“Leaders who do not act dialogically, but insist on imposing their decisions, do not organize the people–they manipulate them. They do not liberate, nor are they liberated: they oppress.” – Paulo Freire
Teachers are in a position of leadership. We have the opportunity to both grow and encourage growth in our students. Without dialogue between both student and teacher, this is not possible. As an educator, if all I do is stand in front of a classroom of students and speak what is my norm, and what is the norm of what is in the curriculum, without the interaction and involvement of others, I am showing that what I have to say and teach is of superiority. I believe what Freier is trying to say here is to empower one another through critical conversation. It is known that what happens outside of the classroom can affect the experience within the classroom. Therefore, what also happens in the classroom can have a profound affect on the outside. When teachers are aware of their role in preparing students to be critical thinkers, they are empowering them to not take everything at face value. To question and challenge what they are learning.
As a mature student, this dialogue opportunity had only arisen once I attended the Education program at the University of Regina. Through my elementary and high school days through out the nineties, what we learned was strictly colonial history. There was very little dialogue or critical thinking involved. Do what you are told and you will be a good student. That kind of environment created majority of individuals who fit with the status quo. There is nothing liberating about being expected to be like everyone else. To think, to act, to look and to speak the “right” way. Freire is making it evident that there is not one “right” way. That without dialogue we will never have the opportunity to know other ways beyond our own. There will always be more than one context and perspective, and a good leader will guide their students to also engage with one another to learn different aforementioned perspectives and contexts.
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