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By Valerie J. Janesick, University of South Florida
vjanesic@usf.edu
 
In my Critical Pedagogy and Curriculum doctoral level class, I like to use one of Paulo Freire’s favorite teaching and learning activity which was writing the pedagogical letter.  Students love this assignment and actually write the letter to someone they know personally or to some politician or activist raising one of the key ideas of Critical Pedagogy touching on themes of social justice.  I would like to share this assignment with you now and please feel free to adapt as needed if it makes sense to you. 

Writing the Pedagogical Letter

 7-10 pages, with at least 5 references from the texts we are using in class especially based on your readings from our first text, Curriculum pedagogy: Where are we now?

One of Paulo’s favorite formats of communication was through letters. He described in these letters his political, sociological, ideological, philosophical, and contextual beliefs, values and ideas. Most of his final text, Pedagogy of Indignation, evolved and is generated from these pedagogical letters over the course of a lifetime. These letters contained his hope his emotions, and his sensibility. This first written assignment for the course asks that you do the same.

The Letter:

 a) Select someone you would like to write to and explain your critical pedagogical beliefs regarding an educational issue you care about, and how you apply these beliefs in your everyday world.     Please emphasize a social justice issue.  For example, some students have written to their own children, their grandparent, a spouse, a significant other, another student or some historical figure, like Mother Jones or Eleanor Roosevelt, a current politician like Jan Brewer of Arizona, or someone who has inspired or upset the writer. Some have written to Paulo Freire himself or one of the authors in our text, Critical Pedagogy: Where are we now? Spend time thinking and writing.  Lay out the main principles of critical pedagogy which pertain to the critical issue of the day.

b)  Share your letter with your group or someone in class.

c)  Be prepared to have a one page handout for distribution to the class stressing the major points of your letter and the reference to our text when appropriate.

Many students have reported that they have received a response letter and also that this generates quite a few discussions.  Here is one way to make Paulo’s work live on today. 

 
 
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Related Resources
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Paulo Freire Democratic Project:   http://www.chapman.edu/PFDP 

Paulo Freire Institute of South Africa:  http://www.ukzn.ac.za/cae/pfi/index.htm 

The Paulo and Nita Freire International Project for Critical Pedagogy: http://freire.education.mcgill.ca/

 
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