Some 60 years in the past, Brazilian thinker and educator Paulo Freire had a daring concept: educate 300 folks in a poor, distant city in Brazil to learn in simply 40 hours of lessons.

"A is for Angicos" documentary film poster. Courtesy of Radio TV Suisse/The Literacy Project

© Courtesy of Radio TV Suisse/The Literacy Undertaking
“A is for Angicos” documentary movie poster. Courtesy of Radio TV Suisse/The Literacy Undertaking

His literacy expertise was not solely profitable — it was massively influential all over the world.


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Freire is greatest identified for his groundbreaking ebook, “Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” first written in Portuguese in 1968. The ebook was later translated into a number of languages and continues to get cited regularly in training and social work packages. 

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Freire, who died in 1997, was one of many founders of vital pedagogy, a motion that promotes the “emancipation” of scholars within the classroom and emphasizes the political nature of training. This yr marks his centenary. 

Now, a brand new documentary appears again on the pioneering work of Freire known as “A Is for Angicos,” made by Catherine Murphy.

The 26-minute documentary tracks Freire’s early literacy experiments within the city of Angicos, in northeastern Brazil, the place Freire labored with college-aged volunteers to mobilize illiterate villagers to be taught to learn and write and apply that information to intensify their political consciousness. 

His early work in Angicos helped launch Freire’s lifelong profession as an educator targeted on liberatory pedagogy. 

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Murphy joined The World’s host Marco Werman to speak in regards to the making of her movie and Freire’s profound affect within the fields of training and social justice across the globe. 

Marco Werman: How did Paulo Freire go about his work in that first experiment in northeast Brazil? This was the early 60s, proper? 

Sure. Paulo Freire mobilized a gaggle of faculty college students to be type of co-creators with him of a method to show literacy in 40 hours to illiterate, principally rural adults. And so they went about designing a vocabulary system along with the folks they might educate and selecting what they known as “generative phrases,” which have been phrases in frequent utilization in that area and held evening lessons to make use of these phrases to spark deeper dialogue in regards to the state of their lives and the world.

A still from the film "A is for Angicos." Courtesy of Passos Jr./The Literacy Project

© Courtesy of Passos Jr./The Literacy Undertaking
A nonetheless from the movie “A is for Angicos.” Courtesy of Passos Jr./The Literacy Undertaking


There was a university close to Angicos the place the literacy lecturers have been drawn from?

Paulo Freire was educating on the time on the College of Recife and mobilized about 30 college students from the College of Recife in northeastern Brazil in quite a lot of disciplines to work along with him within the creation of what they known as “cultural circles.” And the younger lecturers have been known as “coordinators,” so it is attention-grabbing how they averted the phrases “trainer,” “professor” or “literacy lessons” and have been actually utilizing this core situation of educating folks the abilities of studying and writing to additionally mobilize them to train their vote — which was prohibited for illiterate folks on the time — and to be engaged in enhancing the world round them in a large number of how.

How completely different was that strategy from earlier approaches to literacy in Brazil?

Nicely, they emphatically rejected earlier grownup literacy supplies that used kids’s books, a kids’s vocabulary. They created a technique that used phrases that have been in frequent utilization, a typical vocabulary that was co-created with the scholars and that honored their information and knowledge. That they had phrases like tijolo [“brick”]​​​​ or ladrillo [“tile”], that are development supplies, however additionally they used phrases like povo and voto, which implies “folks” and “vote.” So, they have been elevating points with folks about: “Are you able to vote?” “Do you have got an identification card?” “Why not?” “The place do you’re employed?” “Who else works there?” “Who owns the land?” And actually connecting them to those type of bigger questions on their lives and type of social justice points and making an attempt to contain them in changing into protagonists in their very own lives and on this planet round them.

A still from the film "A is for Angicos." Courtesy of Cristiano Burlan/The Literacy Project

© Courtesy of Cristiano Burlan/The Literacy Undertaking
A nonetheless from the movie “A is for Angicos.” Courtesy of Cristiano Burlan/The Literacy Undertaking


At one level in your documentary, Catherine, we hear Paulo Freire himself speak about how he thinks of training and literacy, giving folks energy as change brokers. Freire’s well-known ebook about educating the poor known as “Pedagogy of the Oppressed.” What’s the essence of his philosophy, Catherine? 

Freire talks about training as a software for transformation. He rejects what he calls the “banking system” of training, which is that you just’re mainly simply depositing data in an individual. He promotes what he calls studying to learn the phrase and the world and to create what he additionally calls vital consciousness and to convey folks into being change brokers and brokers for optimistic transformation on this planet round them. 

 In 1964, a yr after the literacy experiment in Angicos. The navy got here to energy in Brazil and it got here down arduous on Paulo Freire and his strategies. What occurred? 

The expertise in Angicos was in full course that had the potential to change into a nationwide program. When the coup d’état occurred, whereas the coup occurred on April 1, and Paulo Freire was taken prisoner the very subsequent day, he was arrested in his residence on April 2, 1964, went to jail for about 70 days and was then despatched into exile and lived for a few years in exile earlier than returning to Brazil. He grew to become a worldwide determine, after all, when it comes to empowerment training and revealed many, many books, together with his most well-known work, “Pedagogy of the Oppressed.” However the truth that he was on that early, early listing of the primary folks that they arrested is just not a coincidence. At one of many earlier graduations of the newly literate adults, there have been some navy figures current that have been concerned within the coup that will then occur. And seeing this, you recognize, upsetting of the standard then type of largely feudal system in Brazil during which landless peasants have been studying how one can learn and write, registering to vote and taking an lively position in altering the world round them, nicely, that was precisely what the coup was making an attempt to forestall.

And folks in Angicos have been additionally persecuted by the navy authorities. What occurred to them?

Nicely, it’s extremely unhappy. When folks have gone again to interview the previous college students all of them heard, you recognize, “Freire has been arrested. The challenge is stopped. When you’ve got any supplies, conceal them, bury them, burn them.” So, not one of the former college students have any of their workbooks, papers, supplies. A small quantity of issues do survive, [including] an incredible documentary, a black and white movie that we use in our movie, created by a person named Luis Lobo, who’s nonetheless alive — he is in his 90s. He was a detailed adviser to us and gave us entry to this unimaginable movie. He took the 16-millimeter movie reel and went exterior of the town to a pal within the countryside and buried it in a trunk of their yard — and it miraculously survived. 

People wear masks of Paulo Freire during a protest against a massive cut in the education budget imposed by the administration of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at Cinelandia square, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, May 30, 2019.

© Silvia Izquierdo/AP

Folks put on masks of Paulo Freire throughout a protest in opposition to an enormous minimize within the training price range imposed by the administration of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at Cinelandia sq., in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Could 30, 2019.

This interview was edited and condensed for readability. AP contributed to this report. 

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