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Freire wanted education to be 'liberating'. He was opposed to passive transmission of information and condoned oppression. For him, education is 'the practice of freedom'.

The excerpt below of the book Pratiques émancipatrices. Actualités de Paolo Freire is a reflexion on the meaning of the word 'freedom'.

For an education to be truly liberating, we must ask ourselves: what does "freedom" mean?
(...) The question is important because the thinking of Freire is expressed in several languages, mainly Portuguese, English and Spanish, where these words are not necessarily indexed to the same reality, or carrying the same meaning.
According to dictionaries, freedom (from the Latin liber) is opposed to slavery and servitude by being the absence or removal of any constraint considered abnormal, illegal, and immoral. Still, we must ask the question "considered by whom?" Are there constraints, considered as normal (apartheid and segregation, for example, once they become" legal "because they are written into the constitution of a State; or the practice of services so-called public towards people suffering from exclusion or disability, once these practices become institutionalized)? However, this freedom considered as an absence of coercion is not freedom.
Etymologically, the word freedom comes from the Sanskrit priya (hence fria, free) which means dear or beloved. In old English, freon meant love, from which is derived the word friend (in German: freund), the one who is loved (it is exactly the same meaning in the word amigo).
So freedom is the state, condition, the dignity of being loved. I am free, not to the extent that I am legally autonomous and socially independent, but since I am loved. Paolo Freire was never clearer: "There is no dialogue without a deep love for the world and for mankind." And he adds: "It is not sentimentality, but an act of courage. The act of love is to jeopardize ourselves for their cause, the cause of their liberation." (Freire 2001: 74-75)

Pour qu’une éducation soit vraiment libératrice, nous devons nous demander : que veut dire « liberté » ? (…) La question est importante parce que la pensée de Freire s’exprime dans plusieurs langues, principalement Portugais, Anglais et Espagnol, où ces mots ne sont pas nécessairement indexés à la même réalité, ou porteurs du même sens.

Selon les dictionnaires, la liberté (du latin liber) s’oppose à l’esclavage et à la servitude en étant l’absence ou la suppression de toute contrainte considérée comme anormale, illégitime, immorale. Toujours est-il que nous devons poser la question « considérée par qui ? »Y a-t-il des contraintes, considérée comme normales (l’apartheid et la ségrégation, par exemple, dès qu’elles deviennent « légales », parce qu’elles sont inscrites dans la constitution d’un Etat ; ou la pratique des services dits publiques face aux personnes en situation d’exclusion ou de handicap, dès que ces pratiques deviennent institutionnalisées) ? Cependant, cette liberté considérée comme absence de contrainte n’est pas freedom.
Etymologiquement, le mot freedom vient du sanskrit priya (d’où fria, free) qui veut dire cher ou aimé. Dans l’anglais d’antan, fréon voulait dire aimer, d’où vient le mot friend (Allem. : freund) ami, celui qui est aimé (on trouve exactement le même sens dans le mot amigo).
Donc feedom est l’état, la condition, la dignité d’être aimé. Je suis libre, non pas dans la mesure où je suis juridiquement autonome ou socialement indépendant, mais dans la mesure où je suis aimé. Jamais Paolo Freire ne fut plus clair : « Il n’y a pas de dialogue sans un amour profond pour le monde et pour les hommes ». Et il ajoute : « Il ne s’agit pas de sentimentalité, mais d’un acte de courage. L’acte d’amour consiste à se compromettre pour leur cause, la cause de leur libération. » (Freire 2001 : 74-75)

Garibay Françoise, Séguier Michel et al., Pratiques émancipatrices. Actualités de Paolo Freire. Nouveau Regards, 2009

For more on Freire, see my blog Paolo Freire in English, en Français.

For more on the use of words, and of "participation" and "knowledge", in particular, see The use of words

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Comment by Marie Lamboray on October 13, 2010 at 10:58am
And how do you decide your own priorities? Through conversation with communities. “Conversation that is intentional about listening, understanding, learning and making informed choices for change” as Claire Campbell wrote to me. The communities free you and you free the communities. You meet others as human beings, unprotected by the certitudes of an expert, but free to use your own human strengths, free to reveal the strengths of others, and free to receive in return from those strengths.

Comment by Laurence Gilliot on October 9, 2010 at 7:21am
How do you see that the Community Life Competence Process provides freedom to communities?
Perhaps we stop being enslaved by 'donors priorities', to decide on our own priorities?


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