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).