Popularizing Education – Education for who? #CFHE12

As I write this post, I am listening to a seminar about Popular Education in Latin America delivered by Professor Carlos Alberto Torres from the Paolo Freire Institute, UCLA visiting the University of Malta. In Freire’s popular education and culture was that of “basing educative practices upon individual and collective experience, popular education took previously acquired knowledge by the people and reconstruct it in a communal process of learning.” Moreover, popular education sought to look at the person rather than the end achievements of simply passing the tests. When we focus on the assessment part, then we do not have the time to feel pride into co-ownership of the knowledge that is manifested in learning processes.

Looking back at MOOCs and what these attempt to achieve, or maybe what they can achieve by exploiting the tools, that are accessible, is this possibility of popularizing education – that is creating knowledge by the people for the people, overcoming the hegemony leading to the status quo as described by Gramsci.

One of the important underlying principles upon which Freire builds his theories and paradigms is dialogue. One most often tends to overlook or underestimate the power of dialogue – two way conversations that are now at the basis of most courses delivered via the online environment. And as I listen to Prof Torres explaining about social movements and their rift with Universities and public institutions I think, as I try to reconcile my thoughts with what I have read so far in CFHE12, could it be that MOOCs and the likes are in reality viewed as “different” movements that are essentially driven by people and are thus considered as separated from Universities and public institutions? I have read a substantial amount of articles which point towards this kind of propagation of fear, for the ‘different’ or for that which challenges the status quo in which our state of Education has been for too long. I very much wonder if the issues that have to do with this reluctance of adopting new modes and methodologies, is more pertinent to the reluctance of risk taking in making knowledge ‘common’ or belonging to the people rather than reserving it for fewer people.

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