Popular education, or education for liberation, recognizes all people as co-teachers and co-learners. Each person’s leadership abilities grow out of their own experience, as well as any new knowledge or skills they gain. Individual leaders are stronger when their communities are equipped and engaged. These principles shape our learning practices, which draw out people’s abilities and foster an active learning community for sharing new skills. Participants will be able to build relationships, think critically about issues, and act collaboratively in creating solutions. They will be encouraged to tap into their own abilities and wisdom as leaders, and to envision the steps of strengthening healthy communities.
Popular Education is the way we do what we do. It’s also why we do things that way. Popular Education is rooted in the idea that people have the capacity to create solutions to the challenges they face as a community. Solutions imposed from outside, from the same sources that seek to dominate, will never be liberatory.
Popular Education is a global movement. It grew out of the work of Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, who saw that public education in Brazil reinforced the marginalization of indigenous people within Brazilian society, rather than providing indigenous students with strategies to break free from oppression. Freire recognized that education is never neutral. It either serves to reinforce the dominant power systems in society, or to challenge them. Education can be used as a means of oppression or a tool for liberation.
Here are some key concepts that we love about Pop Ed!
the methods or strategies of learning (e.g. in a classroom, in a workshop, in a group reflection, in collective action planning or creative expression). In Popular Education pedagogy, we interact with each other in order to learn from each other. We engage our whole selves in learning (mind, emotions, body) because every person processes their thoughts in different ways: through physical motion, through visual arts, through storytelling and listening, through verbal dialogue, and more.
putting theory into action. Praxis is the way we practice our ideas in our daily lives, in our work, and in our community spaces. For example, at The Seed House ~ La Casa de la Semilla, our commitment to language accessibility means that we write our public communications in both Spanish and English.
Cycle of Praxis
The Cycle of Praxis is See ~ Think ~ Act. This reflects the importance of integrating experience, critical analysis, and actions. In real life, the parts of the cycles are not linear – you don’t have to follow them in a certain order. Rather, it’s a tool for reflection, to ground our actions in critical thinking, and to translate our experiences into meaningful actions. I see …… (example of cycle applied to scenario)
All people are experts of their own experience. In our dominant social system, only some people are recognized as experts, authorities, owners of knowledge. This paradigm not only privileges some individuals for having access to credentials, education, and power – it also values some types of knowledge and devalues others. We believe that all people have wisdom to share, and that the wisdom needed to bring about liberation exists within the communities directly targeted by oppression. In practice, this disrupts the idea that the folks with higher education, official positions of power, and honored credentials can teach oppressed folks how to overcome their oppression. As Audre Lorde said, the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.
Co-teachers & Co-learners
Knowledge is not a static thing that can only be shared from a teacher to a student or a leader to a follower. Knowledge is created collectively, and it has meaning within community. We all have something to teach each other, and we all have something to learn from each other.
The spiral shows Popular Education in practice!
People are experts in their own lives
and carry within them what they need to engage in the struggle to improve their lives. Popular education, or education for liberation, honors the knowledge that people bring with them into any given space. This knowledge, gained through everyday living and disseminated through the sharing of peoples’ stories, is put front and center in any strategy, effort, and work. Knowledge, understanding, and wisdom come from the people and belong to the people.