Can theory help us see how education can liberate in powerful new ways?

The three first-grade children from the remote village of Santa María Tzeja in Guatemala, shown here, don’t study theory, but theory can help us understand why they chose to stay in the classroom while their classmates were playing outside in their recess period.  No knock here on recess.  Kids this age learn a lot of what they need while they play and their bodies crave exercise.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut something had been happening in the learning atmosphere of the classroom that bubbled over for these three that was so enjoyable that they wanted to keep at what had turned on their curiosity.

When I began to think about writing the book, I asked myself what kind of idea framework–theory–would make a book fascinating and useful for readers around the world?  I was already very familiar with the people and story of the village stemming from my first visit in 1985 and publishing  an earlier book that took the village as a case study of refugee return issues.  From that experience it came to be obvious that the theory framework of the book would be “liberating education,” which I signaled in the sub-title of the book. The theory framework came from the man I took as my mentor, Paulo Freire, a well-known Brazilian educator who shaped his ideas in helping illiterate peasants learn to read and write.  Freire’s ideas are spelled out most powerfully for me in his classic work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed.  As I interviewed people over the next years and observed the development of the village I came to see just how applicable that theory was to developments in the village.  But I also recognized how important it could be to education in the United States and elsewhere.  It seeks to develop students who see themselves as change agents in building an oppression-free world is introduced in the first chapter and plumbed in more depth in the second chapter.  it then serve as the light that illuminates the development of a very progressive form of education in the village.

I invite you to leave a comment below.

This is the second weekly post describing my new book, Seeds of Freedom: Liberating Education in Guatemala.

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Janis Cripe on January 23, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    Hi Clark,

    I just read this and I think this idea is important too. I like your picture on your web page too. We are getting ready to leave for SF Sunday. Had planned to leave Monday, but supposedly a storm is headed here that day. Will be gone a week. (hopefully) Jerry’s brother is in very bad shape in Indiana and sounds like he won’t make it long. Has congestive heart failure and other things so that could change our plans. Love, Janis


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