Praxis: developing a popular education model in Ireland by Margaret Crean

Margaret Crean’s ‘PRAXIS: developing a popular education model in Ireland’, originally written in 2008 and made available here, represents a vital intervention into the discussion around the role of pedagogy in social change in the concrete context of Dublin today. The paper was developed within the context of the Praxis collective, which brings together community activists and radical educators focusing on the possibilities of popular education in challenging the existing model of formal education. Drawing extensively on the work of Paulo Freire, as well as feminist practices of conscientisation, Praxis believe that drawing on experiences of oppression and exploitation can facilitate a form of education that challenges the dominant and all too pervasive ideological consensus.

As well as setting out the specific role of popular education in relation to the current ideological context in Ireland, Crean’s paper engages with the problems thrown up around community development and, indeed, the notion of community itself. Community development, which represents (or at least once did) probably the most significant social movement in Dublin over the last decades, has become entangled with mechanisms of state governance, reducing it to a service provider and fomenting profesionalisation. Rather than falling into the trap of supporting or dismissing community development, Crean argues that we can defend the necessity of services provided by community organizations while recognizing the need for a renewed political engagement outside of the current logic of community development and the ‘partnership’ model. She describes this as ‘the possibility of claiming a space alongside the more instrumental aspects of community education and community development’ and insists on the continuing importance of community as a space of political intervention.

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