Pedagogy of Autonomy


April 11, 2011 by Willy Cardoso

I’ve never found a copy of this book in English, so I’m assuming there isn’t one. In Portuguese, it’s titled Pedagogia da Autonomia, and it was written by one of the greatest minds in the recent history of my home country. Education and educational studies wouldn’t be the same without Paulo Freire.

The reason I write this post is a very simple one. I want to share with you the content list in English. Only the content list might sound useless, but once you read (only) the content list you can already start to, well, you’ll see…

Every sections starts with Ensinar exige…

Ensinar – to teach (I thought it would sound better if I used teaching)

Exige (exigir) – require, demand, involve, call for… (I opted for require)

Ch 1 – There is no teaching without learning

Teaching requires methodic rigour
Teaching requires research
Teaching requires respect towards learners’ knowledge
Teaching requires criticality
Teaching requires aesthetics and ethics
Teaching requires embodiment of words through examples
Teaching requires risk, acceptance of novelty and rejection of any form of discrimination
Teaching requires critical reflection of practice
Teaching requires acknowledgement and elevation of cultural identity

Ch 2 – To Teach is not to transfer knowledge

Teaching requires conscience of the unfinished
Teaching requires the acknowledgement of being conditioned
Teaching requires respect toward the autonomy of the being of the learner
Teaching requires good sense
Teaching requires humility, tolerance and fight for learners’ rights
Teaching requires apprehension of reality
Teaching requires joy and hope
Teaching requires the conviction that change is possible
Teaching requires curiosity

Ch 3 – To Teach is a human specificity

Teaching requires security, professional competence, and generosity
Teaching requires commitment
Teaching requires the understanding that education is a form of intervention in the world
Teaching requires freedom and authority
Teaching requires conscious decision-making
Teaching requires knowing how to listen
Teaching requires ackowledging that education is ideological
Teaching requires availability for dialogue
Teaching requires wishing learners well

Not being a big fan of lists myself, I think this is a great list – and rich material for discussions – this could easily be a syllabus of a good teacher development program, in which teachers would engage in conversations about each item, and research, and talk about their experiences with other teachers and most importantly with students as well, and all that that really matters, instead of the usual… erm… well… you know. (top-down thing)

I’m not a professional translator, and there might be some mistakes below, but to be honest, I couldn’t be bothered (but do let me know if you have better way to say anything there). I tried to preserve the words by not interpreting or using synonyms that would collocate better or anything, it’s mostly a word-to-word translation; which is in fact good for your own analysis and reflection.


14 thoughts on “Pedagogy of Autonomy

  1. Sounds like a great book, Willy! How about translating it?

    • That’s a good idea! and an extremelly difficult one for me. Especially at the later stage of his career, Freire wrote extremelly dense texts which are hard to follow sometimes, this one is being one of them. I think I’d rather write something of my own rather than translating anything in fact, it’s a shame though that many great texts are still not availble in other languages.

  2. Cristina says:

    Surprised. Completely.
    The list needs, perhaps, no other addition. If we read carefully, everything discussed these days – from autonomy and risk-taking to commitment and critical reflection – HAS BEEN there all along.
    Instead of chasing new void words and phrases perhaps it is time we returned to core philosophies like this one (and even older, Socrates’s).
    On the other hand, I am not that surprised. I came across a few of Freire’s quotes and all remained imprinted in my mind due to their depth and wisdom (dare I call it so).
    Thank you for sharing this. I will print it and circle what I need to reflect and improve on.

  3. Anna Varna says:

    Sharing this list was a great idea Willy. Gives me one more reason to try to learn Portuguese at some point….

  4. Natalia says:

    engraçado q, ontem msm, mexendo nos meus livros, peguei o “pedagogia da autonomia”, q li faz mts anos, e me encantei com o índice! 🙂 pensei justamente isso: “nossa, só isso já dá um curso de formação de professor!” mas ainda bem q vc disse q o livro é complicado. me lembro de ter achado super-difícil, mas hj uma amiga pedagoga diz q acha a leitura de paulo freire super tranquila. fiquei até deprimida, mas, realmente, ela não tinha lido esse!

    • pois é… ainda bem que só o índice já vale muito!
      Foi o primeiro livro dele que comprei, mas acho que não é o melhor livro para começar a ler Freire, é difícil sim! Quem acha que não deve estar muitos anos na nossa frente.

  5. I like that list but even more, I like the idea of you writing your own :D, so do it, I will definitely buy it. Never let anything stop you from what you are capable of producing…

  6. I do rememeber reading chapters of this fantastic book in “Portuguese” during my master’s degree program! It was a fantastic experience (Portuguese and Spanish are kind of similar)…As you wrote the text sometimes could be dense, so you have to read it several times…But it is really worth doing so.

  7. This list is very useful, thanks!

    Could easily plan a training day/ study module around this. I’m thinking of making this a staff-room poster!

    I particularly like
    “Teaching requires acknowledging that education is ideological
    Teaching requires availability for dialogue”

    Challenging stuff. But then
    “Teaching requires the conviction that change is possible”

    Above my desk I have the Friere quote,
    “It is imperative that we maintain hope even when the harshness of reality may suggest the opposite.”

  8. Bruno says:

    Being a Brazilian educator myself I cannot help but agree with you that education wouldn’t be the same if Paulo Freire hadn’t lent us his wisdom.
    Your list is incredibly well translated and if you need some more insights about this book – or any others by Freire – I’d be more than happy to help you understand it.
    Good job!
    Bruno Andrade

  9. Hello Willy,

    I am not sure, but I think this is the correct book that you looking for:

    I think pedagogy of freedom is pedagogy of autonomy ok?

    Best regards,

    • It is!
      Thanks for pointing that out.
      I’ve just taken a look at the table of contents and they match. However, I must say the English translation loses the ‘poetics’ a bit, or even the urgency, which I find in the original where every chapter/section starts with ‘Ensinar exige…’

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