Posts Tagged ‘liberating education’

The crux of the matter: WHAT IS LIBERATING EDUCATION?


Consider the three children in the theme photo once more:  They don’t know it yet but they are on an educational path that is powerful in awakening their curiosity and sense of self-confidence–a path of liberating education that deserves to be better known and practiced.  In brief, liberating education inspires students who understand themselves to be oppressed to have such perspectives in their learning and skills–and confidence in themselves–that as they mature, they will demand human rights/justice for themselves and for others.  Such learners understand themselves to be change agents working for a just world and they take satisfaction, at times joy, in doing that work. Continue reading

“Not in our wildest imagination!–full education for our children?”


These three first graders were obviously enjoying their studies enough to stay in from recess to continue their learning.  Reaching back a few years to a time before the village was settled in 1970, the community’s future founding generation could not have imagined such a picture of excited happiness about learning on the part of their children.  To test that idea I asked one of the founders, “imagine when you were working in the plantation fields as indentured servants/slaves a prophet appeared like a ghost of the future to tell you that one day all of your children would be educated through the middle school level and a very substantial number would graduate from high school, with a significant group continuing on to university studies.  What would you have thought?”  He said without hesitation, “We would have had no idea what to think.  It was beyond our wildest imagination!”  What makes this account so significant is that right up into the 1960’s the founders of Santa María Tzejá were land-poor or landless compesinos–peasant farmers–who were nearly all illiterate.  Many had never set foot in a school and in their childhoods had hardly known what education was.  The men were trapped by their own families’ survival needs in a kind of slavery to the country’s owners of massive cane, cotton and coffee plantations during the harvest season.  Further, as indigenous people they were a despised population, not capable or worthy of any education.  They were thought fit only for hard manual labor and were appropriate subjects for terrible abuse.  Yet, within a relatively short span of years they would experience what would previously been imagined by them as an educational miracle for their children.  This is a remarkable story described in the book.

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Seeds of Freedom: Liberating Education in Guatemala–third weekly post on my new book

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. Continue reading