Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Published in Paulo Freire and Multilingual Education: Theoretical Approaches, Methodologies, and Empirical Analyses in Language and Literacy, edited by Sandro R. Barros and Luciana C. de Oliveira (New York & London: Routledge, 2022), pp. 158–175.

DOI: 10.4324/9781003175728-12


Copyright © 2022 Kara Mitchell Viesca, Peiwen Wang, Brandon Heinz, and Alexa Yunes-Koch.


In 2019, Bettina Love published a call for abolitionist teaching, an effort for educational freedom and racial justice. In her work, she centered the role of theory in teaching calling it a "North Star." She suggested that theory provides teachers a "steadfast tool" that explains the experiences of people minoritized due to racism, sexism, ableism, linguicism, etc., as well as provides language for and knowledge about intersectional issues of injustice. Love literally calls theory a "practical guide" as well as a "location for healing" (Love, 2019, p. 132).

The work of Paulo Freire has long served as the kind of practical guide and location for healing as well as steadfast tool that Bettina Love centers in abolitionist teaching. In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freire (1994) forwarded important ideas that have become core theories for socially just teaching and learning. Specifically, he argued, "Authentic liberation—the process of humanization—is not another deposit to be made in men. Liberation is a praxis: the action and reflection of men and women upon their world in order to transform it" (p. 79). This notion of liberation as a praxis has long taken root in educational spaces dedicated to social justice and equity. Specifically, ideas from Pedagogy of the Oppressed, like the

importance of reading the world not just the word, striving for the end of oppression (not just the oppressed to become the oppressors), and pedagogical practices that make this possible by blurring the lines between teachers and learners, have long influenced the theoretical and empirical work in education generally as well as in the context of preparing teachers to work with multilingual students specifically (e.g., Huerta, 2011; Solórzano & Yosso, 2001).

For instance, though not conceived explicitly in Freirean terms, a recent review of the literature (Viesca et al., 2019) reified the arguments stated above from Pedagogy of the Oppressed. This review analyzed the preparation of teachers to work with multilingual students in general education classrooms as well as the research on teaching multilingual students in general education classrooms through a complex, nonlinear, theoretical lens. The analysis resulted in an argument for a complex teaching assemblage for multilingual students and their teachers to account for context, orientations, and pedagogy. While not expressly articulated as such in the review, the kind of attention to context suggested is reflected in Freire's idea to read the world, not just the word. Similarly, the arguments around orientation in the review relate to Freire's suggestion that the oppressed not become the oppressors, rather the goal is liberation and the end of oppression for all. And finally, the arguments around pedagogy, related to both the arguments above as well as Freire's blurring of the lines and boundaries between the identities and practices of teachers and students. Whether explicitly named as such, Freire's philosophies and ideas are constantly being (re)turned to and discussed in varying contexts for the purpose of creating liberation as praxis.