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Last Update: 09-Oct-2005 10:27:09 am


Teachers As Cultural Workers : Letters to Those Who Dare Teach


Paulo Freire


Westview Press







5500 Central Avenue, Boulder, Colorado 80301-2877 12 Hid's Copse Road, Cumnor Hill, Oxford OX2 9JJ





In Teachers as Cultural Workers, Freire speaks directly to teachers about the lessons learned from a lifetime of experience as an educator and social theorist. No other book so cogently explains the implications for classroom practice of Freire's latest ideas and the pathbreaking theories found in Pedagogy of the Oppressed and other treatises. This book challenges all who teach to reflect critically on the meaning of the act of teaching as well as the meaning of learning. Freire shows why a teacher's success depends on a permanent commitment to learning and training, as part of an ongoing appraisal of classroom practice. By observing the curiosity of students and the manner through which students develop strategies for learning, the teacher is helped in discovering doubts, successes, and the teacher's mistakes. When teachers open themselves to recognize the different roads students take in order to learn, they will become involved in a continual reconstruction of their own paths of curiosity, opening the doors to habits of learning that will benefit everyone in the classroom. In the foreword by Donaldo Macedo and Ana Maria Araujo Freire, Freire's work is historicized as a revolutionary pedagogy that spread around the world. This is a good explanation for those unfamiliar with Freire's work. The Editors' Preface becomes a bit more esoteric in addressing the modern educational fancy for critical thinking skills and warning against the laundering of the politics from Freire's work: his was a revolutionary (and quite directive) task. During the rest of the book (an introduction and ten letters to teachers), Freire is in some ways summarizing a lifetime of work in the area of education as the practice of freedom from the very important point of view of the teacher. In this book, he focuses on the issues that teachers face in their classrooms, between colleagues, with parents, and in relation to their administration and teacher's efforts to do more than simply communicate information. In a rare moment in the book, Freire gives an explicit direction about an activity for teachers to become culture workers: taking notes about their classes. This ethnographic work sets the teacher up as the learner who constructs curriculum with the students. Similarly, the teacher can involve the entire community. In so doing, the teacher becomes more than a "coddling mother," a definition that Freire hates; the teacher becomes a cultural worker--taking in all of the activities of the community--that creates an educational plan with the community that will help all involved to unveil and know their community and the larger world.




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