education as conscientization

Wikepedia states the following about “conscientization.”

The term Conscientization comes from the Portuguese term Conscientizacão. Paulo Freire used the term Conscientizacão in his book Pedagogy of the Oppressed, written in 1970.

Conscientization refers to a type of learning which is focused on perceiving and exposing social and political contradictions. Conscientization also includes taking action against oppressive elements in your life as part of that learning. Conscientisation proceeds through the identification of “generative themes”, iconic representations that have powerful emotional impact in the daily lives of learners. In this way it helps end the “culture of silence” in which the socially dispossessed internalise the negative images of themselves held by the oppressor in situations of extreme poverty. Liberating learners from this mimicry of the powerful, and is resulting fratricidal violence, was a major goal of Conscientisation. This is a major part of Paulo Freire’s problem posing education or Popular Education (In Brazil it is called pt:Educação popular)

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Learning Styles

Now that Seth is in pre-school, we’ve been thinking about our children’s learning styles more than ever. Seth, Jacob, and Nathan are all quite different, which is really cool. I’ve always been very interested in learning theories. In case you’re interested, here are some of my favorites are Kolb, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument, and Felder-Silverman Learning Styles.

observing people

Coaching and counseling university students over the years, we’ve really enjoyed helping them think about their strengths, talents, and styles of leading and communicating. Every person is infinitely unique. Even still, there are some intriguing similarities among our personality types. Over the past 3000 years, significant thinkers have all independently observed and identified four primary categories of personality. In case you’re interested, here’s a brief list of some pre-20th century thinkers and their observations.

Galen, a doctor during the Roman empire, identified four humors: Sanguine (optimistic), Melancholic (doleful), Choleric (passionate), Phlegmatic (calm).

Around 400 B.C., in his book entitled The Republic, Plato wrote about the four temperaments (in terms of virtue) attributed to Hippocrates: Iconic (artistic), Pistic (caretaker), Noetic (idealist), Dianoetic (rationale).

Aristotle observed four types and defined his in terms of happiness: Hedone (sensual), Propraietari (asset gathering), Ethikos (moral) and Dialogike (investigatory).

Paracelsus, a Viennese doctor in the 1500’s, observed four spirits similar to what Galen and Plato offered: Salamanders (impulsive and changeable), Gnomes (industrious and guarded), Nymphs (inspired and passionate), Sylphs (curious and calm).

Interesting huh?


If you’re like me, you often find yourself in “note-taking” situations in meetings, lunches or classrooms. I’m a bit of a visual learner, and there are a few strategies that seem to help me retain ideas and how they relate. One is called “mind-mapping” and you can read a great explanation of it on This website has some amazing resources for problem solving, time management, information skills, decision making, project management, communication skills, and creativity. Check it out.

Back to mind-mapping. Basically, it is a way to show the structure of a subject and its related pieces. “A good Mind Map shows the ‘shape’ of the subject, the relative importance of individual points and the way in which one fact relates to other.” For me, this is an even more effective brainstorming tool. I’ve found this to be very helpful as we are piecing together ideas about starting an NGO/alatpitvány in Hungary.

Write your subject in the middle of the page. Connect your subheadings. Third and Fourth levels of information and facts are connected to your subheadings. I love the organic nature of this method. The structure of your ideas will naturally grow and reveal itself. gives a few ways to improve the effectiveness of your mind-map: use single words or simple phrases, use color, use symbols, and cross-link identical ideas. Try it out!

johari window

In 1987, Kouzes and Posner did some extensive research in preparation for their book entitled The Leadership Challenge. In this research they asked what characteristics people find most admirable in leaders. There were only four traits which received over 50% of votes: honest, 87%; inspiring, 68%; competent, 58%; forward-looking, 71%. Other research has also shown honesty to be the runaway winner and the most valued characteristic in a leader.

People can intuitively sense honesty and authenticity. It’s a matter of being “real.” This “realness” breeds a culture full of grace, truth, common purpose.

The Johari Window gives a nice picture for how honesty and feedback can grow in a person or culture. Each of us posesses qualities which are either public (top-left), private (bottom-left), blind (top-right), or unknown (bottom-right). The public window pane contains things about me which are know to myself and others. The blind window pane contains things others know about me, but which I don’t know about myself. It’s sort of the “spinach in the tooth” or “bad breath” window. The private window pane represents things I know about myself but which others don’t. These are the skeletons in the closet. The unknown window pane represents things about me that neither I nor others are aware of.

The very simple thought is that honesty and openness to the input of others are pathways to authenticity…which is a powerful thing. It’s the growth of character. It’s common sense really, but it can be easy to forget and hard to practice.