The following lists some of the common terms/old words together with their definitions used by Paulo Freire:
Alienation is the separation of humankind from its labor.
Conscientization: Conscientization means breaking through prevailing mythologies to reach new levels of awareness - in particular, awareness of oppression, being an "object" in a world where only "subjects" have power. The process of conscientization involves identifying contradictions in experience through dialogue and becoming a "subject" with other oppressed subjects - that is, becoming part of the process of changing the world.
Critical Consciousness: This is a level of consciousness characterized by depth in the interpretation of problems, through testing one's own findings with openness to revision, attempting to avoid distortion when perceiving problems and preconceived notions when analyzing them, receptivity to the new without rejecting the old because it is old. In striving toward critical consciousness, the individual rejects passivity, practicing dialogue rather than polemics, and using permeable, interrogative, restless, and dialogical forms of life.
Culture of Silence: The "culture of silence" is a characteristic which Freire attributes to oppressed people in colonized countries, with significant parallels in highly developed countries. Alienated and oppressed people are not heard by the dominant members of their society. The dominant members prescribe the words to be spoken by the oppressed through control of the schools and other institutions, thereby effectively silencing the people. This imposed silence does not signify an absence of response, but rather a response which lacks a critical quality. Oppressed people internalize negative images of themselves (images created and imposed by the oppressor) and feel incapable of self-governance. Dialogue and self-government are impossible under such conditions.
Dialectic is a term referring to a dynamic tension within any given system
and the process by which change occurs on the basis of that tension and
resulting conflict. Based on the writings of Hegel, every concept implies
its negation; that is, in conceiving anything (thesis), we must be able
to imagine its opposite (antithesis).
Mystification: Mystification is the process by which the alienating and oppressive features of culture are disguised and hidden. False, superficial, and naive interpretations of culture prevent the emergence of critical consciousness. Educational systems are key instruments in the dissemination of mystifications: e.g. unemployment is "mystified" as personal failure rather than as a failure of the economy, thus making it difficult for the unemployed to critically understand their situation.
Praxis: Praxis is a complex activity by which individuals create culture and society, and become critically conscious human beings. Praxis comprises a cycle of action-reflection-action which is central to liberatory education. Characteristics of praxis include self-determination (as opposed to coercion), intentionality (as opposed to reaction), creativity (as opposed to homogeneity), and rationality (as opposed to chance).
Problematization: Problematization is the antithesis of problem-solving. Problematization recognizes that "solutions" are often difficult because the wrong problems are being addressed.
Transformation of the World: To transform the world is to humanize it. All transformations do not result in liberation. Transforming action could dehumanize the world with an oppressor's curious and inventive presence (e.g. the development of the V-2 rocket in World War II).
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