Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I've Got the Power

In this interview with Gary Olson, Paulo Freire describes how the authority and "arrogance" of the teacher interferred in his learning by causing inhibition. Similarly, I can recall not grasping concepts in school because I didn't have the courage to put up my hand and ask, perhaps because I was insecure or perhaps because it would insult them by showing they hadn't explained it well enough. After all, the silence of the other students made it seem that they had all understood.

Freire drives home the point that the teacher must be mindful of the student's context (ie, subjectivity) and must take every opportunity to encourage curiosity. In so doing, he states that the teacher's duty to teach and have authority must remain but without "such power that it crushes freedom". 

At the risk of sounding like 'Daddy's little girl", I must admit that my dad did this better than the teachers in class who intimidated me; turns out, he was (is) a great educator. Conversations every night at the dinner table would inevitably lead to questions which my dad would answer with "look it up". After much protesting, and his unwavering insistence that someone run for the dictionary or encyclopedia to find the answer, one of my siblings or I would read up about the topic or find the definition of the word. The continued discussion and trial-and-error use of this information within the safety of our home/family led to knowledge that could then be applied to our outside lives. How empowering is that? He taught us to take control of our learning and use it within our family network before taking it out into the world. I am sure that his example has also played a big part in my curiosity about things and in my desire to be a lifelong learner.

Technology gives us the tools to sit around the table (so-to-speak) with a network of others and gives a whole new and larger meaning of the words "look it up". Curiosity doesn't actually kill the cat; rather, in a connectivist networked setting, it can create in even the most anti-social of cats, a sense of conviviality that would make Ivan Illich proud.

And now, be inspired (as you likely were on a dancefloor in the early 90s) to know that you really do have the power.



  1. Debbie,
    Your dad reminds me of mine in his approach to educating children. I don’t recall ever getting any answers from my dad:) He either pointed me in a direction of a book or said ‘look it up’. Being forced to find solutions on my own turned me into a self-directed learner; however, when I join organized courses, e.g. #cck11, I don’t feel like taking initiative at all. What’s wrong with me?

  2. Can't see this video its blocked in the UK. Like the text though.

  3. Yep, you are 100% correct. Technology have gave us all amazing tools to be more educated, you cannot even compare it to how our parents and their parents had to do the most simple tasks like school work.