Schooling is undemocratic (Teese & Polesel 2003), student achievement is stable at best and in decline at worst and our students are bored at school. Meanwhile many people are passionate about education and have lots of experiences to draw on but somehow we do not know how to create a dialogue to forge real educational change driven by people and place. "It's the students, stupid!" - is this a beginning conversation? But no, not another event where we are talked at and spoon-fed what the answers should be. We are inviting people to interact, really and in real time in one place and face to face!
Seems like a luxury? What could this dialogue look like? Freire once said: "Dialogue with the people is neither a concession nor a gift, much less a tactic to be used for domination. Dialogue, as the encounter among men to "name" the world, is a fundamental precondition for their true humanization." (Paulo Freire, The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, p. 118). We want to talk about Freire that is we want to talk about you, your school, your student, your workplace, your community. But is Freire inspiring educators and citizens? Can we or should we revive his ideas, complement them with others and/or contest them? Do we really understand the political nature of education in all its complexity? Would Freire help us to rethink democratic and educational engagement? How do we link the history of 'good things' in education such as empowerment, liberation and social progress with engagement, learning and dialogue?
We are attempting to enact a Freirean methodology in this event, by inviting dialogic submissions only. While we recognise that this might cause some confusion, or be unusual, we consider these productive challenges! No, we really don't want to run another conference. We wish to move away from the 'banking model' which Freire cautioned us against. The banking model of education, he says, is an approach to learning and teaching in which the teacher 'deposits' information into the mind of the learner, in a mono-directional relationship that is neither dialogic, nor interactive. The Popular Education Network of Australia (PENA), and indeed the Freire Unloaded event, stands in stark contrast to this notion of learning, and in the spirit of debate, discussion and de-revolution, we hope you will join us.
To get us started, we have invited Antonia Darder to give a public lecture on Friday night and then on Saturday, you do the talking and we join you and we listen to each other. To enable this learning process and dialogue, we ask you to contribute in the following way:
- pose a question
- tell a story/sing a song
- give a performance
- offer a workshop
- suggest a role play
- present a poster
- give a paper
Please submit a contribution by January 10th 2012 and let us know if you'd like to attend: firstname.lastname@example.org
We hope to see you in April.
Your PENA organising committee