ERIC Number: EJ1002462
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Reference Count: 0
Teaching with Pensive Images: Rethinking Curiosity in Paulo Freire's "Pedagogy of the Oppressed"
Lewis, Tyson E.
Journal of Aesthetic Education, v46 n1 p27-45 Spr 2012
Often when the author is teaching philosophy of education, his students begin the process of inquiry by prefacing their questions with something along the lines of "I'm just curious, but ...." Why do teachers and students feel compelled to express their curiosity as "just" curiosity? Perhaps there is a slight embarrassment in proclaiming their curiosity, which, in its strongest formulation, appears to be too assertive, too aggressive, or too inappropriate to speak in public in front of others. In this sense, curiosity is itself problematic, something to be slightly ashamed of. While the problem of confronting "just curiosity" is of general concern, it forms the epistemological question driving Paulo Freire's "Pedagogy of the Oppressed." If there is a philosophy of mind in Freire's work, it must begin from a careful analysis of curiosity as the central cognitive process that either enables or disables critical consciousness raising. To begin to understand Freire's work, and how he poses his project against "just" curiosity, one can follow two lines of investigation. Recently, the work of Daniel Cho has problematized the ontological dimension of Friere's analysis of curiosity. For Freire, people are all born with "spontaneous curiosity," which is then either transformed into "epistemological curiosity" through critical pedagogy or "anesthetized" by banking pedagogy. Importantly, this notion of naive or spontaneous curiosity is inherently linked to one's ontological unfinishedness. For Cho, Freire's mistake lies in his recourse to ontological arguments concerning curiosity. Cho proposes a provocative countermodel that founds curiosity in a traumatic event rather than human nature--thus shifting Freire's materialism from ontological considerations of the human to language and signification. While agreeing with Cho in many respects, the author's project in this article takes aim at another key assumption in Freire's argument: his connection between curiosity and epistemology. In this paper, the author will argue that curiosity is better located on the register of aesthetics. The implications for this shift will be examined through the work of Jacques Ranciere, whose reflections on the politics of aesthetics provide a countermeasure to Freire's interpretation of curiosity. In the end, the author proposes that curiosity in any form is always implicated in politics, and that the politics of curiosity concern the distribution of the visible and the invisible, the audible and the inaudible. It is by rethinking the relationship between curiosity and politics through both Freire and Ranciere that one can begin to understand how a critical intervention into the world is not simply the unveiling of social reality through critical consciousness raising but rather is a redistribution of the sensual through perceptual alternation. (Contains 60 notes.)
Descriptors: Personality Traits, Aesthetics, Epistemology, Politics, Critical Theory, Consciousness Raising, Artists, Teacher Role
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
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