University of Cambridge > > Pedagogy, Language, Arts & Culture in Education (PLACE) Group Seminars > ‘Possible Dreams: Paulo Freire and Utopian Education’

‘Possible Dreams: Paulo Freire and Utopian Education’

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Paulo Freire’s work always had a strong utopian flavour. Freire addressed the theme of utopia directly in his writings but he also sought to bring a utopian worldview to life in his teaching and political activism. In the first part of this paper I outline some of the main elements of Freire’s ontology, epistemology and ethic, and comment briefly on key principles in Freirean pedagogy. The second section focuses in a more extended way on the meaning of utopia in Freire’s educational theory and practice. I then identify some of the major critiques of Freire’s work. In concluding, I consider the relevance of Freire’s ideas for educationists in the contemporary world.


Peter Roberts is Professor of Education at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. His primary areas of scholarship are philosophy of education and educational policy studies. He has published widely in international journals. He is the author or editor of ten books, the most recent of which include Paulo Freire in the 21st Century: Education, Dialogue, and Transformation (2010), The Virtues of Openness: Education, Science, and Scholarship in the Digital Age, with Michael Peters (2011), and From West to East and Back Again: An Educational Reading of Hermann Hesse’s Later Work (2012). Professor Roberts is Director of the Educational Theory, Policy and Practice Research Hub at the University of Canterbury, and Vice-President of the Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia. In 2010 he was a Canterbury Fellow at the University of Oxford, and in 2012 he has been an inaugural Rutherford Visiting Scholar at Trinity College, Cambridge.

This talk is part of the Pedagogy, Language, Arts & Culture in Education (PLACE) Group Seminars series.

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