Paul Jurmo

Publication Date



This booklet offers a candid glimpse of Paulo Freire's thought in action as he reacts to specific issues raised in a field experience. The case is one of a nonformal education program in Africa that includes an attempt to encourage participation of villagers and lower level staff members in evaluating and planning the project. This effort runs into problems which in turn pose questions for the practitioner. How do you deal with a lack of interest in participation on the part of villagers or staff? What about the resistance of authorities to real participation and its implications? How ethical is it for outsiders to intervene in the affairs of others? As a project member describes the program setting adn poses such dilemmas which faced them, Freire responds to each one. His reflections typically start with conceptual or interpretive dimensions of the issue but then proceed to the practical level of "what to do?"

The Paulo-Paul exchange, which is our concern here, was therefore both structured and open. We wanted to know not only what Freire had to say about some troubling issues, but also how he would go about advising the practitioner. So as the overall inquiry was a joint one, in this one-on-one exchange Freire in effect was given points to start from and come back to in his own way. In the process he touched upon a number of sub-topics:

Meaning of dialogue and the act of knowing

Indigenous ways of knowing

Directiveness and manipulation

Why those "at the top" resist dialogue

Tactics in the context of strategy

The educator as politician

Motives for going to another culture

Unlearning about another culture

The need to listen

Here, the presentation of the case and specific issues by Paul Jurmo are paraphrased and set in italics. Excerpts of the comments by Paulo Freire are basically the words and sequence of a transcript from a tape of the class session. Occasionally connecting words have been added to clarify the flow, and in this sense Freire's comments are also paraphrased. For those who are not familliar with the writings by Freire, or would be interested in selected publications related to Freire's thought, the bibliography included at the end of this booklet should prove useful.



Included in

Education Commons