Reflects on a Short Video that Paulo Freire Talks about Curiosity

I was impressed by several points by Paulo Freire in this short recored interview.

The first point is remaining your own personality, while being tolerant as educators. It is difficult to recognize and agree to other point of views while defending your own thoughts without swing.

In the Warring States period of ancient China (BC 770-BC 221), many wise ideological tendencies sprouted out. Three major philosophy system, the Confucius, Lao Zi and Mo Zi, together with many other philosophers built up an booming prosperity of ideas. Philosophers communicated with each other, and learned from each other to consummate their own ideology. No one philosophy was dominate, or tried to kill the others. But they evolved and perfect together, contributing a significant portion to the whole Chinese philosophy.

The second point is teachers should appraise and confirm that the speaking from students are as beautiful as the experts. Teachers should be democratic in class to ensure that every student has the right to speak out what they are thinking.

This principle is not conduct very well in Chinese education in general from my perspective. The respect to teachers is rooted deeply in every Chinese mind since we were born. The disagreement with teachers will be considered as un-respective conduct, especially when students express different opinions in the classroom and cause embarrassment on the teachers. Students are expected to be submissive, follow every rule from authoritative teachers, and be diligent on learning. Things are gradually changing since the whole Chinese society are more open, but exchanging academic believes between teachers and students are not as free as it is in the US. Secondly, students with wrong answers should be punished without any excuses. This is quite straight-forward rule in China; wrong is wrong. The part of correct within the overall wrong answer will be hidden and ignored in most cases.




9 thoughts on “Reflects on a Short Video that Paulo Freire Talks about Curiosity”

  1. Hi,

    I do not know much about the history of China, but what happened to cause such as shift from a multi-philosophical system to a top-down educational approach?

    I have read some of the works by Lao Zi, (ex: Art of War) but things are always lost in translation.

  2. Thank you for reminding us, Sihui, that context matters. Freire focused on literacy not for its own sake, but as a vehicle for raising consciousness. I would like to think that there is (or should be) room for his approach in nearly all educational systems, but I recognize that it will be easier to implement these ideals in some contexts more than others. I wonder if in the Chinese context just thinking about the teacher as a learner — someone who cannot be one without the other, and regarding one’s students as co-learners might help create some productive space?

  3. Hi Ken, thank you for your interest in Chinese history, and I am happy to explain that. From BC156 to BC 87, Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty ( took charge. He accepted the suggestions from Zhongshu Dong, a scholar, to promote Confucianism as the official ideology of the Chinese imperial state. Since then, every emperor in ancient continued to promote Confucianism and it became the dominant Chinese philosophy.

  4. Hi Dr. Nelson, thank you for your suggestion. Yes, I agree with you that if the teachers consider them as co-learners of students, they would be much easier to equal the status with students, and create a more free-speaking learning environment. This concept is also consistent with the Chinese philosophy of “Learning is a life-long process; we learn until we die”.

  5. That is a nice parallel that Sihui makes between Freire and Chinese culture. What it is remarkable about Freire’s political view of pedagogy is that it is context depended, but at the same time, it can be applied to many contexts (social structure, political views, etc.). Something I have been wondering about is that those teachers that do not accept comments or opinions from students are experiencing fear. They might be afraid to lose control of the situation, afraid of not being the expert any more, afraid of not being perceived as an infallible dispenser of knowledge, afraid of losing respect from students… it would be logical to me to experience these fears if pedagogy is seen as what Freire calls “Banking concept of education”. I hope that most of us remove these fears as we continue learning about pedagogy.

  6. Hi, Sihui. Thanks for always being a reminder of our precious culture. I agree with you. The learning experience in China and U.S. are quite different. But the things I found in common is that students are always inspired by teachers who care about learning, who are not afraid to show students their true personality. I found such teacher in high school, college, and also here in U.S.

  7. I totally understand you since I grew up in such a system too. The Professors know they are knowledge personified and they exploit it to the fullest degree possible. One thing though, is that this way of thinking is not necessarily an Eastern or an African way. It is also what has been practiced previously in the West. Most my undergraduate Professors had their advanced degrees in England yet they still had an arrogant know it all attitude. Things are beginning to change in the West but probably not so much in other parts of the world.

  8. Hi Bernardo, thank you for your comments. If students ask me the questions that I do not know or give me comments, I will be honest with them and talk with them with an open heart. Partially because I want to be a good educator, the other reason is that I am poorly at pretending. I would be very awkward in front of my students.

  9. Hi Akin, thank you for explaining the similar phenomenon in the west. Hope the education environment is improving worldwide and students can get better education.

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