The Views of Paulo Freire and Jean Jacques Rousseau

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Paulo Reglus Freire was born September 19th, 1921, he came from a poor family in Recife Brazil. Freire became familiar with poverty and hungry during the ‘Great Depression’. These experiences shaped his concern for the poor and hunger ultimately influenced his decision is to construct and enter the education field. Freire stated that poverty and hunger severely affected his ability to learn. This influenced his decision to dedicate his life to improving the lives of the poor. According to Paulo Freire that his experiences taught him the relationship between social class and knowledge. Freire published his first book in 1968, education as the practice of freedom and followed by his most famous book Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

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His field consider to be a pedagogue and educational philosopher/ theorist and the most known influencer with radical education theories in the 20th century. His work has exercised influenced among progressive educators all over the world, in the context of emerging tradition of critical pedagogy issue-based earning and social constructivism. His impact upon peace education adult education, non-education and critical literacy thus regards to critical pedagogy perspectives of education. He called it the oppressed whereby, transforming their situation in life by thinking critically about reality and then take action. He believed that educational system played a central role in maintain oppression thus it had to be reformed in order for things to change for the oppression.

Freire is known for against on what he called the banking concept of education, this traditional form of education it is the job of the teacher to deposit in the minds of the students, viewed as an empty account, the bits of information that constitute knowledge. He notes that ‘it transforms students into receiving objects. The goal of banking education is to immobilize the students within existing frameworks of power by conditioning them to accept that meaning and are the sole property of the teacher. For example, in the classroom the teacher is called teacher-centred, this is where the teacher writes on the board notes and student just write the notes from the board. Students are not interacting with their classmates or no hands-on approach on the topic. In my experiences, at primary school level, my teacher was mostly a teacher centred, give notes on the board little amount of explanation. Most of the work where concrete rather than student-centred.

Freire’s strongly dislike the teacher-student separation. This split is admitted in Rousseau and constrained in Dewey, thus Freire stands firmly that it should be completely abolished. Advocate stated that this is impossible without enactment of the teacher-student relationship in the parent-child relationship, but Freire suggests is that a deep reciprocity be inserted into our notions of teacher and student. Freire wants us to think in terms of teacher-student and student-teacher, that is, a teacher who learns and a learner who teaches, as the basic roles of classroom participation such as group work, presentation, discussion and demonstration.

Problem-posing is a method of education suggested by Paulo Freire. Model on teacher and student become co-investigators of knowledge. In education, whole learning is driven by a problem that pop up from the life situation of the learners thus, learning always begins from a problem thrown up in the classroom. Students should be asked what they want to learn rather than teacher manipulating students and liberating teachers invites students to think which allows creativity. Freire’s stated that a student-centred system of learning that challenges how knowledge is constructed in the formal education system and in society. Student centred approach stands in stark contrast to conventional educational practice.

Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), was born of upper-class parentage in the Protestant city of Geneva. His father, a watchmaker, was descendent from a Parisian family. The mother of Rousseau was of a morbid and sentimental disposition. She died at the birth of Jean Rousseau. He was an 18th century philosopher who later became known as a revolutionary philosopher on education and a forerunner of Romanticism. He believed that natural education promotes and encourages qualities such as happiness, action, and investigated childhood. He wanted children to be protected from societal pressures and influences so that each child could emerge and grow without any corruption.

Rousseau theory of human development, according to Rousseau there was one developmental process common to all humans. The differences from Locke’s tabula rasa was an active process deriving from the child’s nature, which drove the child to learn and adapt to its surroundings. He believed that children are allowed to develop naturally without constraints imposed on them by society they will develop towards their fullest potential, both educationally and morally. This natural development should be child-centered and focused on the needs and experiences of the child at each stage of development. He published in his famous work Emile published in 1762.

His own conclusions from his own experience as discovery learning, therefore all students are perfectly designed, ready to learn from their surroundings so as to grow into adults. Influence of corrupt society, they often fail to do. Rousseau disagrees on educational method which consisted of removing the child from society and alternately conditioning through changes to environment and setting traps and puzzles to overcome.

His point of view in education deals with more at the early childhood stage emerged as a child-centered entity rich in unlimited, sensory-driven, practical experiences. Active participation in hands-on, drawing, measuring, speaking, and singing also emerged as a result of Rousseau’s viewpoint. In Today world, Rousseau’s theory is a dominant force in early childhood education. Ideas of education programmes where young people can adapt and are motivated to learn from their environment and experiences. Rousseau argues that function of the educator needs to be controlled considering age appropriate, developmental stage, the child should remain in complete ignorance of those ideas which are beyond his/her grasp.

The activities which naturally from the needs of life form the curriculum at each stage. First come play and sports, which improve the body, bringing health, strength and growth. Then, the child engages in securing a livelihood, for example in Agriculture science, the child learns to handle the spade, hoe, hand shove and fork purpose to do crop production. These activities lead to counting, measuring, weighing and helps them gain experiences on the field to distinguish the purpose of each tools. Provide an environment for the child so that they can follow or innate in order for desire to learn. Restlessness in time being replaced by curiosity, mental activity being a direct development of bodily activity. The child learn things from experience, but also needs guidance at different stages in its life, can learn things by imitating, from society, where it helps the child to develop those social qualities are influences.

The environment develops opportunities for new experiences and expression for personal development even today as it did in the 18th century. We lived in an unstable society and it is impossible to control the student as it is difficult to manipulate the environment as Rousseau did, but parents are actively engaging the minds of their children in their earlier years to fashion them no matter the setting. Despite the challenges that exist today education aims at improving the morality and values as suggested by Rousseau.

In conclusion, Paulo Freire aspects on philosophy have been highly domainat in academic debates over ‘participatory development’ and development generally. Freire’s emphasis on freedom through interactive participation used as a rationale for the participatory focus of development, as ‘participation’ in any form can lead to empowerment of marginalizes groups. While oppression argue undemocratic, unequal nature of development any possibility of Freire emancipation, but hold on to to the ’empowering potential’ of development. He is mostly against the banking system concept in the classrooms, in which teachers deposit information to students as empty vessels. Students need to be involved in classroom participation in order for learning to take place while also teachers guided learning stated by Paulo Freire. Jean Rousseau theory of human development and how each stage contributes to the education system, students learn in different stages whereby learn through society around the child-centred entity rich in unlimited, sensory-driven, practical experiences. Active participation in hands-on, drawing, measuring, speaking, and singing also emerged as a result of Rousseau’s viewpoint. Most importantly Rousseau’s conception of the child as an active learner was already a step away from the tabula rasa basically the same as the ‘banking concept” by Paulo Freire, were strongly critical of the transmission of facts on goal of education.


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  • Glavin, C. (2018, September 26). Paulo Reglus Neves Freire. Retrieved from
  • (2019). Jean-Jacques Rousseau on nature, wholeness and education | [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Oct. 2019].
  • (2019). Jean-Jacques Rousseau | K12 Academics. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Oct. 2019].
  • Paulo Freire (1921–1997) – Conceptual Tools, Philosophy of Education, Criticism. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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