I forget where in Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed activism and verbalism come into play, but it’s an idea that has remained with me since reading it in History of Higher Education last year. According to Freire, praxis is putting into action certain behaviors after critically reflecting on the world as we know it. Freire eventually dives deeper into this idea, specifically referring to activism and verbalism. These two isms immediately stood out to me last year because I felt that a lot of educators could fall under these two categories, but rarely did it seem that they were practicing both (myself included). For authentic praxis to occur, there must be both verbalism and activism. This means that one is acting after thorough reflection and after discussion. Often times, people get wrapped up into one – just thinking about/talking about solving an issue, or taking action without much thought. How can we do both as educators, and help students do the same? (All while avoiding oppressive acts of dehumanizing learners, which we may do subconsciously.)
Maybe the answer is realizing that we have a “hidden brain”. As Shankar Vedantam explains in “How ‘The Hidden Brain’ Does The Thinking For Us”, we develop biases at a young age, and we don’t necessarily do so with animosity or hatred. Instead, these biases develop from what we observe around us, whether we are aware of them or not. Therefore, we need to take the time today to reflect on the biases we have and how we got them. This will take a lot of honesty, but hopefully it helps in knowing that we all have them deep down.