Response Paper #3
The most vital thing I took from the reading of Friere’s sixth letter was the great necessity to create a democratic community in the classroom. By this I mean there is much more than having the children or learners decide as a group which behaviors they value in their class environment. I’m realizing and learning more and more, especially through the experiences that I have read about and experienced in this online class program, that my role as a learner is not limited to the boundaries of the classroom or school. It should be a duty to for educators to become involved in with their students lives outside of school as much as inside school. Also, that both the educator and the leaner have a duty to become involved in the community and the politics that govern education.
In the sixth letter, Freire makes the case for both teacher and student. However, both the teacher and the student must come to the table of dialogue with their questions and be respected to discuss equally. The educator must not be afraid of making mistakes, because like the students they are human. Likewise, the student is trying to learn how to be human and what to do when they will inevitable make mistakes. The key to this type of open and honest dialogue is that democracy is not undermined. As long as students can question in earnest and expect an honest answer and vice versa, then the possibilities of working together to make a better school, community, and world are possible (Freire, 1998).
I think it is says it best when in the letter it states, ”Only insofar as learners become thinking subjects, and recognize that they are as much thinking subjects as are the teachers, is it possible for the learners to become productive subjects of the meaning or knowledge of the object. It is in this dialectic movement that teaching and learning become knowing and reknowing. The learners gradually know what they did not yet know, and the educators reknow what they knew before” (Freire, 2005). However, it is not always the case that learners always learner with a teacher who plays the role of a facilitator or that learners never learner with an authoritarian teacher. Although to their advantage the learners are in a better position to be empowered when they know that the teacher is genuinely interested in their voices as being important in the classroom.
Although I continued to find myself often rereading to further understand Freire better, I enjoyed this chapter because I feel the relationship between a teacher and the learner is a major element in being successful at reaching all learners. Moreover, Freire returns to the thin ice with the notion that teachers must be rooted in love, but must not become coddling of their students. They must always remain on the thin line that is held by the rigor of teaching and learning, acting and reflecting. Freire readily entices teachers to become creators of a new understanding of the school in which creativity is mixed with responsibility so the teacher can stand astride the view of both the teacher and the administrator. Not only is it important to be consistent with expectations and behavior management, but also providing a solid support for each child in your class by following through and taking action to meet each child’s individual needs. There were two points Freire made that really stood out for me. On page 98, he says, “And of the testimony of saying and the testimony of doing, the stronger is doing because it has or can have immediate effects.” To me, this quote reminded me of the importance of a teacher’s follow through and the power of being consistent. When teachers follow through for their children, the relationship between the teacher and the child becomes stronger and stronger as children learn that you mean what you say and you will look out for their needs, which, in turn, makes the child want to try even harder to achieve success in school.