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50 Paulo Freire Quotes from the Great Educator

He helped open people’s minds to a new way of learning as you’ll see in these Paulo Freire quotes.

Paulo Freire grew up in a poor community where the difficulties and challenges of poverty and hunger were real. His poor living situation impacted the way that he was able to perform and learn in school. This gave him great insight into some ideas that would change the way many people viewed education.

Not only was he a teacher, but he married a teacher, and several of their children became teachers. He believed that students could either passively take in the information they were being told or that there was a better way of learning that allowed students to combine learning with the world around them. This transformed the education system and experience for many. Enjoy these Paulo Freire quotes!

Don’t forget to also check out these education quotes about the power of learning.

Paulo Freire Quotes About Education

1. “Education is freedom.” – Paulo Freire

2. “Education is an act of love, and thus an act of courage.” – Paulo Freire

3. “Reading is not walking on the words; it’s grasping the soul of them.” – Paulo Freire

4. “Liberating education consists in acts of cognition, not transferals of information.” – Paulo Freire

5. “To study is not to consume ideas, but to create and re-create them.” – Paulo Freire

6. “Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate the integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.” – Paulo Freire

7. “One cannot expect positive results from an educational or political action program which fails to respect the particular view of the world held by the people. Such a program constitutes cultural invasion, good intentions notwithstanding.” – Paulo Freire

8. “It is not systematic education which somehow molds society, but, on the contrary, society which, according to its particular structure, shapes education in relation to the ends and interests of those who control the power in that society.” – Paulo Freire

9. “Education must begin with the solution of the student-teacher contradiction, by reconciling the poles of the contradiction so that both are simultaneously teachers and students.” – Paulo Freire

10. “Learning is a process where knowledge is presented to us, then shaped through understanding, discussion, and reflection.” – Paulo Freire

11. “Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.” – Paulo Freire

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Paulo Freire Quotes About Teaching

12. “Whoever teaches learns in the act of teaching, and whoever learns teaches in the act of learning.” – Paulo Freire

13. “The educator has the duty of not being neutral.” – Paulo Freire

14. “I cannot be a teacher without exposing who I am.” – Paulo Freire

15. “To teach is part of the very fabric of learning.” – Paulo Freire

16. “The teacher is no longer merely the-one-who-teaches, but one who is him/herself taught in dialogue with the students, who in turn while being taught also teach. They become jointly responsible for a process in which all grow.” – Paulo Freire

17. “Educators need to know what happens in the world of the children with whom they work. They need to know the universe of their dreams, the language with which they skillfully defend themselves from the aggressiveness of their world, what they know independently of the school, and how they know it.” – Paulo Freire

18. “Whether the teacher is authoritarian, undisciplined, competent, incompetent, serious, irresponsible, involved, a lover of people and of life, cold, angry with the world, bureaucratic, excessively rational, or whatever else, he/she will not pass through the classroom without leaving his or her mark on the students.” – Paulo Freire

19. “Teacher preparation should go beyond the technical preparation of teachers and be rooted in the ethical formation both of selves and of history.” – Paulo Freire

20. “Although the teachers or the students are not the same, the person in charge of education is being formed or re-formed as he/she teaches, and the person who is being taught forms him/herself in the process. …There is, in fact, no teaching without learning.” – Paulo Freire

21. “This is the road I have tried to follow as a teacher: living my convictions; being open to the process of knowing and being sensitive to the experience of teaching as an art; being pushed forward by the challenges that prevent me from bureaucratizing my practice; accepting my limitations, yet always conscious of the necessary effort to overcome them and aware that I cannot hide them because to do so would be a failure to respect both my students and myself as a teacher.” – Paulo Freire

22. “The teacher is of course an artist, but being an artist does not mean that he or she can make the profile, can shape the students. What the educator does in teaching is to make it possible for the students to become themselves.” – Paulo Freire

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Inspirational Paulo Freire Quotes

23. “No one is born fully-formed: it is through self-experience in the world that we become what we are.” – Paulo Freire

24. “Without a sense of identity, there can be no real struggle.” – Paulo Freire

25. “To speak a true word is to transform the world.” – Paulo Freire

26. “The world is split between those who do not sleep because they are hungry and those who do not sleep because they are afraid of those who are hungry.” – Paulo Freire

27. “No one can be authentically human while he prevents others from being so.” – Paulo Freire

28. “No reality transforms itself.” – Paulo Freire

29. “Only through communication can human life hold meaning.” – Paulo Freire

30. “Reflection and action must never be undertaken independently.” – Paulo Freire

31. “Submission to suffering is a form of annihilation, but the transformation of suffering rekindles a faith that gives life.” – Paulo Freire

Paulo Freire Quotes About Dialogue

32. “If the structure does not permit dialogue the structure must be changed.” – Paulo Freire

33. “Dialogue cannot exist without humility.” – Paulo Freire

34. “Faith in people is an a priori requirement for dialogue.” – Paulo Freire

35. “Through dialogue, the teacher-of-the-students and the students-of-the-teacher cease to exist and a new term emerges teacher-student with students-teachers.” – Paulo Freire

36. “Dialogue cannot exist, however, in the absence of a profound love for the world and its people.” – Paulo Freire

Paulo Freire Quotes About Democracy

37. “Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.” – Paulo Freire

38. “To glorify democracy and to silence the people is a farce; to discourse on humanism and to negate people is a lie.” – Paulo Freire

39. “The more people participate in the process of their own education, and the more people participate in defining what kind of production to produce, and for what and why, the more people participate in the development of their selves. The more people become themselves, the better the democracy.” – Paulo Freire

40. “It is truly difficult to make a democracy. Democracy, like any dream, is not made with spiritual words but with reflection and practice. It is not what I say that says I am a democrat, that I am not racist or machista but what I do. What I say must not be contradicted by what I do. It is what I do that bespeaks my faithfulness or not to what I say.” – Paulo Freire

Paulo Freire Quotes About Freedom and Liberation

41. “The greatest humanistic and historical task of the oppressed: to liberate themselves.” – Paulo Freire

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42. “The oppressed, having internalized the image of the oppressor and adopted his guidelines, are fearful of freedom.” – Paulo Freire

43. “Liberation is a praxis: the action and reflection of men and women upon their world in order to transform it.” – Paulo Freire

44. “One of the gravest obstacles to the achievement of liberation is that oppressive reality absorbs those within it and thereby acts to submerge men’s consciousness.” – Paulo Freire

45. “Any situation in which some men prevent others from engaging in the process of inquiry is one of violence;… to alienate humans from their own decision making is to change them into objects.” – Paulo Freire

46. “Liberation is thus a childbirth, and a painful one.” – Paulo Freire

47. “Attempting to liberate the oppressed without their reflective participation in the act of liberation is to treat them as objects that must be saved from a burning building.” – Paulo Freire

48. “Freedom is acquired by conquest, not by gift. It must be pursued constantly and responsibly. Freedom is not an ideal located outside of man; nor is it an idea that becomes myth. It is rather the indispensable condition for the quest for human completion.” – Paulo Freire

49. “Because love is an act of courage, not of fear, love is a commitment to others. No matter where the oppressed are found, the act of love is a commitment to their cause–the cause of liberation.” – Paulo Freire

50. “The oppressed, instead of striving for liberation, tend themselves to become oppressors.” – Paulo Freire

What did you learn from these Paulo Freire quotes?

There are a lot of ways that the world around us impacts our lives, including in the way that we learn. Instead of simply sitting and taking the information we are being fed, Paulo Freire believed in the importance of critical thinking and the problem-posing approach. He believed that it was beneficial not just for the students but for the teachers as well.

Paulo Freire believed that people already had a base level of understanding from their life experiences and that this needed to play a role in their education and development. If you’re interested in learning more about Paulo Freire and his ideas and theories, he wrote several books that you can dive into.

What’s your biggest takeaway from these Paulo Freire quotes and sayings? Do you have any other favorite quotes to add? Let us know in the comment section below.

Stephanie Kirby
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