Paulo Freire, Ph.D.

Personal Vita

June 25, 2001

Complied by Susan L. Cooke


Paulo Freire

Pablo Freire

Pablo Reglus Freire Snows

[source: Roger Hiemstra]

Bio/historical Note

Born in Recife, the capital of Pernambuco Province in Northwestern Brazil. Devout Catholic parents, Joaquin Temistocles Freire and Edeltrudes Freire Snows raised him together until his father (Joaquin) died when Paulo was 13. It was the reversal in family fortunes and the never-ending hunger he experienced that is credited for his devotion to the less fortunate. Paulo himself remained a devout Christian. The youngest of four children, Paulo’s mother taught him to read by writing letters and drawing pictures in the earthen yard. Became a grammar teacher while still in high school. Married Elza Maia Costa de Oliveira, an elementary school teacher in 1944. Had five children, three of whom became educators. Graduated from the University of Recife. In 1962 he was appointed national coordinator of adult literacy by the Governor of Pernambuco Province. This was a large-scale literacy campaign aimed at both agricultural workers and the urban poor. In 1964 after a coup he was placed in prison for seventy-five days. Another coup freed him and he fled to Chile. His first wife, Elza died in 1986. He later was remarried former student and fellow radical educator, Ana Maria Araujo.

[Sources: Waugh, Colin. Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed; and Bentley, Leslie. Dr. Paulo Freire; ;]

Birth Date

September 19, 1921

[Source: Bentley]

Death Date

May 2, 1997, of a heart attack in Rio de Janeiro. He was 75 years old.



Oswaldo College Cross, Recife

University of Recife

Enrolled in Faculty of Law, studied philosophy and the psychology of language; passed the bar

Earned his doctoral degree in 1959, University of Recife


Work History

Worked part time while in college as an instructor of Portuguese in a secondary school.

1940’s - Affiliated with the Catholic Action Organization, Welfare official

1946 - Director of the Department of Education and Culture of the Social Service in the Pernambuco Province

1964 - Worked in the Christian Democratic Reform Movement in Chile and the Chilean Agrarian Reform Corporation

1969 - Visiting professor, Harvard University

1970-1980 - Special educational advisor to the Department of Education, World Congress of Churches; Geneva, Switzerland advised national literacy efforts in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa, Sao Tome and Nicaragua

1980-1986 - Supervisor of adult literacy project for the Workers’ Party in Sao Paulo, Brazil, associated with State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) and the Pontifical University Catholic of Sao Paulo

1988 - Minister of Education for the City of Sao Paulo

[Sources:; and Paulo Freire Institute]

Associated Subjects

Adult literacy


Revolutionary or radical education

Associated People

Tom Heaney

Myles Horton

Donaldo Macedo

Daniel Schugurensky

[Sources:; ; introduction to anniversary issue of Pedagogy of the Oppressed, copyrighted 2000, by Donaldo Macedo, pages 11-26.]


Freire received honorary degrees from twenty-seven universities.

In 1991 the Paulo Freire Institute was created in Sao Paulo, Brazil that congregates scholars in permanent dialogue that would foster the advancement of new educational theories and concrete interventions in reality. This work is carried out by 21 scholarly nuclei located in 18 countries. Their website is

King Balduin prize for International Development, Belgium, 1980.

Outstanding Christian Educators (with his wife, Elza) in 1985. UNESCO

1986 Prize for Education for Peace.

Andres Bello Prize, Educator of the Continents, Organization of American States, 1992

[Source: and Paulo Freire Institute]


Written Alone:

Education for Critical Consciousness. New York: Continuum, 1993.

Letters to Christina: Reflections on My Life and Work. Trans. Donaldo Macedo. New York: Routledge, 1995.

Pedagogy in Process: The Letters to Guinea-Bisseau. New York: Seabury Press, 1978.

Pedagogy of Hope: Reviving Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Trans. Robert R. Barr. New York: Continuum, 1995.

Pedagogy of the City. Trans. Donaldo Macedo. New York: Continuum, 1993.

Pedagogy of the Heart. New York: Continuum, 1997.

Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Trans. Myra Bergman Ramos. Rev.ed. New York: Continuum. (1973) 1994. (Special anniversary edition 2000).

Present-day Education in Brazil, Ph.D. thesis, 1959.

The Politics of Education: Culture, Power and Liberation. Trans. Donaldo Macedo. South Hadley: Bergin and Garvey, 1985.

Written With Others:

Castells, M., Flecha, R. Freire, P. Giroux, H., Macedo, D., & Willis, P. Critical Education in the New Information Age. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 1999.

Escobar, M., Fernandez, A., Freire, P, & Guervara-Niebla, G. Paulo Freire on Higher Education. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994.

Faundez, A., & Freire, P. Learning to Question: A Pedagogy of Liberation. Trans. Tony Coates. New York: Continuum, 1992.

Freire, P., Fraser, J., Macedo, D. McKinnon, T., & Stokes, W. Mentoring the Mentor: A Critical Dialogue With Paulo Freire. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.

Freire, P., & Horton, M. We Make the Road By Walking: Conversations on Education and Social Change. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990.

Shor, I., & Freire, P. A Pedagogy for Liberation: Dialogues on Transforming Education. MA: Bergin and Garvet, 1987.

Supportive Bibliography and Resources

Books and Articles:

Caulfield, P. J. "From Brazil to Buncombe County: Freire and Posing Problems." The Educational Forum, 55(4), 1991, 307-317.

Collins, D. E. Paulo Freire: His Life, Works and Thought. New York: Paulist Press, 1997.

Elias, J. L. Paulo Freire:Pedagogue of Liberation. Malabar, FL.: Kreiger Press, 1994.

Freire, A. M. A., & Macedo, D. (Eds.). The Paulo Freire Reader. New York: Continuum.

Gadotti, M. Reading Paulo Freire: His Life and Work. New York: SUNY Press, 1994.

McLaren, P., & Lankshear, C. (Eds.). Politics of Liberation: Paths From Freire. London: Routledge, 1994.

McLaren, P., & Leonard, P. (Eds.). PauloFreire: A Crtitical Encounter. London: Routledge, 1993.

Shor, I., (Ed. ). Freire for the Classroom: A Sourcebook for Liberatory Teaching. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook, 1987.

Taylor, P. The Texts of Paulo Freire. Buckingham: Open University Press, 1993.

Web Links: (An homage to Paulo Freire) (An article by Tom Heaney) (book reviews by Professor Daniel Schugurensky)

[Source: Susan L. Cooke]

Modified on May 6, 2002

-- Cross-reference to Project Vitae in Adult Education

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