Technology and dialogue

Throughout chapters 1 and 3 of Pedagogy of the Oppressed, a few things stood out to me that Freire didn’t raise as explicitly linked to technology, but that seemed relevant given last week’s conversation. First, if we (naïvely) view technology – or content and use derived from technology – as neutral, than perhaps it could fit into a Freirean worldview as an enabler of dialogue, one which could be “constituted and organized by the students’ view of the world” with content that “constantly expands and renews itself” (p109). If we presume that content isn’t distorted by external influences and power structures, than the sort of ground-up education — in which context is respected and intellectual queries arise individually and internally — could be enabled by technology. Of course, given our conversations last week, we know this problematic, and that technology doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Freire eloquently addresses this (Cultural Action and Conscientization, p63):

“Let it be clear, however, that technological development must be one of the concerns of the revolutionary project. It would be simplistic to attribute responsibility for these deviations to technology in itself. This would be another kind of irrationalism, that of conceiving of technology as a demonic entity, above and opposed to men. Critically viewed, technology is nothing more nor less than a natural phase of the creative process that engaged man from the memento he forged his first tool and began to transform the world for its humanization.”

I didn’t get a full read on Freire’s views on technology from the selected pieces. In Cultural Action and Conscientization, there was clear concern about the potentially subversive nature of technology and media (see the quoted part in Zach’s agency paragraph), but no outright dismissal or antagonism. Instead, caution. That’s echoed elsewhere, including in a piece that summarizes some of Freire’s views on technology by Richard Kahn and Douglas Kellner:

This is not to say that Paulo Freire sought to adopt computers uncritically, rather his policy was formed as a result of a political and pedagogical strategy that sought to intervene in the status quo of a multimediated age. Though the rhetoric surrounding computers in education is often ebullient, Freire countered that he had worries about infused technology, fearing ‘that the introduction of these more sophisticated means into the educational field will, once more, work in favor of those who have and against those who have not’ (Gadotti, 1994, p. 79). To this end, he was concerned that the science and technology of technocapitalism was increasingly producing knowledge representative only of ‘little groups of people, scientists’ (Darder, 2002, p. ix). That most people, in either the First World or the Third, have neither the ability to produce a computer, nor even to manufacture or manipulate the software upon which computers run, was in his opinion antidemocratic and dangerously unparticipatory.

The whole piece is worth a look — and it also discusses Illich.

1 thought on “Technology and dialogue

  1. This Kahn & Kellner piece is awesome! Nice find.

    To this end, he was concerned that the science and technology of technocapitalism was increasingly producing knowledge representative only of ‘little groups of people, scientists’ (Darder, 2002, p. ix).

    Definitely reminds me of last week’s readings, which were just that — discussions of very specialized groups, speculating on the future of tech in the world. Nice connection!

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