Paulo Freire and the education of working people

Maria Margarida Machado, Professor, Faculdade de Educação, Universidade Federal de Goiás, Goiânia, Goiás, Brazil.

In the context of the celebrations of Paulo Freire’s Centennial, the presence and influence of this Patron of Brazilian Education in the formation of many educators is highlighted. The study used as a research method the memory that pass through the steps of the researcher, as a teacher, in the education of working people, initially as a literacy teacher in Culture Circles, in the 1980’s and 1990’s, becoming a researcher and educator of teachers of Youth and Adult Education in public education networks, in addition to the contribution and testimonials of other people involved in the analyzed experiences, which were supported by documentary and bibliographic sources, allowing the reconstitution of the trajectory of educational practices and their connections with the Freirean education proposal.

The paper “Culture Circles and EJA: Paulo Freire’s Presence in the Education of Female Workers”, published in the journal Educação & Sociedade (vol. 42), is autobiographical in nature (BOLÍVAR, 2002), but it is also a production that sought to assume the collective dimension of the analyzed experiences. What we call the reconstruction of the physiognomy of events of educational practices supported by concepts of individual and collective memory, life stories, memories, which, safeguarding their nuances, are triggered to assist the understanding of the meanings produced by the reflected experiences (FERRAROTTI, 2011). We start in this reflective process, borrowing an expression often used by Freire, of a “knowledge of experience made”, to problematize the experience as locus of knowledge.

The adult literacy practices in Culture Circles, presented in the article, occurred in the context of the 1980s and 1990s, in the suburbs of the Federal District, using the Freirean referential for literacy through generative words (FREIRE, 1967, 1987; FÁVERO, 2012). Such practices unfolded into political actions (PEREIRA; TÔRRES, 2015) in defense of the education of working people in public schools, reaffirming the challenge posed by Freire (2001) of, based on the experience of the progressive militancy of the Circles of Culture, seeking forces to continue training progressive teachers.

The actions and reflections that start from the literacy initiatives and reach the defense of the popular public school for workers, recalled in this article, are connected to the reaffirmation of the importance of the struggle in defense of Brazilian public education, so threatened in the current contexts by conservative and revisionist discourses, which even try to disqualify Paulo Freire and his contributions as the Patron of this education.

Leia mais

BOLÍVAR BOTÍA, A. “¿De nobis ipsis silemus?”: Epistemología de la investigaciòn biográfico-narrativa en educación. REDIE [online]. 2002, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 1-26. ISSN 1607-4041 [viewed 9 November 2021]. Available from:

FÁVERO, O. As fichas de cultura do Sistema Paulo Freire: um “Ovo de Colombo”. Linhas Críticas [online]. 2012, vol. 18, no. 37, pp. 465-483. e-ISSN: 1981-0431 [viewed 9 November 2021].  Available from:

FERROAROTTI, F. Las histórias de vida como método. Acta Sociologica [online], 2011, no. 56, pp. 95-119, ISSN: 0186-6028 [viewed 9 November 2021]. Available from:

FREIRE, P. Educação como prática da liberdade. Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra, 1967.

FREIRE, Paulo. Pedagogia do oprimido. 17. ed. Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra, 1987.

FREIRE, Paulo. Política e educação: ensaios. 5. ed. São Paulo: Cortez, 2001. (Coleção Questões de Nossa Época, vol. 23.)

PEREIRA, M.L.P. and TÔRRES, M.M. Relações entre a Universidade de Brasília e o Movimento Social Grupo de Trabalho Pró-Alfabetização de Jovens e Adultos do DF (GTPA) / Fórum de Educação de Jovens e Adultos (EJA) do DF – tensões e desafios de um longo e permanente caminho de lutas. In: RÊSES, E.S. (ed.). Universidade e movimentos sociais. Belo Horizonte: Fino Traço, 2015.

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To read the article, access

MACHADO, M.M. Círculos de cultura e EJA: presença de Paulo Freire na educação de trabalhadoras. Educação & Sociedade [online]. 2021, vol. 42, e254978 [viewed 20 December 2021]. Available from:


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MACHADO, M.M. Paulo Freire and the education of working people [online]. SciELO in Perspective: Humanities, 2021 [viewed ]. Available from:


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