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Freire proposed a problem-posing education instead of the traditional methodology. The role of the problem-posing educator consists in creating the appropriate conditions to move knowledge beyond the level of the memorization to the level of learning. Through dialogue, educators help in forming an understanding and awareness of one’s reality, mainly the identification of the contradictions of oppression, in a world where only the Subjects have power.
This process, called by Freire “conscientização” (conscientization, or raising consciousness) meant to break predetermined concepts, helping students to construct a new reality with a committed involvement in the struggle for liberation (Freire, 1970).

Therefore, dialogue is a key concept for learning. Freire believed that the educator must include the students, viewed not as objects but subjects, in the educational process. As he points out, liberating pedagogy cannot maintain distant from the oppressed by treating them as unfavorable and presenting them with models that come from the oppressors. That is why for Freire interventions needed to be only in the light of dialogue. The transformation would come with praxis, a combination of action and reflection, which is translated in dialogic action. He believed that dialogue was a horizontal endeavor that could not exist if one was placed above the other. Therefore it needed to come from an empathetic perspective, where both sides are engaged in a joined search (Cavalier, 2002). Also fundamental to dialogue are critical thinking, communication, and intercommunication. As Freire (1998) emphasizes,“without dialogue there is no communication, and without communication, there can be no true education.”

He defines the opposite of dialogue as anti-dialogue, a vertical, top-down relationship (Freire, 1973). Freire conceives communication as dialogue and participation, therefore, for some, his ideas opposed the diffusion model, the sender-focus concept and behavioral, persuasion models of the dominant paradigm (Waisbord, 2001; Morris, 2003). For Freire, the difficulties of the Third World are problems in communication, not in information as proposed by the persuasion theorists. Communication needs to take into consideration community interaction and values. Communication within the dialogical pedagogy theory needs to strive for conscientization, to provide a sense of empowerment to the participants by exchanging views and experiences (Waisbord, 2001). However, empowerment should not be viewed as something one person can grant the other. It is, instead, processes of discovery and action, the dialectic reflection and action that make the praxis of transforming reality in an individual and collective effort.

Coming from the perspective that media is seen as an outsider to local communities, it should be used as an additional tool and not the principal method of communication. Instead, the focus should be on community-based forms of communication, where participation in group interactions can be fostered (Hamelink, 1990). Therefore, interpersonal communication and the importance of community level decision making processes are the focus of Freire and other proponents of the participatory model (Waisbord, 2001).
The focus on interpersonal communication, downplaying the importance of the media is one of the criticisms of the participatory model. Especially in Freire’s dialogical pedagogy theory where the focus is towards group interaction, consequently paying little attention to the contribution of the media. However, the power of the media cannot be ignored since populations are exposed to media messages even in remote locations (Waisbord, 2001).

Critics of the participatory paradigm challenge the proposed notion of mutual process of learning, where objects become subjects in the construction of a new reality. They contend that Freire contradicts himself because his theory involves manipulation of the oppressed by elitist outsiders, in other words, the teacher is the one who ultimately has the power (Facundo, 1984). Refuting this argument, Freire clarifies the need of the teachers to have authority through the knowledge of the disciplines they teach. However, he explains, the role of the educator is of a non-authoritarian directiveness, preserving the students’ critical capacities; otherwise, this directiveness might degenerate into authoritarianism and manipulation (Freire, 1994; Shor & Freire, 1987).

In his later work, he reiterated his hope for a changing world through praxis, as he explains:

Hope of liberation does not mean liberation already. It is necessary to fight for it, within historically favorable conditions. If they do not exist, we must labor to create them. Liberation is a possibility, not fate nor destiny nor burden. In this context, one can realize the importance of education for decision, for rupture, for choice, for ethics at last (Freire, 1998).



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