Flavian Prince and Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Flavian Prince is using this film as part of his mentoring program.

I had lunch today with Flavian Prince, filmmaker, educator, world traveler and general creative being.

The man sheds jobs more frequently than snakes skin.  He tells me he sleeps, so I’m going to trust him, but it’s hard to believe how much life he crams into a single day.  To give just a smattering of his activities, he plays and coaches rugby, is working on his doctorate, is consulting at an area school and developing a transformational mentoring program.  

That says nothing of his traveling, which recently took him to Des Moines and Denver domestically, and is slated to see him go to Cambodia and the Philipines over the summer.

We first met through Dunreith when he was working at John Harvard Elementary School in Englewood.  At that time, Flavian was also working on a documentary film, Interrupt the Pipeline, about the experience of young people who moved from their homes in the Chicago Housing Authority to Champaign through the Plan for Transformation. Many of these young people ended up in the system’s alternative schools, where Flavian was teaching.  From there, many went to prison.

Flavian ultimately used the film as part of Project M.A.R.O.O.N.S., a holistic mentoring program with academic, social, work and spiritual components.  He drew heavily on our work at the Reporter in developing the program’s curriculum, which provides resources for students to understand policy issues that impact their lives, like school funding, violence and teen pregnancy. 

He is now implementing the curriculum at a charter school in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood, and reports that he is having considerable success.  Flavian spoke with urgency and excitement about a young mother, who is reading Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed and making potent connections between the Brazilian’s writing, her life and her community.

Specifically, she spoke about Freire’s concept of banking education in which students are vessels into which information is dropped.  Flavian said she has realized through her reading and the program, which embraces students’ culture rather than trying to change them, that, far from being vessels, she and others in the community have much to offer each other and the world.

It’s powerful stuff and definitely worth more than a 300-plus word blog post, even though that’s what I’m supplying for the moment.   I look forward to meeting Flavian’s student and to taking another look at Freire’s provocative and influential work.


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