Paulo Freire was a Brazilian educator and theorist who wrote several influential books on education and society, most notably Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Though he is most well-known for the progressive theories he advanced in his works, Freire spent much of his early adulthood leading literacy campaigns within Brazil. His dedication to providing underserved individuals with the tools necessary to reach liberation is his legacy.
Paulo Freire believed in the value of a classical education in the liberal arts and sciences, but argued that most schools failed to provide such learning in an effective manner. Freire asserted that most schools instead promoted the values of the dominant class, creating a “culture of silence” where underserved individuals were deprived of the means to think critically about their role in society.
Along with his contemporaries, like John Dewey, Freire pushed teachers and administrators to reconsider their role in learning. Are students vessels, needing only to be passively filled with facts and numbers to achieve competency? Or, should they be active participants in a mutual learning process built on equality, diversity, and critical thought? It was, and still is, novel to consider students as learners and teachers.
So, why the name?
Paulo Freire’s ideas and legacy inspire us to be a different kind of school. At Freire Charter School, we believe students have much to learn and experience, but also much to teach – to each other and to our educators. This growth begins in the classroom and continues through the hallways and into our community. The students of Freire Charter School carry the responsibility of their scholarship along with administrators, teachers, support staff, and parents. We believe that this holistic approach, which values autonomy, equity, and community, honors the legacy of Paulo Freire.