Paulo Freire: A Brief Biography

Paulo Freire (1921-1997)

One of the most important educators the world has seen in the last 50 years, Paulo Freire, who was born in Recife, Brazil, is that rare human being whose thought has stood the test of time, continually having an influential impact across the globe. Often referred to as the “father” of critical pedagogy, Freire’s influence cannot be overstated, especially on those who can be characterized as critical pedagogues, hailing from a variety of disciplines. 

While in exile in Chile it was the publication of Freire’s landmark 1968 work Pedagogia del Oprimido (Pedagogy of the Oppressed) that placed him on the proverbial map. Later published in English in 1970, Pedagogy of the Oppressed has been translated into over a dozen different languages, with 30 editions in print, and over a million sold, the book has drawn and continues to draw an eclectic readership from a host of people from around the world. Freire went on to publish a variety of other books, numerous articles, and was tireless in traveling the world over in spreading a message of love, justice, and truth.

Pedagogy of the Oppressed explores multiple themes related to the exploitive nature of political, social, religious, and educational systems that summarily marginalize groups of people. In addition to “denouncing” oppressive structures, Freire simultaneously “announces” ways in which the oppressed can be moved to a place of critical consciousness through processes that promote a democratizing climate. In sum—although not withstanding his numerous later brilliant works—Pedagogy of the Oppressed is perhaps the best and most concise presentation of the critical aspects of Freire’s philosophy.