.....His essay – if that is the right word; for I saw no attempt at understanding –, entitled Searching For Paulo Freire: Classnotes For My Students, is in the form of a plaintive address to his students, outlining his hopes, fears, etc:
I come to teaching with all of my being. My devotion to you is complete. For me, teaching is about something you are, something you embody. Thus I have no techniques, no strategies, no skills, no drills, no exercises that tend to work in conveying various ideas and concepts. Instead, my focus is on how I enter the classroom as a human being.
I want you to leave my class less afraid of the world. For I know you are afraid when I [sic] you enter my class. Most times I cannot even begin to fathom how scared you are. You are too young to be so scared. What has this world done to you? Of course I know you often pretend to be unafraid. But eventually you always become undone. I despise the world for what it has done to you. Your capacity to imagine new and different worlds is shot through with fear. I want my classroom to be the place where your healing begins—that is, where you find the courage to act upon the world in ways that affirm your ability to alter and change your world. It is therefore my responsibility to create a space that encourages you to come face-to-face with all the forces that are damaging you. It is also my responsibility to create a space that allows you to explore the beginnings and possibilities of new and different worlds.
The world you belong to is discursively and materially dichotomous and discontinuous. Something is either positive or negative, good or bad, right or wrong, male or female, sacred or profane. You too believe that the world is outside and separate from you. Of course you also believe the world is finite. Thus you believe that regardless of how one chooses to interpret, say, an apple falling from a tree, the fact of the matter is that the apple will fall to the ground rather than up to the sky. Understandably, you believe deeply in this finite world. You know no other. You are therefore suspicious of any suggestion that our interpretive capacity gives us the power to change and redefine our worlds. You believe that such claims only have purchase in theory.
You generally tend to believe that there is a world outside of us that dictates a set of harsh realities. Hierarchy, for instance, is presumably such a reality. The law of gravity is presumably a next such reality. You also generally tend to believe that cultures are morally and spiritually unequal. Naturally, you tend to believe, though most times embarrassed to openly say so, that your culture is the most superior because it supposedly accepts the world’s harsh realities. For instance, you believe in competition, and thereby in capitalism [aha!], because you believe it constitutes the natural order of the world. So although you sympathize with those who are suffering the fallout from social, political, and economic systems that promote competition, you merely wish for some way to alleviate their plight. But you want to hear nothing of revolution.
I never want to convince you that your position or your beliefs are wrong.
I am challenging you to contest everything you hold be true and sacred.
I always speak about race, ethnicity, and sexuality in my classrooms.
But what is certain is that you have a deep fear of the racial, ethnic, and sexual differences between us.
I treat community as a verb rather than a noun.
I too am of this world.
There are those who now famously say that I have no business trying to use my classroom to change the world. This is the job of other professions. My job is merely ‘to interpret’ the world. Apparently, ‘the true task of academic work [is] the search for truth and the dissemination of it through teaching.’
I have no interest in searching for truth, much less engaging in its dissemination.
Of course there are things in this world which are true and other things which are false. But no truth is outside of human experience, and human experience is inherently variable and changeable.
Of course no one should use a classroom to impose a vision of the world on you. [But . . .] Even if I sought to merely interpret the world, I would still have to engage you in an explanation of how various ideological, historical, cultural, and developmental forces shape your world. I would also have to demonstrate to you how different forces make for different interpretations. In the end, I simply cannot sustain my obligation to interpretation without engaging the condition of the world. To do so would simply be incompetent. I am therefore in no way trying to politicize the class. I am merely trying to be competent educator.
Everyone is to some extent indoctrinated unsystematically with the assumptions implicit in society,
Systematic indoctrination is permissible.
Nice work if you can get it.