Chapter III. The dialogue: the essence of education as a practice of freedom
Why did I read Freire?
I came to the end of my schooling a long time ago with my doctorate in 2013. Then I became an educator. What does Freire have to tell me today? Why didn’t I have the time and desire to read it before? Who should read Freire and why?
In my research, I have been interested in action and reflection. We all agree that reflection is important and that we must act in our inner interest (the development of biblical talents) and at the service of others (the common good). The one without the other is useless, says Freire: In the first case it is sterile, in the second case it is activism.
To me, it’s interesting how Freire doesn’t justify the aggressor and not the victim. Their action of defeat is denounced in the same way as the aggressor’s action. Maybe I was afraid of finding moral goodness in Freire: to accept your condition. Instead, it is the opposite: your silence makes you guilty; your lack of faith is in your inaction. The complaint against the passivity is alive. Some contexts in which I live dominate the culture of silence, the art of not speaking, the keeping silent — like in mafia culture.
Our privilege is that of transforming the world through our dialogue. If there are the conditions for true dialogue, then there are the conditions for change. Freire speaks of pronouncing the word, naming things as they are, describing them, saying them: simply saying them is an act of creation (“Sit Lux et Lux Fuit”— it is light at the end of the creation).
« C’est pourquoi le dialogue est impossible entre les êtres qui veulent la prononciation du monde et ceux qui ne la veulent pas, entre ceux qui refusent aux autres le droit d’énoncer leur parole et ceux qui voient ce droit, primordial, leur être nié »
Dialogue is adhesion to the mutual mission of liberation: I am not mine on yours or yours on mine, but mutual. I find the lucid analysis of the victim / oppressed speech to underline: there is violence among the poor because the expression of love has been made impossible. I am thinking of the trauma or dynamics of dysfunctional families: violence is the absence of love.
We must put ourselves in the right conditions for dialogue in order to be able to act in a correct and mutually beneficial manner.
« Comment puis-je dialoguer si je crains le dépassement et si, rien que d’y penser, je souffre et dépéris ? »
I am reminded of a quote from RUMI, the poet, who says that the problem is not that we fail to love but that we must eliminate all the conditions that we have created or that exist between us and the condition of love. Then love is there. If there is violence, abuse, and power play, how can I relax in dialogue with my aggressor? How can I express myself without first eliminating the superstructure of hatred? The lack of faith and the use of silence or isolation becomes a defeat and an escape from the world.
“La langue de bois” (wood languages in the French expression) becomes a language that chains us.
« Dire une chose et en faire une autre, sans prendre la parole au sérieux, ne peut stimuler la confiance »
The comfortable refuge that I have found in passive silence, in a social role, in a neutral and apathetic position, starts to burn as I read Freire. If I have surrendered to the world and complain without conviction, then even my word becomes useless and violent, because it obscures with noise the only decision to make: action.
“Je me mobilise avec espoir pendant que je lutte et, si je lutte, c’est parce que j’ai espoir”
Reading this chapter opens up reflections on research in education on dialogue by Wegerif and many others. We must arrive at dialogue in the right conditions and once there, if we are attentive to the reciprocal dynamics through observation of the dynamics, we can find the transformation we were looking for. Instead, I can arrive at a space of dialogue with a thousand hesitations, fears, implicit or explicit restrictions:
“Pour la pensée naïve, l’important est de s’adapter à cet aujourd’hui normalisé “