Among the many bronze busts of lunatic conservatives like Milton Friedman, George Argyros, Ayn Rand and Ronald Reagan dotted around Chapman University is a bona fide leftist radical: Paulo Freire. The late, bearded Brazilian educator transformed education through Pedagogy of the Oppressed, his most influential book first published in 1968. Generations of leftists teachers have waved the book around since, especially those in ethnic studies, the type of studies that Chapman President Jim Doti thinks ghetto-izes college students–so how the hell did Freire end up on campus?
Chapman is not only home to a bust of the Brazilian, but also houses the Paulo Frerie Critical Pedagogy Archives–double-down on the radicalism! The collection will be re-dedicated Saturday with an all-day symposium planned.
The 'Teaching Critically and Democratically in Times of Crisis' event brings together Freire's widow, Dr. Nita Freire, alongside a slew of scholars including Loyola Marymount University's Antonia Darder, who holds the Leavey Endowed Chair in Ethics and Leadership.
"I first met Paulo Freire in 1987 at a conference that was held at the University of California Irvine," Darder recalls. She read Pedagogy of the Oppressed ten years before the encounter, delving into its pages time and time again. "It was a watershed moment in my life in the sense that meeting Freire consolidated my passion and political commitment to struggle for educational justice."
Professor Darder made waves in education circles with Culture and Power in the Classroom, her own signature book. Darder's latest tome is Freire and Education and is due out next month. "The book represents an opportunity to recall how Freire's work, in particular, inspired educators of color," she says. "It speaks to Freire's major concepts that help teachers to think more critically about their practice and the needs of our children and their community."
A number of other Freire-inspired scholars during the symposium will talk up the urgency of the education philosopher's message in the 21st century. From Quebec to Santiago, Chile popular student movements have emerged to fight the privatization of education and all that it entails.
"After more than four decades, Freire continues to be salient in the work of radical educators not only in the United States but internationally," Darder says. "It continues to be important because he so clearly defined education as a political act, an act of love and a humanizing project."
For more information about Saturday's symposium, click HERE. See you there!
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @gsanroman2