Cultural Insight

Walking the path of global and cultural understanding. This is a glimpse into my journey

Monday, June 12, 2006

Global Education as Global Freedom

From Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Beyond the act of moving from one location to another, study abroad explores the collective nature of education as a dialogical process. The collective nature of this educational experience abroad comes from experiencing a plethora of new cross-cultural encounters. The dialogical process emerges in a study abroad experience when diverse cultures interact with one another. Students are driven to explore new and foreign ideologies which ultimately transform their view of the world. As the trip progresses, students find effective ways to cope with cross-cultural challenges. So what drives a student to explore other cultures and search for clarity and meaning?
“Epistemological curiosity” drives student’s interaction and exploration as they search for answers to the realities of their new environment. Paulo Friere describes epistemological curiosity as the natural curiosity that exists among humans. It is the element that drives our desire to learn from one another.
It is this methodological rigor that takes knowledge from the level of common sense to that of scientific knowledge. Scientific knowledge is not what is rigorous. Rigor lies in the method applied in an approach to an object. This rigor allows for a greater or lesser precision in the knowledge produced or found through our epistemogical quest (Freire, 1997, p. 97).

As students begin to make sense of their feelings and perceptions, teachers or facilitators can support the acquisition of knowledge through various activities and discussions. Freire clearly mentions that “the teachers cannot think for his students, nor can he impose his thought on them. Authentic thinking, thinking that is concerned about reality, does not take place in ivory tower isolation, but only in communication. If it is true that thought has meaning only when generated by action upon the world, the subordination of students to teachers becomes impossible.” (Feire, 2003). I would agree with this. The real thinking does take place when we are out in the world. This brings up the question of how big is the world to the young African American urban male? With no car and definitely no passport, the world isn’t much more than the concrete jungle.
Without exposure to new stimulus in a manner that supports growth, one is destined to what Feire calls “necrophily” or a static view of the world. “Oppression- overwhelming control – is necrophilic; it is nourished by love of death, not life. The banking concept of education , which serves the interests of oppression, is also necrophic.” The missing engagement or consciousness. This is the similar to the way sociocultural norms are created. Issues of race, sexuality, gender, and religion include the same base of social engagement. Successful study abroad facilitators motivate students to refine their epistemological curiosity by creating opportunities for dialogue, analysis, and personal growth. Freire mentions “as students face problems relating to themselves in the world and with the world, they will feel increasingly challenged and obliged to respond to that challenge.” The appropriate guide can help the student translate many of those challenges through a culturally relevant lens, which helps transforming both the teacher’s and student’s view. Freire considers this type of interaction as “cognitive”. The student and the teacher work toward reflection together which ultimately raises consciousness or “explicit awareness”.

Freire, P. (2003). Critical Pedogogy Reader. New York: Routledge Falmer

Freire, P. (1997). Pedagogy of Hope: Reliving Pedogagy of the Oppressed. New York:
Continuum Publishing Coy.

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