Curiosidad! Educación! Libertad!




I’ve always felt passionate about teaching, reflecting on my own process, and striving to improve the content and experience of coursework. I’ve always strongly believed that education is crucial to critical inquiry, personal growth, social responsibility and societal change, but I’d never read about Paulo Freire directly (although I suspect I have read devotees of his work).

Freire’s assertion that teaching is a political act that can lead to liberation (economic, political, social, emotional and mental) is inspiring and empowering for teachers. My hope is always to create a classroom environment where students have those nearly tangible ah-ha movements, but it is hard to know if the practical, day-to-day classroom experience is fostering critical engagement. In the video interview with Freire, I think he gets to the heart of his pedagogical belief: eternal curiosity must nurtured. Curiosity — the asking of why, how and so what? — is a radical act that challenges the dominate culture. He remarks that he, too, has remained curious in old age. This calls for teacher to remain curious students, open to the process of lifelong learning as our teacherly, scholarly, personal selves continue to grew.

belle hooks adds to this conversation, suggesting that teachers who are in tune to society at large and are humane will help students question and challenge the dominant, oppressive socio-political structures in their lives. Students can help change the world, but first we have to see each of them as unique, individual, human. I began this semester giving myself a pass on learning my students’ names. I’ve ALWAYS done this in classes that were much smaller, but this time around I thought, “I’m in school too. Learning their names is less important than connecting with them. Just let it go.” But a month in, I felt a disconnect with them, and I think it might have been emanating from me. For me, putting forth the effort to know their names is one way I build a relationship. So, I started learning their names. In a class of 38, it has taken me some time, but I can do it (and I’m really bad with names). In the future, if I teach larger classes, I might have to find ways to better connect with students in a different way, but, for me, asking their name and calling on them in a personal way seems to remain crucial.

Ultimately Kinchloe states that some teachers depoliticize and water-down Freire’s work, focusing on the self-directed aspects. Others focus more on the political nature, ignoring the need for deep scholarly engagement. I can identify moments in my own teaching experience where I’ve run the gamut of this polarities, but giving them a context helps me to better navigate between them. Sign me up, I want to be a card-carrying member of Freirean Pedagogy.


Filed under Contemporary Pedagogy GEDI Spring 2018

11 Responses to Curiosidad! Educación! Libertad!

  1. erinleighvt

    I hear what you are saying. For me, if I do not know peoples’ names, I do not feel nearly as connected to them. I also make an effort whenever I talk to people I don’t know on the phone or in person to address them by their names (e.g., “Hi, thank you for calling X. My name is Erica. How may I help you?” “Hi, Erica, my name is Erin …..). To me, when someone uses my name, it makes me feel like they somehow CARE about me (even if I have never met them before) or at least that they paid attention to what I was saying when they introduced themselves! The power of feeling cared about and heard are very strong!

  2. Tyler Quick

    Ditto to the benefits of learning your students names and, as a student, having a teacher know your name. Showing you care enough to do small, individualized things like learning someone’s name can go a long ways to building bridges and open discussions. I think, too, that you are more likely to listen people who you think of as individuals instead of as just one more of the crowd. I think that helps them enjoy and engage but also helps you as a teacher to find more enjoyment and engagement in the teaching experience. It’s fun to actually know those you teach. Thanks for the post!

  3. nordicgod

    Good afternoon Sarah,

    Yes, I’m absolutely obsessed with learning the names and stories behind every student. I know it sounds crazy but my job as a professor is to transform lives and I can’t do that if I’m not even knowledgeable about basic details. I can’t tell you how many students have come up to me here at VT after I’ve given a guest lecture and begged for me to teach the class, all because I connect with them on an emotional level and can talk about the “real” world with “real” examples and relate it to the theory at hand.


    Cheers, Lehi

  4. psalmonsblog

    I agree. The humanistic approach is key to understanding these dichotomies. Making oneself available for that position is also about being wary of situational learning. hooks is tremendous and I love how you implemented her here. Good stuff about learning what is at hand and active engagement.

  5. I love that your title was posted in spanish. I think this makes a powerful statement in itself on radical pedagogy—centering what is typically marginalized in western culture.

  6. baileyfood

    Moving forward in class preparations I will always ask myself how the dissemination of materials can foster curiosity. You also point out a critical component of classroom facilitation, especially one in which the object is to motivate students to be critical learners and teachers – relationships. It is no easy task, although I think your will to learn names is critical and a worthy pursuit of time. Great job and thanks for sharing!

  7. Mary Nedela

    In addition to learning names, I think it can be very powerful to try to remember (as much as possible) the interests of students, or the potential careers they desire. You can personalize the content them, thus getting them more engaged as well. I experience that in my graduate classes, with my professors framing content (like statistical concepts, for example) within my research interests. I truly feel this should happen more in undergraduate classes to help them wrestle with the content more meaningfully.

  8. Selva M

    I really enjoyed reading your blog post and thoughts on the different readings. I agree so much with your statement that, it’s ‘Hard to know if the practical, day-to-day classroom experience is fostering critical engagement.’ I too struggle with this and wondering if I’m actually creating an environment where every student feels they are learning something. I just want them to want to be there. I think just the fact that you are thinking about how to teach is the first step towards getting them engaged, and learning there names is a great place to start! 🙂

  9. I like your example about learning students’ names. I’ve found that classes where teachers learned the students’ names (even in large lectures) were more interesting, and the instructor seemed to be more passionate about the class overall. I always wondered how much time that must take…do they have flashcards they memorize? Some would see this as excessive and too much work but it seems worth it.

  10. Teaching is essential for a free and critical society.

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