Paulo Freire


Quick Reference


An international educationalist based in Brazil, Paulo Freire's philosophy grew from his experiences of teaching adult literacy to the underprivileged poor of Latin America. Freire called for a change from more formal, teacher‐controlled education to that constructed by the learners themselves. In his seminal work Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970) he used the phrase ‘the banking concept’ to describe formal education, which he felt restricted teachers to delivering a curriculum highly prescribed by those with governmental power. In contrast, Freire sought to develop an awareness among underprivileged learners that they should consider their social and cultural backgrounds as the starting point for their literacy learning, with the intended outcome that they would recognize ways they could transform their learning and their lives for themselves. Although his original focus was on adults and the oppressed, the outcomes of his writing and the subsequent influence have extended well beyond this. Because of the political implications of his approach he is classed as a radical educator.

Further Reading:

P. Freire The Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970; Penguin, 1972).

V. C.

Viv Channing,

K. A.

Karl Aubrey

Subjects: Education.

Reference entries