A letter for Professor Freire regarding Professor Torres promotion to Associate Professor
São Paulo, Brasil, September 29,1991.
Dear Professor Alkin:
I have been asked to comment on Dr. Carlos Alberto Torres academic work, in regard to his application for promotion to Associate Professor with tenure. I am very happy to do so.
I have known Dr. Torres since we started exchanging letters and research papers in 1975. I was then working for the World Congress of Churches in Geneva, and he was doing research on my Pedagogy of the Oppressed, in his native country, Argentina. I had the opportunity to meet him personally in Brazil, 1980. Since then, I have had the opportunity to participate with him in many educational activities, and I know him and his family very well.
From the out set, let me say that I am exceptionally impressed with his commitment to scholarship, the depth and originality of his analysis and his sound character. An exceptionally productive scholar, he has written and/or edited four books about my own pedagogy and philosophy of education. I consider this work as a serious contribution to the understanding of my thought. Three of his books in Spanish have also been translated and published in Brazil.
I find Dr. Torres writings very systematic, rigorously organized, and imaginative. The exegesis and criticisms of my work is helping him to draw his own innovative and analytical approach to pedagogy and politics in Latin America. Although he is not a philosopher by training, he has been able to discuss critically my epistemological and philosophical perspective, drawing on his own clearly formulated analytical model which is rooted in Critical Theory.
A political sociologist by training, Dr. Torres has addressed correctly the key sociological issues I have discussed in my own work.
Dr. Torres is fairly unique also in the sense that he combines the Latin American intellectual tradition – with his training in analytical-empirical sciences in a leading American University. At Stanford University, Dr. Torres learned methodological techniques and social theories which allow him to link quantitative and qualitative analyses. The combination of these two intellectual traditions, enhances the depth of his analysis and the richness of his work.
A researcher by training and vocation, Dr. Torres has published numerous research articles in refereed journals, and many books. I have read some of his most recent work including The Politics of Nonformal education in Latin America and The State, Corporatist Politics and Education contributions to scholarship.
Dr. Torres” research on political sociology of education has becoming influential in Latin America, and three of his books are currently being translated by prestigious publishers in Brazil. In fact, I have such a high regard for his work, that I have accepted to engage with him in many hours of conversations about my life, work and ideas, for a forthcoming book that Dr. Torres is writing on my educational perspective. Judging for the first four chapters I have seen, I believe this book will be landmark in studies in critical pedagogy.
Dr. Torres’ ability as a researcher does not preclude him to be a very effective teacher. He has strong communication skills, and a extraordinary ability to work with other colleagues and students. I think he has a strong commitment to teaching. Many of his former students have told me that they were very fortunate having Dr. Torres as their teacher or adviser.
I addition to be an excellent scholar, researcher and teacher, Dr. Torres is a forceful organizer. He has immense energy, great discipline, and good administrative and planning skills. These skills and his intellectual capacity have helped him to organize a number of excellent academic meetings. For instance, I still remember very well the meeting he almost single-handedly organized while still being a doctoral student at Stanford University in 1983. The meeting was co-chaired by Carlos Torres and Professor Martin Carney. The idea of this meeting was to discuss my work. Thanks to Carlos’ dynamic leadership, the meeting evolved onto a major dialogue about pedagogy and politics. Dr. Torres, Jointly with Professor Arturo Pacheco, an excellent Chicano Philosopher, and Professor Carney, have organized prior to my arrival, a two-weeks seminar to discuss at length with the participants, the historical, political, epistemological and educational aspects of my work. When I encountered the group, I felt that such a meeting was one of the best I have ever participated. During the next two weeks, I had a fantastic time, with challenging questions and comments from participants and organizers. I experienced a similar feeling of satisfaction with Dr. Torres organization of a series of symposiums at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) meeting in Chicago, last April. I was invited by Dr. Torres to participate in the AERA meeting, and afterwards to deliver the Charlie Chang Lecture at the Graduate School of Education at UCLA. The intellectual minds of graduate students and faculty at UCLA- Graduate School of Education. But, I insist, it also should be credited to Dr. Torres tremendous organizational skills, research agenda and intellectual vision.
In brief, I consider Dr. Carlos A. Torres a distinguished scholar who, very early in his academic career, has already established himself as one of the best experts in the field of education in Latin America. He is highly regarded in comparative education, and UCLA is very fortunate to have him on the faculty.
In closing, let me emphasize that at my university, the Catholic University of Sao Paulo, Dr. Torres would be placed very high in the academic rank, as a full professor. I will strongly support his promotion with tenure, most enthusiastically and without qualification.
Professor Paulo Freire
Rua Valenca, 170
São Paulo, (01.254), Brazil