“Education, when confined to conformity, is a chain binding minds to the past. But when ignited as the ‘practice of freedom,’ it becomes the revolutionary flame that empowers hearts to critically question, envision, and ardently participate in the transformative dance of shaping a brighter, more just future for all.”
In the realm of education, there exists a profound dichotomy – a choice between serving as a passive conveyor belt for societal norms or emerging as the vanguard of transformative change. Paulo Freire, a visionary educator, encapsulated this duality when he asserted, “There is no such thing as a neutral education process.” Indeed, education, in its essence, either aligns with the status quo, fostering conformity, or it blossoms into the “practice of freedom,” a catalyst for critical thinking and societal evolution.
The prevailing educational system, in many instances, functions as a conduit for perpetuating existing norms and structures (for e.g British Education System in India). It can be a tool wielded by the establishment to seamlessly integrate successive generations into the prevailing logic of the status quo. In this mode, education becomes a force that molds minds to fit pre-established molds.
On the contrary, the transformative power of education is unleashed when it transcends its role as a mere dispenser of information. When education becomes the “practice of freedom,” it becomes a dynamic force for change. It empowers individuals to engage critically with the world around them, to question assumptions, and to envision a more equitable and just society. This perspective sees education as a means for individuals to actively participate in the reshaping of their reality.
Freire’s philosophy urges us to view education not as a passive process but as an active engagement with the complexities of the world. It encourages educators and learners alike to peel back the layers of societal norms, dissecting them with a critical eye to free themselves from what I would say in our Indian context- the “Intellectual Prisons of irrelevant Western Ideas and World views”.
In doing so, education becomes a vehicle for fostering autonomy, enabling individuals to navigate the intricacies of their existence with a sense of purpose and agency.
To embrace education as the “practice of freedom” is to acknowledge its potential as a liberating force, capable of breaking chains of ignorance and prejudice. It is an invitation to explore diverse perspectives, challenge ingrained biases, and envision a society founded on justice and equality. Such an education system fosters creativity, innovation, and a sense of responsibility toward shaping a nation and a better world for future generations.
In conclusion, Freire’s wisdom beckons us to recognize that education is never neutral. It is a force that either perpetuates the status quo or serves as a beacon for societal transformation. As we navigate the complexities of education, let us strive to embrace the latter – an education that empowers individuals to positively engage with reality, fostering a generation that actively contributes to the ongoing evolution of a more just, equitable, and enlightened India and the world.
Dr Aniruddha Babar,
Dept of Political Science,
Tetso College, Nagaland