Love is an act of courage – Education is freedom

“Because love is an act of courage, not of fear, love is a commitment to others. No matter where the oppressed are found, the act of love is commitment to their cause — the cause of liberation.” – Paulo Freire

As we enter 2021 many of us are searching for inspiration for the year ahead. A way to take the challenges of 2020 and learn from them to move forward. Last year’s rise of the Black Lives Matter movement highlighted the ongoing issue of racism in our society. The Covid-19 pandemic had a direct impact on the education of many children and young people across Ireland, forcing many children to be educated at home, separated from their class mates. These realities remind us that never before has intercultural education in schools been more important.

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) Guidelines for schools highlights that intercultural education serves us in two ways: “It is education which respects, celebrates and recognises the normality of diversity in all areas of human life. It sensitises the learner to the idea that humans have naturally developed a range of different ways of life, customs and worldviews, and that this breadth of human life enriches all of us.

It is also education which promotes equality and human rights, challenges unfair discrimination, and promotes the values upon which equality is built. Intercultural education is a synthesis of the learning from multicultural and anti-racist education approaches that were commonly used internationally from the 1960s to the 1990s,” a time when prolific educator Paulo Freire wrote his famous publication ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’ in 1970.

Paulo Freire advocated for the importance of educating towards love and acceptance of others, away from fear and ignorance on a path to freedom. Paulo Freire believed “Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.”

As we step forward now in 2021, with covid-19 still set as one of the biggest challenges for education  we need to ensure we continue to work together to support diversity, inclusion and anti-racism practices in all forms. Let’s make a commitment to learning more about each other, from each other. Asking questions, choosing love and acceptance over fear.

“No one educates anyone else nor do we educate ourselves, we educate one another in communion in the context of living in this world” – Paulo Freire