On freedom – A commentary

EDUC 823
Simon Fraser University – Faculty of Education
Curriculum & Instruction in an Individual Teaching Specialty
MEd Post-Secondary, VCC Cohort
Dr. Michael Ling
Student: Kathryn Truant
February 19, 2020

There is no such thing as a neutral educational process. Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate the integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring conformity to it, or it becomes the ‘practice of freedom,’ the means by which men and woman deal critically and creatively with their reality, and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world (Shaull, in Freire, 1970, p. 16).

I love this passage from Shaull’s forward in Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, especially the ‘practice of freedom,’ and the ‘transformation’ aspects. I want to understand the context, so I ‘Googled’ it. As an aside, before Google™, I would have gone to the library and borrowed books that Freire wrote, leafed through them, and looked through the index to find the passages that I was searching for. I feel like it’s too easy now, and I miss going to the library, but I digress and that is an entirely different tangent.

Here I am, back on track. Like I mentioned, I ‘Googled’ Freire, and the above quote, and within seconds (literally) I had the information I needed. Freire’s statement is from The Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970). The book is now on order from Amazon™, and will arrive at my home in a few days. I am going to put this commentary on hold until then, so I can read it and learn more about what Freire was thinking at the time.

I mentioned in my previous commentary that I value autonomy (personal freedom/individualism). I believe that autonomy fosters critical thinking, creativity. and social advancement. This seems to be what Freire was thinking . . .

Well, I should have gone to my local library to find Freire’s book. I’m a little disappointed in Amazon because The Pedagogy of the Oppressed still has not arrived on my doorstep, and I ordered it weeks ago. There is no way that I am subscribing to Amazon Prime™ just to get free two-day shipping (and donate monthly payments to a huge corporation to do so)! Since then, this commentary has been on hold, and since then I am becoming transformed by the assigned video links in this course, currently on neoliberalism (Bakan, 2013). I want to begin by saying that I believe transformation arises out of freedom – I believe it’s a choice. Let me clarify my previous statement: Transformation is a positive step afforded an individual because they have a choice. I am transforming: I am learning the difference between individualism and personal freedom from learning about neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is a new concept for me so I wanted to know the difference between left and right wing sensibilities. I feel like I am contradicting myself because I thought that individualism and personal freedom were the same thing; I am learning that they are not. I stumbled upon this information graphic that explains the difference (McCandless & Posavec, n.d.):


I will read The Pedagogy of the Oppressed one day, and I hope that Freire will illuminate what he means by freedom. For now, I will continue to be transformed by new information and ideas and how everything fits in with my scholarly pursuits. I turn to educator and philosopher Carl Rogers (Freire’s contemporary) for one last attempt to define ‘practice of freedom:’ “It is the discovery of meaning from within oneself, meaning which comes from listening sensitively and openly to the complexities of what one is experiencing” (1969, p. 269).


Bakan, J. (2013, October 7). Joel Bakan: What’s Left? Reclaiming the public sphere, clip 1 of 1. In YouTubeCA. Retrieved February 8, 2020 from https://youtu.be/yRdPVSbcqmQ?list=PLAL6-leG9mpcEAmgCeD6L4jZzf2ROdoLw

Bakan, J. (2013, October 7). Joel Bakan: What’s Left? Reclaiming the public sphere, clip 2 of 2. In YouTubeCA. Retrieved February 8, 2020 from https://youtu.be/BNDxcI_loyw?list=PLAL6-leG9mpcEAmgCeD6L4jZzf2ROdoLw

Freire, P. (2020, January 18). Handout 1: EDUC 823 [Lecture notes]. Simon Fraser University, MEd Curriculum & Instruction in an Individual Teaching Specialty.

Rogers, C. R. (1969). Freedom to Learn. Columbus: Charles E. Merrill Publishing Company.

Shaull, R. (1970). Foreword. In Freire, P. Pedagogy of the oppressed [foreward]. London: Penguin.

McCandless, D., Posavec, S. (n.d.). Left vs Right (World). In Information is Beautiful.   Retrieved February 19, 2020 from https://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/left-vs-right-world/