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Networks explicitly inspired by Paolo Freire are concerned with the meaning of words, as similar words may be used very differently and have diverse meanings. The Constellation shares that concern.

For instance, when Marijo and her team constructed our website in Spanish, she did not translate the English website, but rethought our whole content in their own language.

To facilitate our collective learning on the Life Competence Process, Phil invites us to think further about the words we use.
In his blog Some thoughts from last week, he encourages the Constellation to develop its “skills at articulating the strengths of communities”.
In A reflection on the T in SALT, he gives his thoughts on transformation.
With his forum SALT: where does it begin and where does it end? , he gives the opportunity to everyone to express his or her notion of SALT.

The book Pratiques émancipatrices. Actualités de Paolo Freire offers reflexions on the use of words, on their meaning in different languages (French, Spanish and Portuguese) and on their diverse applications. It was authored by the Cercle des pédagogies émancipatrices, a network of “workers, researchers and project animators in the field of social development and education, which had all been inspired by Freire’s thinking or had met him in person”.

For instance, you’ll find below their thoughts on the words “participation” and “knowledge”.

Participation p.68
Paradoxically, when a group or community (...) is partner and actor in all phases of the project, we tend not to talk about participation but autonomy, self determination and partnership.
Paradoxalement, quand un groupe ou une communauté (…) est interlocuteur et acteur dans toutes les phases du projet, on a tendance à ne plus parler de participation mais d’autonomie, d’autodétermination et de partenariat.

Three different kinds of knowledge p.134
"Academic and theoretical knowledge have socially recognized power. This type of knowledge can be liberating by its power of elucidation and explanation. It can allow action, help to make choices, but it also has a power of oppression and exclusion. When it does not recognize the powers of experience and action, it imposes itself as the only description of the world. In a process of "crossing" of knowledge, theoretical knowledge is no longer perceived as the imposed standard. It can be criticized.

Existential knowledge and experience are not recognized socially but they also have a liberating power, they can judge the usefulness of theoretical knowledge and accuracy of action. They are liberating because they give values, an orientation of life. They ask questions to resolve with the help of other knowledge. Finally, they motivate us to act and commit ourselves together. They can also be alienating: if they are not connected to other knowledge, they produce a confinement into a living environment. The relationship with knowledge of experience is also transformed. The knowledge of experience need to be thoughtful, formalized, analyzed to construct research projects, action and existence.

Knowledge of action and commitment are a means of recognition of others, they operate links between theoretical knowledge and life experience; it is their liberating power that produces social change, socio-cultural and political. They may also have a power of confinement. If not connected to life, they become activism. They are a mine to explore, confront and clarify, in order to question the two other types of knowledge.”

« Les savoirs académiques et théoriques ont un pouvoir reconnus socialement. Ils peuvent être libérateurs par leur pouvoir d’élucidation et d’explication. Ils permettent d’agir, de faire des choix, mais ils ont aussi un pouvoir d’oppression et d’exclusion. Lorsqu’ils ne reconnaissent pas les pouvoirs d’expérience et d’action, ils s’imposent alors comme la seule description du monde. Dans une démarche de «croisement » des savoirs, les savoirs théoriques ne sont plus perçus comme des normes qui s’imposent. Ils peuvent être critiqués.

Les savoirs existentiels et d’expérience sont peu reconnus socialement, mais ils ont aussi un pouvoir libérateur : ils permettent de juger l’utilité des savoirs théoriques et la justesse des savoirs d’action. Ils sont libérateur parce qu’ils donnent des valeurs, une orientation de vie. Ils posent des questions à résoudre avec l’aide des autres savoirs. Enfin, ils nous motivent pour agir et nous engager ensemble. Ils peuvent aussi être aliénants: s’ils ne sont pas reliés aux autres savoirs, ils produisent un enfermement dans un milieu de vie. Le rapport aux savoirs d’expérience est aussi transformé. Les savoirs d’expérience demandent à être réfléchis, formalisés, analysés pour construire des projets de recherche, d’action et d’existence.

Les savoirs d’action et d’engagement sont des moyens de reconnaissances des autres, ils opèrent des liaisons entre les savoirs théoriques et les savoirs vécus, c’est leur pouvoir libérateur qui produit un changement social, socioculturel et politique. Ils peuvent aussi avoir un pouvoir d’enfermement. S’ils ne sont pas reliés à la vie, ils deviennent de l’activisme. Ils sont une mine à explorer, à confronter, à expliciter, pour interroger les deux autres types de savoirs. »

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.

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Comment by Laurence Gilliot on October 9, 2010 at 7:27am
It is that 'existential knowledge' or wisdom that we are looking for in communities when we connect local responses. We all have experiences and we are all unique combinations of hundreds of experiences. Therefore we are all unique...

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