Decoding the Freirean Approach to Education: A Revolutionary Take on DEI and SEL

by | Feb 6, 2023 | WOKESPLAIN™ | 0 comments

Freirean Approach to Education is a powerful and often controversial concept, reshaping traditional educational norms through its focus on liberation and participation. Born out of the philosophies of the renowned Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire, this approach has significantly influenced pedagogical strategies like project-based learning, culturally relevant teaching, and transformative social-emotional learning. However, the recent rise in the application of Freire’s ideas in the spheres of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) necessitates an in-depth understanding of its implications and effects.

Paulo Freire was a Brazilian educator and philosopher who is best known for his seminal work “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”. Freire’s book is considered a classic in the field of education and is widely read and studied by educators and students of education around the world.

The key teaching of “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” is Freire’s argument that traditional education systems perpetuate oppression and that education must be rethought in order to bring about liberation. Freire argues that education must be a participatory and dialogic process that involves students in critical reflection and critical thinking about their own experiences. He also argues that education must be culturally relevant and must be informed by the experiences of the students being educated.

Freire’s ideas have had a profound impact on education and have influenced the development of many alternative approaches to education, including project-based learning, culturally relevant teaching, and transformative social-emotional learning.

In his new book, ‘The Marxification of Education — Paulo Freire’s Critical Marxism and the Theft of Education’, James Lindsay of New Discourses, explains that Transformative Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) has become the main method for implementing Paulo Freire’s ideas of “conscientization” in schools. According to Lindsay, virtually all SEL programs today either already follow the “Transformative” model or will trend in that direction. Transformative SEL focuses on presenting “generative themes” in education related to “social and emotional intelligence” and using education to promote the correct understanding of these concepts. He goes on to explain that the program begins with data mining to determine which themes will be effective with specific students. The ultimate goal is to infuse SEL into every subject, thus having every subject taught with an emphasis on SEL, leading to the hijacking of education by these themes.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) are important topics in education today. While both of these approaches to education have their roots in the work of Paulo Freire, they have evolved in different ways and address different issues.

 The Freirean Approach to Education:

The Freirean approach to education, which is based on the work of Brazilian Marxist Paulo Freire, has been influential in the field of education for the past 20 to 30 years. This approach emphasises Social-Emotional Learning, Culturally Relevant Teaching, and project-based learning. The goal of the Freirean method is to create a Marxist consciousness in students by positioning all education as an imposition of the existing order. This process is similar to Communist Chinese “thought reform” or “brainwashing” techniques.

The Freirean method consists of four steps: identifying “generative themes,” presenting them in a “codified” form, dialogic encounters, and conscientization. One form of this approach is Transformative Social-Emotional Learning, which trains students to have “correct” social attitudes and emotional responses.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI):

The pursuit of diversity, equity, and inclusion is a popular topic among the political left. However, this approach can sometimes disregard basic universalist ethics and lead to valuing individuals based on immutable characteristics. This can result in harmful selection criteria, generalisations, and harm to one group at the expense of another.

Equity, as branded, aims to supplant the commonly known word of ‘Equality’. In practice, it is a bastardization of the term as it aims for equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity. Equity quotas around race and gender can have disastrous consequences. These policies often ignore the complexities and differences between groups, leading to issues of morality and fairness.

Equity quotas and equality quotas are two different approaches to addressing imbalances and inequalities in representation or participation. Equality quotas aim for equal treatment for all, with the goal of creating a level playing field — often through the mechanism of meritocracy — with the hope of eliminating discrimination. On the other hand, equity quotas go one step further and due to the unfair nature of reality, support is relative to the needs of the individual — often group — with the goal of creating equal opportunities. The main difference between the two is that equality quotas focus on equal treatment, while equity quotas focus on equal opportunities catered to each bespoke group-based disadvantage.

The Freirean approach to education, whether through predatory ideological tools such as Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) or the natural outcome of the Freirean model, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). These are important topics to know about as it is the operating model in the current education industry. Understanding this on a basic level is important for parents so they can make informed decisions about their children’s education.

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