In response to:

Why We Must Abolish Schooling from the July 2, 1970 issue

To the Editors:

Readers of the piece by Ivan Illich in the July 6 issue of The New York Review may be interested in following up one of the references offered in that writing. The reference was to Paolo Freire, a Brazilian educator now living in forced exile in Geneva, having been first imprisoned, then ejected, by the military junta. His crime, and the apparent reason for his exile, was to have enabled thousands of illiterate campesinos in Northeast Brazil to learn to read and write in approximately forty days and to have done this by a brilliant methodology of a highly charged and politically provocative character.

Freire’s ideas are presented in the lead article of the May, 1970, Harvard Education Review and are continued, in greater detail, in the August issue. During the present month, both pieces will appear, with an additional preface, as a small book or monograph under the joint imprint of the Harvard Education Review and the Center for the Study of Development and Social Change in Cambridge.

I am writing to you because I believe Freire’s ideas to be directly relevant to the struggles we face in the United States at the present time, and in areas far less mechanical and far more universal than basic literacy alone. In the past year Freire has addressed himself often to an analysis of the degrading qualities of public education in the United States and, while he has been obliged to abstain from direct political involvement during his visits here, he has engaged in extensive conversation with many of us concerning the nature of the problems we now face.

His coworkers in Cambridge are now beginning to work directly with some of my coworkers in the Black and Puerto Rican communities of Boston to bring his ideas to bear on the problems of cultural oppression in the public schools….

I would like to urge many of my friends and coworkers who are readers of The New York Review of Books to write directly to the Center for the Study of Development and Social Change, 1430 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Mass. 02138, in order to obtain copies of the Freire monograph. They are available at $2.00 each. “The Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” a longer work, will be published by Herder and Herder in November.

Jonathan Kozol


This Issue

October 22, 1970