In early autumn this year, I visited the Freire Institute in England as part of a multi-professional group trip from Espoo. The purpose of the visit was to attend a course about Paulo Freire’s thinking as an educator and philosopher. Additionally, we wanted to learn about the relevance of Paulo Freire’s work today and how it could apply to teaching, social work and social rehabilitation practices.
A Brazilian educator and philosopher, Freire was a leading advocate of critical pedagogy. Paulo Freire’s work has influenced people working in education, community development and community health amongst many other fields. One of the key elements of Freire’s pedagogy is dialogue. Knowing this, I took ‘Dialogue Blocks’ with me and demonstrated some of their practical applications during the course. The course included participants from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), which meant that we could benefit from dialogue with individuals external to our Finnish multi-professional group. We used dialogue blocks as a means to understand the elements of dialogue and to collectively explore what we see to be the most important aspects of dialogue. We had interesting discussions as a result of working with the blocks. As Freire has alluded to, dialogue fosters mutual respect and trust. There were some interesting conversations about Finnish and English culture. For example, the concept of ‘restraint’ seems to have more value in Finnish culture than in British culture today. After the dialogue session we participated in a drama exercise. The dialogue blocks were used in this exercise. In summary, my first experiences of using the Dialogue Blocks in English were encouraging.
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