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Freire was born September 19, 1921 to a middle class family in Recife, Pernambuco. Freire became familiar with poverty and hunger during the GreatDepression of the 1930s. In 1931 the family moved to the less expensive city ofJaboatão dos Guararapes, and in 1933 his father died. In school he ended up four grades behind, and his social life revolvedaround playing pick up football with other poor children, from whom he learned a great deal. These experiences would shape his concerns for the poor and would help to construct his particulareducational viewpoint. Freire stated that poverty and hunger severely affected his ability to learn. This influenced his decision to dedicate his life to improving the lives of the poor: “I didn't understandanything because of my hunger. I wasn't dumb. It wasn't lack of interest. My social condition didn't allow me to have an education. Experience showed me once again the relationship between socialclass and knowledge" (Freire as qtd in Stevens, 2002) .[1]
Eventually his family's misfortunes turned around and their prospects improved.
Freire enrolled at Law School at the University of Recife in1943. He also studied philosophy, more specificallyphenomenology, and the psychology of language. Although admitted to the legal bar, he never actually practiced law but instead worked as a teacher insecondary schools teaching Portuguese. In 1944, he married Elza Maia Costa de Oliveira, a fellow teacher. The two worked together for the rest of their lives and had five children.
In 1946, Freirewas appointed Director of the Department of Education and Culture of the Social Service in the State of Pernambuco. Working primarily among the illiterate poor, Freire began to embrace a non-orthodox...
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