Academic journal article International Journal of Action Research

Paulo Freire and the Methodology of Thematic Investigation for Permanent Teacher education/Paulo Freire Y la Metodología De Investigación Temática Para la Formación Permanente De Profesores

Academic journal article International Journal of Action Research

Paulo Freire and the Methodology of Thematic Investigation for Permanent Teacher education/Paulo Freire Y la Metodología De Investigación Temática Para la Formación Permanente De Profesores

Article excerpt

Introduction

This text presents the principles that were the basis of permanent teacher education, as it was constructed and applied in the city of São Paulo's public school system during the period in which Paulo Freire was the Municipal Secretary of Education.

The article also highlights the methodology of thematic investigation (Freire, 1987), within the paradigm of Action Rearch. This proposal brings a new perspective to teacher education, understood as a path to help teachers gain a deeper understanding, and to critically evaluate their own practices. This is a new focus that makes it possible to overcome a serious obstacle in in-service teacher education, which is, the distance between classroom practice and the work developed in teacher education programmes.

The argumentative structure of the article begins with a consideration of the concept of "public, popular and democratic education", defended by Freire, and continues by elaborating a synthesis of the educational policy which was implemented by his administration, with the aim of showing how the principles of the Freirean pedagogy became concrete through the practice which he called curriculum reorientation movement, the context within which permanent teacher education was given effect.

The research on the relevance of Paulo Freire's thought nowadays is presented, in this text, as part of the work that has been developed at the Paulo Freire Cathedra at the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo (PUC-SP), in Brazil. Amongst the empirical works, within the ambit of this research, emphasis will be given to a doctoral thesis that adopts Freire's concept of permanent teacher education and, at the same time, applies the methodology of thematic investigation as the principal methodological process, recreating this proposal in the context of teacher education-research.

Public, popular and democratic education in the Freire administration1

The concrete realisation of the political-pedagogical proposal2, in the Paulo Freire administration, introduced a new logic to the process of curriculum construction in Brazil. To reorient the curriculum in accordance with a critical-emancipatory rationality implied taking into consideration the dialectic relation between the historical-cultural-social-political context and the curriculum. Work was done on the construction of a school orientated towards the social and critical development of the students, a school that was serious about the appropriation and recreation of knowledge and, at the same time, about the creation of a joyful environment, encouraging solidarity and curiosity. The practice of this new logic constantly took into account the necessary participation of teachers, emphasising collective work and teacher education. The work to improve the quality of public municipal education meant proposals for changes to the internal relations within the school and the relation school/population. It was also understood that the school should be open so that the population could participate in the process to "change the face of the school", in the words of Paulo Freire, to give it new spirit, new life, and more than anything, to critically reform knowledge as a necessary condition for emancipation. Community participation in the creation of culture and education broke with the tradition that only the elite are competent, and know the necessities and the interests of the population.

It was about the reconstruction and the implementation of Paulo Freire's proposal, in relation to the acquisition and construction of knowledge. The organisation of the programme that was to be developed in the schools, based on the elaboration of the generative themes identified by students and teachers through the study of the reality of the region, demanded the creation of a new work architecture in the school, due to the necessity to break with a way of thinking which had been installed for 60 years in the school system, and which was characterised by curriculum proposals defined through a "topdown" approach, by those in superior positions in the Secretary of Education, generating individualised work on the part of teachers, with a view to depositing knowledge in the supposedly "empty heads" of the students. …

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