in progress edited by Daniel
Department of Adult Education, Community Development and Counselling Psychology,
The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE/UT)
May 15 of 1956, Gilberto Freyre (1900-1987), one of the most prominent Brazilian
social scientists of the 20th century, addressed a group of women
rural teachers in the state of Pernambuco, Northeast Brazil, at the end of a
professional development course. In one part of his speech, Freyre reminded
those teachers (most of them raised and educated in urban areas) that behind the
apparent superstitions of rural people there is a vast reservoir of traditional
knowledge and wisdom that should be recognized, respected and valued:
não nos esqueçamos de que em aparentes superstições da gente rural podem
estar refugiados conhecimentos de valor para o cientista, o técnico, o homem
culto, sôbre plantas, animais, valores regionais. Si há superstições
evidentes que devem ser habilmente combatidas em gente rústica e habilmente
substituídas por conhecimentos científicos, outras crenças rústicas devem
ser consideradas expressões de sabedoria popular ou folclórica, às vezes
valiosas como sugestões para o próprio cientista que siga o conselho de Camões:
o de não desdenhar-se a sabedoria dos velhos. E os velhos rurais guardando,
como guardam, muita superstição despresível, guardam também muita sabedoria
aproveitável. Os velhos, as mulheres, os analfabetos rurais, todos guardam
conhecimentos folclóricos sôbre aspectos regionais, de natureza e de vida, que,
quando gerais, antigos e persistentes, nunca devem ser sistemàticamente
despresados mas cuidadosamente examinados por agrônomos, zootécnicos, veterinários,
médicos, professôres rurais, farmacêuticos, sacerdotes que cheguem a um meio
rural, com a sua ciência em flor adquirida em academias ou escolas apenas
the next part of the speech, Freyre asked teachers and other urban professionals
(doctors, veterinaries, pharmacists, agronomists, lawyers, etc.) who are working
in rural areas to stop behaving like exiles filled with a nostalgic feeling for
the cities, and encouraged them to begin to integrate as much as possible in the
lives of rural communities. Then Freyre asks them to develop a deep sense of
identification, sympathy and respect for rural people, their problems, their
anguish, their art, their culture and their knowledge.
part of the talk, Freyre pointed out that teachers should not just technicians
who are mainly concerned with their promotion to urban schools. In his view,
which was similar to the approach espoused by John Dewey’s and many others,
teachers must be leaders of social reconstruction, animators of local values,
possibilities, and aspirations. They must also be, add Freyre, mediators between
rural and urban values.
ideas and principles provided a fertile soil for the innovative pedagogical work
that would be undertaken a few years later in the same region of Brazil by
another Brazilian intellectual called Paulo Freire.
From those initial experiences, Paulo Freire began to develop and
constantly refine a set of educational theories and practices that would inspire
educators and non-educators alike from all over the world.
core of those theories and practices we can find some of the key principles
raised by Gilberto Freyre in his speech to the teacher. Among them are that
education should be based on dialogue, that educators should build bridges
between systematized knowledge and popular culture, and that educators should
challenge people’s ideas when they are wrong (superstitions in the language of
Gilberto Freyre, naïve consciousness in the language of Paulo Freire) but at
the same time should have a profound respect for people’s knowledge, wisdom
and worldviews, accepting that it is possible that sometimes they (the
educators) are wrong and the learners are correct.
Freyre, Gilberto. Palavras às professoras rurais do Nordeste. Recife, 15 maio 1956.
Prepared by DS
Citation: Author (2002). Title. In Daniel Schugurensky (Ed.), History of Education: Selected Moments of the 20th Century [online]. Available: http://fcis.oise.utoronto.ca/~daniel_schugurensky/assignment1/ (date accessed).
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