August 12, 2010 at 8:23 pm | Posted in Books, Brazil, Economics, Globalization, History, Philosophy, Research | Leave a comment










Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Paulo Freire (Author)

Myra Bergman Ramos (Translator)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This text argues that the ignorance and lethargy of the poor are the direct result of the whole economic, social and political domination. The book suggests that in some countries the oppressors use the system to maintain a ‘culture of silence’. Through the right kind of education, the book suggests, avoiding authoritarian teacher-pupil models and based on the actual experiences of students and on continual shared investigation, every human being, no matter how impoverished or illiterate, can develop a new awareness of self, and the right to be heard.

Product Details:

· Paperback: 183 pages

· Publisher: Continuum; 30 Anv Sub edition

· September 2000

· Language: English

· ISBN-10: 0826412769

· ISBN-13: 978-0826412768

The most widely known educator in the world died on May 2, 1997. Paulo Freire leaves a legacy of dogged struggle for democracy, equality, and the social consciousness required to envision and retain a more just world. In his most widely read book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freire detailed the role of education as a political force—for either liberation or domination. He argued that the process of liberatory education, reflecting the specific intersections of an educator, a student, and a community, must be a process of unveiling, questioning the central issues of life: work, culture and the construction of knowledge. He opposed his pedagogy to “banking ” practices, rote memorization of the teacher’s facts, which he insisted only reproduce injustice by aculturing the student to passivity. A critical education, in contrast, assists the students in methods to unravel her world–and the words which hide or expose its realities, While Freire was never able to resolve the shipwreck contradiciton of socialism, critical consciousness versus national economic development, his insistence on the need for new styles of education and leadership, coupled with his own lifetime of activism, leave an indominatable testimony of hope. Most educators want to change the world. Freire did.

In the early 1970’s, Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire, visited Harvard and published an English translation of his best known work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

His general critique of education presented an analysis which challenged the neutrality of the technological model dominant in American schools. He argued that any curriculum which ignores racism, sexism, the exploitation of workers, and other forms of oppression at the same time supports the status quo. It inhibits the expansion of consciousness and blocks creative and liberating social action for change.

In Freire’s view of education, learning to take control and achieving power are not individual objectives, as in a “boot strap” theory of empowerment. For poor and dispossessed people, strength is in numbers and social change is accomplished in unity. Power is shared, not the power of a few who improve themselves at the expense of others, but the power of the many who find strength and purpose in a common vision. Liberation achieved by individuals at the expense of others is an act of oppression. Personal freedom and the development of individuals can only occur in mutuality with others. In the experience of women’s groups, civil rights workers, and many others committed to liberatory action, collective power and collegiality protect the individual far more than authoritarian and hierarchial modes of organization.

While Freire’s theoretical framework gave many community-based educators grounds for hope, it was his pedagogy–the practical, how-to-do-it methods–which gave them sought-after tools for the reconstruction of urban adult education. Freire advocated dialogue and critical thought as a substitute for “banking” education in which the riches of knowledge were deposited in the empty vault of a learner’s mind. He suggested several pedagogical techniques based on the mass literacy campaigns he organized in Brazil and Chile–campaigns integral to broadly defined programs of revolution and social change. It was these techniques which many literacy and basic education programs immediately incorporated into their practice: reflection on the political content of learner’s day-to-day experience, the organization of “culture circles” which promote dialogue and peer interaction, and the use of “people’s knowledge” as the basis for curriculum.

What does knowledge contained within the “banking” form of education have to do with the reality of the oppressed? Freire’s discussion of this concept brought to mind a passage in Robert Kaplan’s book The Ends of The Earth in which he discusses a school in India where people were taught things pertinent to their lives, such as sustainable agriculture and literacy; things that help them shape their own reality and find their places within that reality (Freire, 75.) What is reality and who determines it? Freire argues that reality is an always changing, transitory process with dialogue and critical thinking at its heart. Reality is not motionless, static, compartmentalized or predictable. Teachers make it seem as though it is. In light of this, what is the appropriate education for the oppressed or for anyone?

Freire states that education is a subversive force. In particular education is both subversive and real when it is liberating. “Education as the exercise of domination stimulates the credulity of students, with the ideological intent (often not perceived by educators) of indocrinating them to adapt to the world of oppression” (59.)Whereas, “Liberating education consists in acts of cognition, not transferrals of information” (60.) Most tellingly, “Problem posing education does not and cannot serve the interests of the oppressor. No oppressive order could permit the oppressed to begin to question: Why?” (67.) Indeed, problem posing education is a form of education which provides a method of finding meaningful problems and solutions for those receiving the education; not a way to oppress those attempting to gain education. The oppressors basically do not wish for the oppressed to think for themselves; similar to how advertisers attempt to plant ideas in the consumer’s subconscious mind and give him/her notions about providing for the ease of things being done for them, pre-made. The oppressors do not want the oppressed to have the education that is based on experiential learning. A pre-made education is one which will keep the oppressed oppressed and without freedom. True education is a practice of freedom (77) and requires that the oppressed apprehend and intervene in reality (90.)

Conscientizacao is a central concept to Freire’s conclusions. Ther term is described as “learning to perceive social, political, and economic contradictions, and to take action against the oppressive elements of reality” (17.) Freire states that some perceive conscientizacao as a danger. Conscientizacao involves knowing and naming the reality around you and interpreting that reality with critical analysis. In a sense it is a state of becoming fully conscious.

“Unity and organization can enable them to change their weakness into a transforming force with which they can re-create the world and make it more human.” This book is an excellent work providing prescriptive evidence about how the oppressed might go about creating their own reality to overcome oppression, seizing education, true education, as a path to freedom.

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Paulo Freire (Author)


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