political act, an act of love and vision...caring is not doing-children are not taught and empowered by caring alone; children are taught by good teachers who do not abrogate their responsibility to teach, provide students with an agenda, and correct students when necessary." (pg. xxii)

"...while writing I continue to think and rethink what I had already thought before....We must remember that there is a dynamic movement between thought, language, and reality that, if well understood, results in a greater creative capacity." (pg. 2)

"...the task of the teacher, who is also a learner, is both joyful and rigorous.  It demands seriousness and scientific, physical, emotional, and affective preparation.  It is a task that requires that those who commit themselves to teaching develop a certain love not only for others but also of the very process implied in teaching.  It is impossible to teach without the courage to love, without the courage to try a thousand times before giving up.  in short, it is impossible to teach without a forged, invented, and well-thought-out capacity to love." (pg. 3)

"The teaching task also requires the capacity to fight for freedom, without which the teaching task becomes meaningless...I stress that those wanting to teach must be able to dare, that is, to have the predisposition to fight for justice and to be lucid in defense of the need to create conditions conducive to pedagogy in schools;" (pg. 4)

Teachers as Role Models--Requires 3 Basic Requirements (pgs. 6-7)
1.  The project of democracy must never be transformed into or understood as a singular or individual struggle.
2.  ...teachers should always stick together as they challenge the system so that their struggle is effective.
3.  Just as important as the first two requirements is that teachers exercise their right to demand and fight for permanent and on-going teacher preparation.

"Empowerment includes...refusal to blindly follow prepackaged educational materials produced by some experts in their offices..." (pg. 8)

Teaching in Not Coddling
"[A] teacher's capacity to struggle involves their capacity to challenge their students, from early to a more adult age, through games, stories, and reading so that students understand the need to create coherence between discourse and practice: a discourse about the defense of the weak, of the poor, of the homeless..." (pg. 15)

" is not possible to be a teacher without loving one's students...It is not possible to be a teacher without loving teaching." (pg. 15)

First Letter-Reading the World/Reading the Word

"...teachers find themselves continually ready to rethink what has been thought and revise their positions.  Their learning lies in their seeking to become involved in their students' curiosity and in the paths and streams it takes them through. (pg. 17)

"Reading of the word enables us to read a previous reading of the world." (pg. 18)

"To study is to uncover; it is to gain a more exact comprehension of an object;  it is to realize its relationships to other objects." (pg. 21)

"I would now like to return to something I referred to previously; the relationship between reading and writing, which should be understood as processes that cannot be separated." (pg. 23)

"If we think about the intimate relationship between reading, writing, and thinking and about our need to intensely experience this relationship, we might accept the suggestion that at least three times a week we should devote ourselves to the task of writing something." (pg. 25)

[There is] a need for reading also as a dialogic experience in which the discussion of the text undertaken by different readers clarifies, enlightens, and creates group comprehension of what has been read." (pg. 30)

"Nothing, or almost nothing, is done toward awakening and keeping alive children's curiosity, their consciously critical reflection, so indispensable to creative reading, reading capable of unfolding into the rewriting of the text read." (pg. 31)

"When there is enough money for one sector but not for another, the reason can only lie within the politics of spending." (pg. 36)

"Humility helps me avoid being entrenched in the circuit of my own truth.  One of the fundamental auxillaries of humility is common sense, which serves to remind us that certain attitudes may lead us too close to becoming lost." (pg. 40)

"But to the humility with which teachers perform and relate to their students, another quality need to be added: lovingness, without which their work would lose its meaning.  And here I mean lovingness not only toward the students but also toward the very process of teaching.: (pg. 40)
  "It is indeed necessary, however, that this love be an "armed love," the fighting love of those convinced of the right and duty to fight, to denounce, and to announce." (pg. 41)

"Being tolerant does not mean acquiescing to the intolerable;  it does not mean covering up disrespect; it does not mean coddling the aggresor or disguising aggression.  Tolerance is the virtue that teaches us to live with the different.  It teaches us to learn from and respect the different....Tolerance requires respect, discipline, and ethics." (pg. 42)

"I would also like to add decisiveness, security, the tension between patience and impatience, and joy of living to the group of qualities to be nourished in ourselves if we are to be progressive educators." (pg. 42)

"Noone ever decides anything without making a trade-off, weighing one thing against another, one point against another, on person against another." (pg. 42-43)

"One cannot be secure in one's actions...without at least some idea of what one does, why, and to what end.  The same is true of allegiance.  One must know or whom or what one is for or against." (pg. 43)

"None of this, however, can be realized if an educator lacks a taste for permanently seeking justice.  No one can prevent a teacher from liking one student more than another, for any number of reasons.  That is a teacher's right.  What at teacher must not do is disregard the rights of the other students in favoring one student."  (pg. 43)

"Whether or not we are willing to overcome slips or inconsistencies, by living humility, lovingness, courage, tolerance, competence, decisiveness, patience-impatience, and verbal parsimony, we contribute to creating a happy, joyful school.  We forge a school-adventure, a school that marches on, that is not afraid of the risks, and that rejects immobility.  It is a school that thinks, that participates, that creates, that speaks, that loves, that guesses, that passionately embraces and says yes to life." (pg. 45)

'Trying to escape conflict, we preserve the status quo." (pg. 45)

"And as far as making the world, our world, a better place goes, there is no need to distinguish between modest or extravagant actions.  Anything that can be done with competence, loyalty, clarity, perserverance, anything that strengthens the fight against the powers of non-love, selfishness, and evil, is equally important." (pg. 51)

"...we cannot teach content as if that were all there is.  Teachers must give creative wings to their imaginations, obviously in disciplined fashion.  From the very first day of class, they must demonstrate to students the importance of imagination for life.  Imagination helps curiosity and inventiveness, just as it enhances adventure, without which we cannot create." (pg. 51)

"...our relationship with the learners demands that we respect them and demands equally that we be aware of the concrete conditions of their world, the conditions that shape them.  To try to know the reality that our students live is a task that the educational practice imposes on us:  Without this, we have no access to the way they think, so only with great difficulty can we perceive what and how they know...Progressive educators need to convince themselves that they are not only teachers--this doesn't exist--not only teaching specialists.  We are political militants because we are teachers...Our job implies that we teach these subjects with sobriety and competence, but it also requires our involvement in and dedication to overcoming social injustice." (pg. 58)

"It is through hearing the learners, a task unacceptable to authoritarian educators, that democratic teachers increasingly prepare themselves to be heard by learners,  But by listening to and so learning to talk with learners, democratic teachers teach the learners to listen to them as well." (pg. 65)

"Educators need to know what happens in the world of the children with whom they work.  They need to know the universe of their dreams, the language with which they skillfully defend themselves from the aggressiveness of their world, what they know independently of the school, and how they know it." (pg. 73)

"In this way, to do science is to discover, to unveil truths about the world, about living beings, about things, truths that were awaiting the unveiling;  it is to give objective meaning to the new needs that, emerging from the social practice, confront women and men."  (pg. 76)

" is impossible to teach content without knowing how students think in the context of their daily lives, without knowing what they know independently of school so that we can, on the one hand, help them to know better what they already know and, on the other, teach them what they don't know yet." (pg. 78)

"How can we understand students' difficulties during the process of becoming literate without knowing what happens in their experiences at home or how much contact they have with written words in their sociocultural context?" (pg. 82)

**"Only insofar as learners become thinking subjects, and recognize that they are as much thinking subjects as are the teachers, is it possible for the learners to become productive subjects of the meaning or knowledge of the object." (pg. 89-90)