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Pedagogy of the Oppressed

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First published in Portuguese in 1968, Pedagogy of the Oppressed was translated and published in English in 1970. The methodology of the late Paulo Freire has helped to empower countless impoverished and illiterate people throughout the world. Freire's work has taken on especial urgency in the United States and Western Europe, where the creation of a permanent underclass among the underprivileged and minorities in cities and urban centers is increasingly accepted as the norm. With a substantive new introduction on Freire's life and the remarkable impact of this book by writer and Freire confidant and authority Donaldo Macedo, this anniversary edition of Pedagogy of the Oppressed will inspire a new generation of educators, students, and general readers for years to come.

192 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1968

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About the author

Paulo Freire

135 books1,144 followers
The Brazilian educator Paulo Freire is among most the influential educational thinkers of the late 20th century. Born in Recife, Brazil, on September 19, 1921, Freire died of heart failure in Sao Paulo, Brazil on May 2, 1997. After a brief career as a lawyer, he taught Portuguese in secondary schools from 1941-1947. He subsequently became active in adult education and workers' training, and became the first Director of the Department of Cultural Extension of the University of Recife (1961-1964).

Freire quickly gained international recognition for his experiences in literacy training in Northeastern Brazil. Following the military coup d'etat of 1964, he was jailed by the new government and eventually forced into a political exile that lasted fifteen-years.

In 1969 he was a visiting scholar at Harvard University and then moved to Geneva, Switzerland where he assumed the role of special educational adviser to the World Congress of Churches. He returned to Brazil in 1979.

Freire's most well known work is Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970). Throughout this and subsequent books, he argues for system of education that emphasizes learning as an act of culture and freedom. He is most well known for concepts such as "Banking" Education, in which passive learners have pre-selected knowledge deposited in their minds; "Conscientization", a process by which the learner advances towards critical consciousness; the "Culture of Silence", in which dominated individuals lose the means by which to critically respond to the culture that is forced on them by a dominant culture. Other important concepts developed by Freire include: "Dialectic", "Empowerment", "Generative Themes/Words", "Humanization", "Liberatory Education", "Mystification", "Praxis", " Problematization", and "Transformation of the World".


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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,120 reviews
Profile Image for Jessica.
593 reviews3,387 followers
November 14, 2007
If you're into really sincere hippie guys, read this on the subway. They will swarm.

Warning: they'll swarm even if you're not into them, so keep an "Atlas Shrugged" jacket handy!

Actually, this book contains one of my guiding-light passages:

"Any situation in which some individuals prevent others from engaging in the process of inquiry is one of violence. The means used are not important; to alienate human beings from their own decision-making is to change them into objects" (85).

In my fascist state, that passage is tattooed -- in the original Portuguese -- on every single social worker, right before they head off into the field. Actually, why just the social workers, let's tattoo it on everyone, why not? It's a great line!

I also like the stuff about the oppressors being very damaged by their oppressing. It's a very helpful concept that explains a lot. The education stuff? Weeelllll.... I grew up in Berkeley, where I never learned any actual math, and I have a strong suspicion someone's ideas for the experimental math curriculum were influenced by Freire, sooooo..... I'm biased. If I'd had a little more banking education as a youth, I might not need to take off my shoes now to balance my checkbook!

It's hard to evaluate this book. It's kind of like the Beatles: I'm not really that into it, but where would we be today without its influence? It's impossible to know. That said, it's a little perplexing that a book about popular education should seem so willfully obtuse and difficult. This book is hard to get through. I didn't read all of it! Still, it's a good idea.
Profile Image for Teacherhuman.
132 reviews
May 12, 2012
Just finished my annual rereading of this book. Again, teachers in inner-city America, teachers on the plains, teachers in rural America--read or reread this book now. With attempts to oppress our students inside the classroom with more and more standardized crap, this is more than ever a must-read.

My original review:
Here is one of those books I think they oughtn't let a teacher in front of a secondary classroom without having read. Even the most affluent of our students in contemporary public education classrooms are oppressed to some degree. Oppression comes in many attractive wrappings. From the trite shite they are brainwashed to care about by the television, to the lies they hear about what their bodies must look like and what they must own to be somebody, I don't know how we ever humanize them anymore at all. Freire can be applied to every student...every classroom. Here was a man who was the real thing. A teacher. (May he rest...)
Profile Image for Ruben.
21 reviews7 followers
February 9, 2008
This is one of those books you have to masticate and digest rather than swallow without chewing. Freire makes a salad of education, dialogue, poverty, consciousness, and liberation. He shares how the powerful have historically dehumanized much of society through subtle yet oppressive means via the aforementioned themes. One of his most outstanding lines of reasoning derives from coming alongside of the poor as the starting point in authentic dialogue paving the way for true education and ultimately liberation of the oppressed.

There are many good thoughts throughout the book. In quoting some, I run the risk of minimizing the work. What the heck, I can't resist.

"A real humanist can be identified more by his trust in the people, which engages him in their struggle, than by a thousand actions in their favor without that trust." Ooaah.

"As beneficiaries of a situation of oprression, the oppressors cannot perceive that if having is a condition of being, it is a necessary condition for all men. That is why their generosity is false." Ouch!

"Liberating education consists in acts of cognition, not transferrals of information." Santo!

"To alienate men from their own decision-making is to change them into objects." Yea Vavey.
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,427 reviews8,336 followers
July 1, 2016
Such an important book for educators. In the United States, we waste so much time on standardized testing and coaching kids to value education only for an end goal (e.g., college admissions, job security). We forget to use learning as a tool for improving the world and uplifting marginalized voices. Just look at the upcoming presidential election. If more of us followed Paulo Freire's method of careful action and thought, I doubt we would see the vitriol and ignorance and hate so common in contemporary political discourse.

Freire argues that instead of just pouring facts into students' minds - and thus forcing them to view the world as everyone else does - we should form dialogue between teachers and students to facilitate critical thinking. Students should have a say in their education and they should understand the processes at work when it comes to creating their own education alongside their teachers. We should strive to make learning tangible and applicable, so students can see the merit of their efforts and how the knowledge they gain can change the world.

Sometimes Freire makes the relationship between oppressor and oppressed too dichotomous; I would argue that most of us inhabit both roles at any given time and must work to unlearn our oppressive tendencies. And I get that Freire's methods come across as idealistic and difficult to apply. However, we need his idealism to fuel some sort of change, or at least the beginnings of change. As someone who scored a perfect score on his AP Calculus exam in high school without knowing the real meaning or importance of an "asymptote" or a "derivative" or a "secant," I can say with some confidence that a lot of schools emphasize grades and memorization over process and understanding. Yes, we do have many amazing teachers and classes that do encourage critical thinking. But the overall system fails to facilitate the type of education Freire advocates for in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, one that views students as humans who deserve compassion and empowerment and love.

As a potential future professor I hope to apply some of this book's principles and I hope that others will too. A final quote about love and how it relates to forming dialogues between educators and students, the oppressors and the oppressed:

"Dialogue cannot exist, however, in the absence of a profound love for the world and for people. The naming of the world, which is an act of creation and re-creation, is not possible if it is not infused with love. Love is at the same time the foundation of dialogue and dialogue itself... because love is an act of courage, not of fear, love is commitment to others. No matter where the oppressed are found, the act of love is commitment to their cause - the cause of liberation. And this commitment, because it is loving, is dialogical. As an act of bravery, love cannot be sentimental; as an act of freedom, it must not serve as a pretext for manipulation. It must generate other acts of freedom; otherwise, it is not love. Only by abolishing the situation of oppression is it possible to restore the love which that situation made impossible. If I do not love the world - if I do not love life - if I do not love other people - I cannot enter into dialogue."
Profile Image for Mike.
34 reviews9 followers
January 10, 2014
I feel like its a cliche just rating it here at all, as if doing so stakes a claim to being progressive. I haven't read this text in some time, and although It did affect me when I did, I just worry that 5,000 people on the left have rated this book, and many of them will go into classrooms with the best of intentions only to recreate or reinvent oppression when they just can't understand why their students "don't get it" or "resist the liberation we're trying to give them."
I once applied for a job in a program for poor and even homeless people at a very progressive and well known college. I seemed to wow the search committee on the phone interview when I answered the question of "how do you bring social justice into the classroom" by saying that I wouldn't presume it was up to me to introduce social justice to this particular population (I was invited for a campus interview but turned it down for personal reasons, so I do think I must have supported my position well enough). Liberation pedagogy can too easily be translated into missionary education when teachers forget that their experiences and their values are not more important than those of their students or anyone else in the community. Freire is careful to note that the teacher and student must be partners in dialogue, but this is easily forgotten when the teacher, even the most well-intentioned liberation pedagog, enters the relationship with a goal in mind. Whether that goal is the ultimate liberation as conceived by the teacher (who thinks s/he knows what's best for the student) or the meeting of learning objectives, or merely slogging through the semester to let the student earn credits while the teacher bides her or his time until they can get to the research that really matters to them. I think this book covers most of the bases, but I have always had trouble reconciling the tendency to work toward an end goal of liberation as defined here when, in fact, a student may have other goals and other notions of liberation at heart. Perhaps the process is a longer one than our semester system can accommodate, and so each teacher can only do a small part in helping to undermine the system that stifles humanity. I do not think this text was written for people in public schools or universities or community colleges, and the principles can only be adopted if we relinquish hope of seeing results and instead take Freire's cue to learn from and with students in partnership, humbling ourselves and questioning our own supposed authority. Most importantly, I think it is important for all of us to think about the "profit" that comes from institutional education in the US. Freire wrote, "The oppressors use their 'humanitarianism' to preserve a profitable situation." The profit of the system is that of the ruling class, profiting by maintaining power relations in their favor, but if you think about it, even underpaid and overworked teachers profit by earning 1.) the prestige of being called a teacher in a society that claims to see the profession as noble and sacrificing, and 2.) of course the financial profit of the middle class life which in America means having the power to build a comfortable life of consumption. But at the university level there is also the profit of the institution which maintains its legitimacy by claiming to offer class mobility and the liberation of knowledge, but in fact, it is still a profitable institution financially because it provides jobs for teachers, administrators, and staff, and of course the largest profit comes from producing citizens conjured as subjects of institutional power, those who strive for the middle class values which benefit the dominant ideology.
I think this book is important and ought to be read, but it is more important to read it as a prompt to be perpetually critical and to extend that view to the entire concept of pedagogy, the institutions of education itself, and to ourselves as profiting from the system.
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.3k followers
March 28, 2016
Very little new can be said about Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Freire was exiled from Brazil in 1964 for having the temerity to help the poor in his native country begin to learn literacy in the context of taking action for themselves. Uneducated as many of the rural poor were (and still are), Freire thought that learning to read and write for them might be linked to actual community needs. His goal was cultural consciousness, self-efficacy, transformation, with love, and in the process, dignity.

Freire was highly influenced by (Catholic) Liberation Theology on behalf of the world’s neediest, now dismissed by the help of Fox News as any other kind of work for the poor as “class warfare” against the sadly maligned rich, or (shudder) socialism. The idea was that Jesus might just have been more of a socialist than, say, a venture capitalist. Preposterous! Where are their bootstraps? He was also highly influenced by Marxism, now dismissed by the neoliberal political philosophy of our day as hopelessly passé, comically “revolutionary”. Freire published this book in 1970, and it has never been out of print, largely because of lefty university professors hopelessly out of touch with the Need to Prepare Young People for Success in a Global Economy. People like me.

Some of Freire’s key ideas, starting with some of the problems:

*Oppression: This one is a little controversial now, in that in most postmodern thinking binaries such as oppressor-oppressed are not seen as useful. True, it’s a kind of essentializing that actually fails to respect that “the oppressed” may indeed have power, but that’s implicit in the theory’s message, finally, too. The good guys in the white hats scenario he sets up romanticizes the poor and demonizes the rich, okay, but you know, with a growing understanding of the 1% and increasing inequities worldwide, maybe a little demonizing is actually in order? “Leaders who do not act dialogically, but insist on imposing their decisions, do not organize the people--they manipulate them. They do not liberate, nor are they liberated: they oppress.”

*Malefic generosity: Charity; rich people giving poor people food rather than helping them raise crops for themselves. Makes the rich feel less guilty, and the poor emain disempowered. Work WITH the poor in dialogue to see what they need. Don’t assume what they need. A form of oppression, actually.

*Banking education: In contrast to literacy as an approach to active learning, banking education is passive, based on the theory that education takes place when teachers pour knowledge—deposit it, theoretically, as if this could actually be done--into empty student brains. Another form of oppression.

*Pedagogy: or learning, really, as a means of self-governance and for the purpose of working toward change, for equity. Not just learning facts, in other words, but learning in the context of contributing to social life. Learning, together, not just top-down teaching or lecturing. Learning as doing, and not just any kind of doing, but doing for improving the planet.

*Praxis: “Liberation is a praxis : the action and reflection of men and women upon their world in order to transform it.” Not just blind action (such as terror), and not just “verbalism” or intellectualism (which is the idea of “pure” vs. applied theory in academia), but praxis requires both thinking and reflecting together. Thoughtful action.

*The Word and the World. “To speak a true word is to transform the world.” Literacy learning is not just memorizing words or just making sentences as a kind of practice, but to take action on the world, to better it. Speaking true words about real problems is inquiry, where people actually learn through doing (Dewey) for themselves. You pose a problem and find the language to inquire into the problem and how to solve it.

*Problem-posing education: You start learning with inquiry, with actual qustions you need to answer, based in needs in your life and community. Learning shouldn’t be “preparation” for school, but be actual learning through life. Not abstractions, but concrete realities. Helping students to become more fully human, helping them see that they do not have dwell in ennui but can actually take action against inequities and injustice. “...to alienate human beings from their own decision-making is to change them into objects.”

*Dialogue: where learners dialogue with teacher-learners and the world itself. Dialogic education vs. monologic education, which is mainly what students do in school. Listen and take tests on how well they have listened. “Authentic thinking does not take place in empty thinking, in ivory tower thinking, but in communication.” “One must seek to live with others in solidarity. . . only through communication can human life hold meaning.”

*Critical consciousness: What you get from dialogic education, vs. Unconsciousness, which is what happens from being endlessly lectured to by (arrogant) teachers: “. . . to alienate human beings from their own decision-making is to change them into objects.” True learning requires intentionality, investment.

*Love: This is the Catholic in Freire, working in tandem with his emphasis on humility and doubt and caring. “If I do not love the world, if I do not love life, if I do not love people, I cannot enter into dialogue.” The basic tenor of the book is sweetness, goodness, love, compassion, commitment to justice.

This book I have read and “taught” in dialogue many times. I think it is ironic he includes so few examples of what he is talking about, though he does, and in various other books it gets clearer. For a guy opposed to “verbalism,” he talks quite a bit in abstractions, developing a theory apparently apart from practice. And today it almost seems hopeless to imagine a revolution among the world’s poor. Still, this is a great book, and maybe even more important than it was in the sixties for a world desperately needing solutions to so many problems.

“One of the basic questions that we need to look at is how to convert merely rebellious attitudes into revolutionary ones in the process of the radical transformation of society. Merely rebellious attitudes or actions are insufficient, though they are an indispensable response to legitimate anger. It is necessary to go beyond rebellious attitudes to a more radically critical and revolutionary position, which is in fact a position not simply of denouncing injustice but of announcing a new utopia. Transformation of the world implies a dialectic between the two actions: denouncing the process of dehumanization and announcing the dream of a new society. On the basis of this knowledge, namely, 'to change things is difficult but possible,' we can plan our political-pedagogical strategy.”
― Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics, Democracy, and Civic Courage

Profile Image for Vartika.
355 reviews592 followers
December 24, 2020
What danger can a book pose to authority? Enough to have been banned in apartheid South Africa, and to still be prohibited in several parts of the American continent including Tucson in the United States. Certainly enough to keep the far-right Bolsonaro government in Brazil railing to dismantle its author's legacy over 50 years after publication.

Perhaps the most important theoretical work written in the twentieth century, Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed finds a renewed relevance in our age of late capitalism, populist nationalism, and fake news. Recognising that the mental torpor of the oppressed towards subjugation is a conscious product of the economic, social, and political domination and paternalism to which they are subjected, Freire locates a radically different mode of education based on dialogue, cooperation and the development of critical consciousness as the path to liberation.

In a country like India, where society is structured on the remnants of British colonial education, it is especially easy to see how the models of education currently being followed across the globe; based on vertical teaching, rote-learning and standardisation—what Freire calls the Banking Concept of Education; are aimed at creating a rigidly conformist workforce that values stability above all else and internalises resisting any change that may favour it against the status quo. This can well be explained using this quote by Assata Shakur superimposed on a Peanuts comic:
Freire's answer to this problem is to question the 'giving' involved. Instead, he conceptualises a radically different model of learning where the 'teachers' and 'students' collaborate and commune with each other in investigating reality, approaching it not as lectures but in the form of problems to be solved.

Pedagogy of the Oppressed is not just about education but also the revolution—after all, true education is always liberatory. Freire's ideas are therefore serve as both a critique of and guidelines for the Left. One of his most important ideas is that concerning domination: that true liberation would be the end of oppression rather than the replacement of one oppressor with another; that revolutionary praxis must be radically different and dialogical. Again, the essence of his idea can be explained using the following statement made by Audre Lorde in 1984:
"[T]he master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change."
In general, Freire's ideas oppose hierarchies; whether between leaders and people or between theory and praxis; towards a radical, possible, transformative change.

Of course, certain aspects of this book are quite dated if looked at through the lens of postmodernity: Freire seems to posit oppression largely as a binary between oppressors and the oppressed, for instance. The complexity of language Freire uses seems also to be an issue, although I'm unsure if that's the text in general or the English translation.

If you can bear with that, however (and you should), Pedagogy of the Oppressed is an absolutely essential, paradigm-shifting read. Its ideas may not be as novel to readers today given its wide influence on leftist thought and action since 1970—it is the third most-cited social-sciences publication of all time—but they remain as potent and revolutionary as ever.
Profile Image for Lisa.
95 reviews157 followers
February 12, 2014
The oppressors do not perceive their monopoly on having more as a privilege which dehumanizes others and themselves. They cannot see that, in the egoistic pursuit of having as a possessive class, they suffocate in their possessions and no longer are; they merely have. For them, having more is an inalienable right, a right they acquired through their own "effort", with their "courage to take risks". If others do not have more, it is because they are incompetent and lazy, and worst of all is their unjustifiable ingratitude towards the "generous gestures" of the dominant class. Precisely because they are "ungrateful" and "envious", the oppressed are regarded as potential enemies who must be watched.
Paulo Freire wrote Pedagogy of the Oppressed in 1960s Brazil, but his critical theories extend to any society today whose heart beats to the drum of capitalism and consumerism. The book is eminently quotable and makes it point much better than I ever could, so in the spirit of dialogue (which is an instrument of liberation!), I will allow my own thoughts to dialogue with those of Senhor Freire.

The rich and the poor, the haves and the have-nots, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat - the theme of opposition between social classes is not new to sociology, nor is the idea that these vertical relationships result in a lack of opportunity and ultimate dehumanization of those at the bottom of the social ladder.
The means used are not important; to alienate men from their own decision-making is to change them into objects.
I hear echoes of Marx in the background, and Freire's nods to his Latin American communist brethren come as no surprise. The first step to changing this socially unjust order is to recognise its existence.
The pedagogy of the oppressed is an instrument for their critical discovery that both they and their oppressors are manifestations of dehumanization.
The pedagogy of the oppressed is akin to a commitment to social justice, resulting in an eventual transformation of an existing, unequal power structure. It all begins with education. Freire very meticulously outlines his theory of what education should be, in marked contrast to what it is: an oppressive form of "education" (read: indoctrination), which he terms the "banking" concept of education, because the teacher simply deposits tidbits of knowledge (or cash) into the student's head (bank account) without actually teaching the student to fish (sorry, these metaphors are tricky little buggers).
Any situation in which some men prevent others from engaging in the process of inquiry is one of violence.
What we need is a pedagogy that is "problem-posing", that engages students in dialogue and teaches people to ask questions. The goal of this broad-canvas curriculum is the gradual awakening of a critical consciousness. There is a criticism looming: are we not still using an us-them, teacher-student framework? The "teacher" in this scenario is engaged in the process alongside the "students", and is just as likely to come from the ranks of the oppressed as the oppressors, as everyone's consciousness is distorted by this oppressive power structure. It is key, however, for the leaders of the transformation to have unshakable trust in the people's inherent capabilities.

These ideas may seem great but obvious, or too theoretical, or dissociated from daily life in [insert your country here]. But Freire's pedagogical notions are applicable at the level of any helping relationship, revolution notwithstanding. I work with the homeless, and it is harder to imagine a subset of the population that is more acquainted with the injustices of poverty, powerlessness and dehumanization. It is far too easy for intervention workers to fall back on their degrees, their critical analysis of a situation, and develop the habit of telling a homeless person what they should do, rather than engaging in a veritable dialogue and placing trust in that person's experiential knowledge. It is commonplace to kindly dismiss the opinions of people who are mentally ill, or addicted to drugs or alcohol, and reinforce their powerlessness by making decisions for them, "in their best interest". Freire asks us to question this reflex, and reflect on how it adds to the predicament faced by marginalised people.
Self-depreciation is another characteristic of the oppressed, which derives from their internalization of the opinion the oppressors hold of them. So often do they hear that they are good for nothing, know nothing and are incapable of learning anything−that they are sick, lazy, and unproductive−that in the end they become convinced of their own unfitness.
Whether the message is direct or veiled, the end result is the same: the oppressed person knows their place, and is liable to stay there unless something can halt this chain of negative actions and reactions.

At its core, Freire's pedagogy is a process of working together. The transformation of a power structure needs to be a mutual process, involving both the oppressed and their oppressors.
But almost always, during the initial stage of the struggle, the oppressed, instead of striving for liberation, tend themselves to become oppressors, or "sub-oppressors". The very structure of their thought has been conditioned by the contradictions of the concrete, existential situation by which they were shaped.
This truth terrifies me. How is it that people born and bred in absolute poverty can go on to amass millions, flaunting their riches and living with their contradictions? How can promising young politicians be initiated into the very culture of corruption they professed to want to change? It is easier to cross the bridge to the other side than to change the entire landscape.

There will always be great resistance to change, because any situation of startling inequality works quite swimmingly for those at the top.
Conditioned by the experience of oppressing others, any situation other than their former seems to them like oppression. Formerly, they could eat, dress, wear shoes, be educated, travel, and hear Beethoven; while millions did not eat, had no clothes or shoes, neither studied nor traveled, much less listened to Beethoven. Any restriction on this way of life, in the name of the rights of the community, appears to the former oppressors as a profound violation of their individual rights−although they had no respect for the millions who suffered and died of hunger, pain, sorrow, and despair. For the oppressors, "human beings" refers only to themselves; other people are "things". For the oppressors, there exists only one right: their right to live in peace, over against the right, not always even recognized, but simply conceded, of the oppressed to survival. And they make this concession only because the existence of the oppressed is necessary to their own existence.
It is this belief in the right to live in peace, without restrictions, that drives the capitalist machine, collateral damage be damned. I'm looking at you, America.

I was more interested in Freire's views on oppression than fleshing out his pedagogical solutions, so forgive me for sidestepping the more technical aspects of his treatise and flying all over the map with this review. Pedagogy of the Oppressed is far more organised, I assure you, and a worthwhile mine of ideas for the sociologically inclined.
Profile Image for Marwa Assem Salama.
142 reviews31 followers
January 15, 2014
لأني لم أعد أجد قشعريرة ا��نشوة عند سماع الهتافات أو رؤيا المسيرة ....ويوما بعد يوم يصرخ فيّ صوتا أرجو له الإعدام : بربكِ ما نفعها الدماء إن كانت فقط معراجاً لمانحها إلى فردوسٍ لا يشكو ازدحام، وهوةً لسافحها إلى جحيمٍ يشتهي المزيد؟؟...ولو قامت بمثل ذلك فقط ألفُ ثورة وثورة ...ما الضامن لكِ بأن ما سنراه في المستقبل ليس من هذا الحاضر ببعيد؟؟...وكأنها كانت تساؤلات مريرةً أيضا هي ما دفعت (باولو فيريري) لأن يعيد هنا تعريف الثورة والثائر ...يقلبه بالأذهان رأسا على عقب...فلا يرتجي منك راحة الهادر بالحق قولا في وجه الناس...بل يطالبك بما في تعليمهم ذاك الحق عملا من نصب .. فإن كنت لابد ميتٌ فليس براحة الرصاص ... وإنما بما لاقيت في جهادك هذا من جهد جهيد ....فنِعم الثائر أنت حينها ونِعم الشهيد!! .... ..واما ذاك الذي استبدل موقعه بين الناس بعلو المنابر...فلا يضره حينئذ إن فضّلوا عليه عنفا في سبيل قهرٍ يألفوه ..إن كان كل ما تفضل به عليهم هو تعنيفٌ في سبيل تحررٍ يجهلوه !!...أقول قولي هذا وأستنكر نفسي قبلهم !!.. فلا طاقة لي بالرعناء والسفهاء وعبيد من غلب ...رغم عظيم إدراكي بأن لي من خصائصهم نصيب!! ... ولكن شفاعتي لله أن الصبورمعهم والحليم بهم بعينيّ نبي وإن مات على الفراش ....فأشرف خلق الله رحل هادئا على حِجر امرأة يحبها ...وكأن الدرس هنا أن العبرة ليست بالوفاة ثائراً بقدر ماهي أن تعيش صابرا على الناس و جهد الحياة ...والصابرون قليل!!..وأعلم الآن أكثر من أي وقتٍ مضى أن من ارتقى على الناس منزلا هو مستبدٌ آخر وإن لم ينطق إلا حقا...كل ماهنالك أن منبره كان أقرب درجتين. ..فهنيئا له إذن منصب القاهر النبيل.

ستعصف بعقلك حيرة من نوعٍ ما ، يزداد أوجها بالفصلين الأوليين حين يتحدث فيريري عن ما أسماه (التعليم البنكي) ، وهو ما يقصد به التعليم النظامي الذي يعمل على إيداع المعلومات بعقول الأفراد مع فروض الولاء ونذور الاستسلام للدولة عاما بعد عام ، ليصبح أشبه بماكينة لا تعطل في إنتاج مقهورين غاية طموحهم ومنتهى أملهم أن يكونوا يوما قاهريهم، وبعد أن كنت ترى لنفسك حظاً من سطر الإهداء كله ((إلى المقهورين ومن يقفون بصفهم)) ..ستقطف الصفحات بكفيك كوردة الحائر تسأل: أعن المقهور فيّ نفسي أقرأ أم عن القاهر؟؟.

يقول باولو فريري : (( ولما كان الناس قليلا ما يعترفون بخوفهم من الحرية فهم يميلون دائما إلى تمويه هذه الحقيقة، ربما دون وعي في بعض الأحيان بتنصيب أنفسهم مدافعين عنها ، فالذين يخافون الحرية ، يحاولون دائما أن يغلفوا شكوكهم في إطار من العقلانية والتدبر العميق الذي هو في حقيقته خوف من الحرية ، وفي معظم الأحيان فإن هؤلاء لا يرغبون للحرية أن تؤثر على وضعهم الاجتماعي الثابت فإذا كان الوعي يشكل تهديدا لهذا الوضع فإنه بالتالي في نظرهم تهديد للحرية ذاتها))

ينتقد المذهبيين سواء أكانوا يمنين أو يساريين فيقول : ((كلما ازددات راديكالية الإنسان كلما ازداد حبه لمعرفة المزيد عن الحقيقة وبذلك يستطيع أن يقوم بدور التطوير على أحسن وجه، فالراديكالي لا يخاف المواجهة أو الاستماع حبا في كشف المزيد عن حقيقة العالم وهو أيضا لا يخاف مقابلة الناس أو الدخول في حوار معهم، لأنه لا يعتبر نفسه مالكا للتاريخ أو محررا للمقهورين وإنما يعتبر نفسه محاربا في صفوفهم في إطار العمل التاريخي، وهكذا فإن (تعليم المقهورين) إنما عو عمل يقوم به الراديكاليون ولا يمكن أن يقوم به المذهبيون ، وقد يوجد من يتساءل عن أهليتي في مناقشة كيفية العمل الثقافي الثوري انطلاقا من اعتقاده بعدم خبرتي في هذا النوع من العمل ، وم�� حقي أن أقول أن عدم اشتراكي في عمل ثوري مباشر لا يجردني من رؤيتي في هذا الأمر ، وأضيف أن خبرتي كمعلم مارس مع الناس أسلوب التعليم الحواري وطرح المشكلات قد أمدتني بثرة مناسبة من الفكر تجعلني أجرؤ على خوض هذا الموضوع))

ثم يتحدث في مقاطع عدة عن ما يمكن إن قمت بتجميعه أن أسميه ( أخطاء الثورة للمبتدئين) ، فيقول هنا مثلا: (( ولا ننكر أن هؤلاء المعتنقين الجدد لقضايا المقهورين يريدون تصحيح ذلك الوضع غير العادل ولكنهم بسبب خلفيتهم الثقافية فإنهم يريدون احتكار هذا الدور لأنفسهم، إنهم يتحدثون عن الناس ولكنهم لا يثقون بهم ، والثقة بالناس فيما نعلم هي أساس التغيير الثوري ، فلا تتجلى النزعة الإنسانية في أبهى صورها إلا عند أؤلئك الذين يثقون بالناس، ذلك أن الثقة بالناس هي أجدى من ألآف الأعمال التي يقوم بها الثوريون من أجلهم دون أن يثقوا بهم))

ويقول : (( يتحتم على كل من يتصدى لقضايا الناس أن يراجع نفسه مرات ومرات ولا يتركها للأهواء والعواطف، ذلك أن الذي يعتبر نفسه مالكا لحق الحكمة الثورية هو في الحقيقة مخادع لنفسه فإذا ظل المتحول من طبقة القاهرين إلى طبقة المقهورين متوجسا من كل خطوة يخطوها المقهورون أو اقتراح يقدمونه فهو في الحقيقة مخلص لسلوك طبقته القديمة أكثر من إخلاصه للطبقة المقهورة ، ذلك أن التحول إلى الجماهير يقتضي مخاضا جديدا ، والذين يولدون في هذا المخاض لابد أن يسلكوا سلوكا مغايرا لأنه من غير المعقول أن يظلوا محتفظين بقيمهم القديمة، وهكذا فإن السبيل الوحيد لفهم خصائص حياة المقهورين وسلوكهم هو مزاملتهم والاندماج معهم ، ولا يعني ذلك أن المقهورين يخلون من هذا التناقض ، فهم في كثير من الأحيان يمارسون نوعا من الإزدواجية وذلك حين يحسون القهر ثم يبررونه بالصورة التي جسدوها في داخل أنفسهم لحقيقة قهرهم ، إنهم يحكمون على أنفسهم حكما قاسيا حتى تتجلى لهم حقيقة القهر ظاهرة ، ففي هذه المرحلة يبدأون في تملك الشجاعة التي تنفي عنهم الاتكالية وتجعلهم يعتمدون على أنفسهم ، وبدون هذا الإحساس فسيظلون معتمدين على رؤسائهم قائلين لهم ..ماذا نفعل؟؟))

وفي فصل آخر : ((لا شك أنه كي تحقق الثورة أهدافها فلابد أن تنضم إليها الجماهير ، ولكن عندما يحس القادة الثوريين ببعد الناس عنهم وعدم الثقة بهم فإنهم يعتبرون هذا السلوك منقصة من جانب الشعب وذلك ما يجعلهم يدركون في مثل هذه الحالات العجز الكامن في ضمائر الجماهير في تلك المرحلة ، وفي مثل هذه الحال فإنهم يلجأون إلى نفس أساليب القاهرين لإحكام سلطتهم ، وهكذا يخلص القادة إلى أنه من غير الممكن الدخول مع الناس في علاقة حوارية قبل السيطرة على السلطة ولذلك فهم يلجأون إلى نظرية العمل اللاحواري حيث يستخدمون نفس أساليب القاهرين في التبشير والغزو الثقافي ، وباتباعهم هذه الطريق فإنهم سيفشلون في تحقيق الثورة .. إن دور القادة الثوريين في جميع الظروف يكمن في أن يتفهموا تماما الأسباب التي تؤدي إلى عدم الثقة بهم من جانب الناس ويحاولوا أن يجدوا طرقا أخرى للوصول إليهم بل ومساعدتهم في رؤية ظروف القهر التي تحيط بهم ، ذلك أن الضمير المقهور يعاني بالضرورة إحساسا بالازدواجية والخوف))

ويضيف ناقدا لليسار : ((إن كل سياسات اليسار معتمدة على الجماهير وعلى وعيها بها ، فإذا ما اختل هذا الوعي فسيفقد اليسار جذوره وسينهار على الرغم من أن اليسار يظل يوهم نفسه بأنه يستطيع تحقيق الثورة عن طريق العودة السريعة إلى الحكم والسلطة..وبذلك يتناسى ضرورة الاتحاد مع المقهورين وينصرف إلى تكوين تنظيم يقيم به حوارا مستحيلا مع المتسلطين ، ينتهي به إلى أن يصبح هو نفسه مُستغلا بواسطة الصفوة ، ولعله يشترك معهم في لعبة القهر وقد يبرر هذه المشاركة بأنها ضرب من الواقعية))

وقبل أن يفصل بدقة نموذج (التعليم الحواري) للمقهورين من كل الفئات كبديل ل(التعليم البنكي) التلقيني ، يقول: (( لابد أن تنظم مراحل العمل النضالي من أجل الحرية نزعة من الحوار الانتقادي بين فصائل المقهورين في رؤية الواقع ، أما أن تحل الذاتية والشعارات والبيانات مكان الحوار فإن ذلك يعني محاولة تحقيق الحرية بوسائل التدجين وذلك مالا سبيل إليه لأن أي محاولة للتحرير لا يشارك فيها المقهورون مشاركة فعالة تعني أنهم ما يزالون يعاملون كمجرد أشياء يستهدف المخلصون إخراجها من مبنى محترق ، وليس من نتيجة لهذه العملية سوى قيادة المقهورين إلى حفرة الحزبية الجماعية التي تحولهم إلى جماعات مستغلة))

وللمفارقة كان هذا هو الاختلاف الذي بيّنه (فيريري) بين الثورة والانقلاب في معرض كلامه، مما يجعلك تشعر أن مانحن فيه إنما هو مجرد مرحلة متوسطة بين انقلابين ، فيقول: ((ويبدو هنا أن الحوار مع الجماهير أمر ضروري لكل ثورة حقيقية، وذلك في الواقع ما يميز الثورة عن الانقلاب. فمن الطبيعي ألا يتوقع الإنسان مثل هذه العلاقة الحوارية مع الانقلابيين، فالانقلابيون لا هم لهم إلا أن يكتسبوا الشرعية بكل أساليب الخداع الممكنة، أما الثوريون فلابد لهم عاجلا أو آجلا أن يقيموا نوعا من الحوار الشجاع مع الناس، ذلك أن شرعية وجودهم إنما يستمدونها من ذلك الحوار. فهم لا يخافون آراء الناس أو مشاركتهم الفعالة في السلطة، وهم بالتالي لا يجدون حرجا في التحدث إليهم عن إنجازاتهم وإخفاقاتهم ولا يجدون حرجا في التحدث إليهم عن حساباتهم الخاطئة والمصاعب التي يواجهونها، وبقدر ما تكون السرعة في بدء الحوار بقدر ما تكتسب الثورة أصالتها وشرعيتها))

نٌفي (باولو فيريري ) إثر انقلاب عسكري عصف بالبرازيل في منتصف الستينات إلى تشيلي بعد اتهامه بالخيانة....ليكمل منهجه في تعليم الأميين وتوعية المقهورين من العمال والمزارعين في تشيلي كما بدأه بالبرازيل ... وكأن منفاه مجرد رحلة ابتعاث ...فرصة أبعد مدى لاجتثاث القهر وغرس الحرية في نفوس الناس ...فمن كان منكم ثائرا فليفعل مثل ذلك أو ليصمت.

ملاحظة :
تقوم مدرسة (نماء) التربوية والثقافية بعمل حلقات نقاشية عن الكتاب ، ولقد شرفت بالمشاركة بها والاستفادة منها عن طريق تلاميذ دكتورة/ هبة رؤوف عزت الفاضلين، حيث أنها تمثل المشرف الأكاديمي لهذه المدرسة النبيلة، ولقد تم الانتهاء من مناقشة فصلين من الكتاب ومازالت هناك لقاءات أخرى للباقي من الفصول إن كتب لنا الله الحياة. ولا أدري إن كان يصلهم هنا شكري ولكني بحق أمتن لهم بمعرفتي لهذا الكتاب.

هذا الرابط أعلاه هو محاضرة قيمة جداً عن كتاب (تعليم المقهورين) لباولو فيريري ، والتي شارك بها المفكر الشهير (ناعوم تشومسكي) ومعه عالم للغويات يدعى (برونو ديلا) ،وفد تضمنت العديد من النقاط المثيرة للاهتمام كمثل: حديث (تشومسكي) عن تجربته الأولى مع الكتاب حين ظهرت نسخته المترجمة لأول مرة من البرتغالية إلى الإنجليزية في عام 1972 ، وتأثره الشديد بأفكاره نظرا لما كان قد عاينه في تلك الحقبة من دعم أميركا لطغاة أميركا الاتينية وما مر بالأخيرة جراء هذا الدعم من مآسي وفظائع في فترة أواخر الستينات، كما أن دافعه للكتاب لم يكن فقط سياسيا وإنما لكونه في ذلك العمر شأنه كالآخرين عانى من ملل النظم التعليمية (البنكية). وأشار (تشومسكي) إلى أن هذه المحاضرة والتي أقيمت في الأول من شهر مايو لعام 2013 توافق (عيد العمال) ، وهو مايراه مفارقة محزنة كونها مناسبة درجت على تعويد الناس على الاحتفاء با��عمل فيها بدلا من المطالبة بحقوقهم وهو هدف هذا اليوم الأساسي ، وهو ما يشكل أيضا إحدى أوجه القهر بالمجتمع .
Profile Image for Kevin.
270 reviews655 followers
September 25, 2020
Paradigm-shifting topics with challenging delivery...

I’ll have to re-revisit this one…
--Given its stellar reputation, I immediately gave this book a second read to make sure something wasn’t lost in translation (figuratively and literally), first reading the 30th anniversary and then the 50th anniversary edition. The core messages are indeed paradigm-shifting, but if we exclude Freire’s life work and influence and just consider the book’s contents and delivery style, then the target audience seems decidedly narrow: leftists comfortable with academic writing and possessing activist experience. (This happens to be several of the reviewers I follow here, and they seem to have drawn ample inspiration from this book to apply to their activism.)

Promising beginnings:
--The book starts off with a clear, profound framework in addressing the purpose of education: the banking model (teacher depositing info into student) vs. problem-posing model (dialogue between teacher-students and student-teachers). A particular challenge this applies to is how activists can avoid cultural invasion.
--More promising beginnings include: framing of humans as incomplete seeking to become more human, the dehumanization of both the oppressed and the oppressor, and the image of the oppressor within the oppressed.

Then I get lost...:
--The middle section of the book drifts apart. Given Freire’s on-the-ground experiences, I was hoping for plenty of clear examples and counter-arguments to bring life to his ideas and separate this book from the mountain of ivory-tower philosophical musings of academia. Was this in Morse code along the margins in your copy?
--In particular, in the technical steps he provides (observation, codification, decoding dialogue, investigation, etc.), the few occasions where an example is provided were like rungs on a ladder. Thus, I did not climb very far.
--The principles of being a witness is another topic that would benefit from illustrative examples.
--For the last part on revolutionary theory, there is so much material to draw from; one-liners of Che/Castro/Mao do not provide enough weight to anchor anything besides my confirmation bias…
--I’ll have to revisit the theories after I explore more examples; this looks promising: Fanshen: A Documentary of Revolution in a Chinese Village
Profile Image for Prerna.
220 reviews1,259 followers
November 17, 2022
When I first picked up this book, my first question was 'can the oppressed have a pedagogy' which is really pessimistic of me, but then I blame Spivak's book title 'can the subaltern speak' which has been on my mind for a few months now. Luckily, Freire answered with a resounding yes. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that within these pages Freire asked for a complete paradigm shift, an epistemological break within existing anti-dialogical structures. Anyone familiar with bell hooks' writings will see that she tried to embody (successfully, obviously) this spirit in her works too, which is not a surprise since hooks considered Freire to be one of her teachers.

Maybe I've just been afraid of freedom. At least, I'm certain I was, before I read this book. Maybe I've actually been fettered by samsara without even realising it and maybe I've even taken refuge in its paradoxical certainty. This is not to say that all of samsara is bad. I am no Buddhist (I don't know even if that's what they say, so forgive me.) But I've grown to think of consciousness as an emergent phenomenon and acknowledge that it can only grow with the environment around us - it has to be unfettered. Or consciousness can only grow when it's in dialogue with the environment that it's a part of. But to get there, we need a paradigm shift.

I sincerely believe that our brains didn't evolve or adapt with the advent of internet and the onslaught of information that we were being subjected to everyday in this age of the hyperreal. Our brains are always trying to compensate without even recognising the lack, and then we're all scatterbrained, all over the place. This book is more important now than ever before, because it might initiate the much needed and long overdue paradigm shift and dialogical radicalisation. What are you doing? Go read this book and underline everything.

Profile Image for Chad.
44 reviews3 followers
November 8, 2011
This was a chore to read. Either the original writing is in a style lacking art or the translation from Portuguese either has issues or the translator lacks.

Beyond what makes for an unpleasant read, many of the ideas in the book are obviously for another time and place (1960's Brazil) and presenting an idealogy that has not only failed miserably in every attempt but has actually seen some of the most oppressive regimes in history (Soviet Union, Khmer Rouge, North Korea, Maoist China and more). One has to wonder if Paulo would still hold on to these ideas with the full knowledge of 20/20 hindsight or potentially make excuses for each and every inclusive instance of Socialist failure.

There are some nuggets of interesting thought or ideas. I particularly like and agree with the notion of 'deposit banking' education. We can see the failure of this mode of education in our own American system where sadly teaching critical thinking is something reserved for college level courses. Another nugget was "This is because welfare programs as instruments of manipulation ultimately serve the end of conquest. They act as an anesthetic, distracting the oppressed from the true causes of their problems and form concrete solution of these problems. They splinter the oppressed into groups of individuals hoping to get a few more benefits for themselves", a passage that I believe aptly describes one of our current American political parties in how they go about gaining public support. Of course, I am sure that Paulo would disagree with this if he was still alive but his observation was still accurate in exposing the progressive movement in America.
14 reviews14 followers
December 27, 2007
I just finished reading Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed. It was life altering, as I knew it would be, and pointed the way forward clearly to how we can begin the revolution. If our aim is, as loving humans, to eradicate homelessness, poverty, racism, classism, and sexism, our revolution must be educative and cultural. Educative meaning that it is a process of reflection, critical thinking, and dialogue; cultural meaning that it must act decisively on our ways of being and inhabiting society. One way that Freire tells us this can be done-- and I mention it here because a lot of people question what practical steps can be taken to begin the revolution-- is by bearing witness.

Bearing witness is an action. It is a way for us to begin to live our lives in ways that fruitfully impact our world. Freire tells us that the historical essential elements of witness are:
1. Consistency... matching words with actions.
2. Boldness... confronting the issues that matter, not shirking or avoiding our responsibilities towards equitable humanity.
3. Radicalization... leading both the people bearing witness and those receiving witness to increasing action.
4. Courage to love... rather than accommodating an unjust world, transforming the world so increase our own liberation.
5. Faith... belief that we can change ourselves in collaboration with others.

I truly believe that it is through the integration of the personal and the political that we begin the revolution. We cannot think about how to economically love developing countries, if we cannot love the homeless man we pass on our way to Whole Paycheck, err...Foods. We cannot have faith that the world can change, if we cannot start a dialogue with our annoying younger sister about how to better our relationship. The revolution begins with a commitment to bearing witness in our small personal lives-- AND acting on the political scale, the two are not in sequence.

It is really hard to bear witness. I struggle with it everyday. I have to fight my own inclination to rush out to those post-Christmas sales, and figure out new ways to love my heinous roommate. It is a process, for sure. But the revolution must begin. How else can we continue being human?
Profile Image for أحمد أبازيد Ahmad Abazed.
351 reviews2,003 followers
August 21, 2016
هذا الكتاب على بساطته من أسس الفكر الثوري الحديث، وقضيته الرئيسة في كسر منظومة القهر وألا يكرر المقهورون صنع نظام القاهرين، وكيف على القادة الثوريين أن يحاوروا الشعب بندية تشاركية لا كتعليم فوقي حتى يشترك في الثورة التي ستحرره من منظومة القهر.
Profile Image for Ipsa.
183 reviews198 followers
June 26, 2022
So many words reverberating in the chambers of the Left, and all that to just say: Love is all there is; it is an ontological pre-supposition. We are all beggars, screaming: Look at me! Initiate my Becoming! This "look" formulates the contents of human beings as Subjects. To oversimplify Lacan, the ego, that was "constitutionally sundered" during the "mirror stage", is perpetually seeking a fabled unity of the self and thus it always has an inherent 'rift'. The Symbolic Order, where humans become subjects, is made up of fictions and metaphors --- where humans are ascribed with a long signifying chain of signifiers, where the myth and metaphors and fictional superstructures are applied to us. This constitutional rift is deepened in the psyche of the oppressed when placed in the Symbolic Order --- because it is the victors, the oppressors who write the stories and the metaphors, and consequently make up this Order. In this way, the Subject is objectivised, and thus both the Subject as well as the Object preside within the oppressed.

"The very structure of their thought has been conditioned by the contradictions of the concrete, existential situation by which they were shaped. Their ideal is to be men; but for them, to be men is to be oppressors. This phenomenon derives from the fact that the oppressed, at a certain moment of their existential experience, adopt an attitude of ‘adhesion’ to the oppressor."

Paulo Freire spends the rest of the book analysing the myriad of ways the oppressors look to keep the internalised Subject-Object dichotomy alive inside the oppressed --- ranging from the "banking concept of education" where the students are depositories to be filled with fractured info., to the superficial 'care' of rainbow capitalism, in order to keep the oppressed lulled. Reality is fragmented and people are trapped in these fragments (which is also linked to the capitalist tendency towards 'specialisation').
Love, empathy, humility, and dialogue are the basis of revolution. An individual is the sublation of the dialectical tension between the subjective and the objective. We are embedded in action ontologically, so a radical must naturally produce knowledge in solidarity with action --- the ultimate praxis. Presenting the world as a problem -- as something to be named -- is what sutures the reality back to a unified fabric. Only the oppressed can heal the world, that's what Freire believes anyway. In a certain documentary, James Baldwin said to the white man interviewing him:
You cannot help but feel that there is something you can do for me, that you can save me. And you do not yet know I've endured your salvations for so long, I cannot afford it anymore...I can save you; I know something about you, you don't know anything about me.
This is the underline of this book.

Now the problems: aside from being mind-numbingly repetitive, another problem I had with this book was its heavy reliance on the oppressed-oppressor binary to the point of over-simplification; this book may also be inaccessible to those not well-versed in continental philosophy. What a shame really, because for all its faults, it re-wired my brain in a lot of ways and opened up new vistas of knowledge. I wish more people could read it! Also I wish it had more concrete data and examples. I won't attempt to summarise or formally review this book, for it has been done countless times by people way more articulate than I am. But I will say this:
Pedagogy of the Oppressed is a book that I will keep coming back to; it is an incredibly engrossing and an absolutely essential read.
Profile Image for Paul Bard.
813 reviews
April 27, 2014
Complete crap.

A more obtuse and overly-abstract espousing of silly theories resulting in useless do-gooderism could hardly be possible.

If Freire said he did ABC actions to free people through education and measured XYZ results in specific improvements in quality of life, then he might have won respect despite his pernicious theory.

But Freire dressed it up in fancy language to hide what was really going on. If he were honest, he would speak clearly. This is therefore a dishonest book.

Avoid. Avoid anyone who thinks it is worth reading. It is not.

What IS worth reading is the writer who goes to the root of this dangerous evil crap, which is Karl Marx's teacher, GF Hegel. Hegel is a good philosopher, sincere and genuine. When you start there, you'll be better equipped to see the errors Marx and everyone else after him falls into...errors that lead to poverty, misery, resentment and poor quality of life whenever they are applied.
Profile Image for Mehrsa.
2,234 reviews3,659 followers
November 23, 2018
It's hard to review a book like this because it's a game-changing book whose ideas have seeped into everything. I guess I will say that it was much more dense and academic than I remember it being.
Profile Image for Chris.
22 reviews17 followers
August 29, 2007
I don't get this book. I found it to be an overacademic hard to read book about making education less academic and more accessible.
Profile Image for Meg.
417 reviews178 followers
March 23, 2007
A must-read for anyone engaged in education, as well as all those involved in grassroots social change. How does one teach others, particularly those who have been oppressed in our society, without at the same time becoming merely another outside force of domination? How do those who are oppressed escape oppression, without merely joining the ranks of the those currently in power and responsible for the oppression? Freire, one of the first to truly address these questions, handles them capably, with his own real world experimentation informing his answers.
Profile Image for Zanna.
676 reviews941 followers
December 3, 2015
Perhaps I have been reading in the wrong order. I’m very familiar with the idea of dialogic pedagogy, mainly from my PGCE and reading Radical Education and the Common School, which is about liberatory education for children and young people as well as adults (as Freire points out, this idea of education is lifelong, all-encompassing, and positions teachers as learners and learners as teachers). I fervently believe that this idea of learning is the golden key shining in our hands towards a world we can all joyfully and peacefully and lovingly inhabit.

That said, I have issues with this book! Maybe it’s just me being too slow to get it. It’s so technical! In drawing on Hegel and Fromm, it even makes ordinary words like love and death into jargon. When Freire is describing the pedagogy he is speaking about, he spends many words changing every day language into Marxist technicality, and I am begging for examples and clarity.

Part of my fruitful struggle with this text involves trying to apply Freire’s framing developed out of teaching adult literacy in post-colonial contexts to the (to me) more familiar field of intersectional identity politics. Freire characterises the ‘oppressor consciousness’ as identifying being as having, which leads to the objectification and exploitation of the oppressed, a reflection that speaks to many facets of gender oppression. Even more vividly, he points out that members of the oppressor class who:
join the oppressed in their struggle for liberation[…] as they cease to be exploiters or indifferent spectators or simply the heirs of exploitation and move to the side of the exploited, they almost always bring with them the marks of their origin: their prejudices… which include a lack of confidence in the people’s ability to think, to want, and to know[…] A real humanist can be identified more by [her] trust in the people, which engages [her] in their struggle, than by a thousand actions in their favour without that trust

He distinguishes humanism from ‘humanitarianism’, the false and self-serving generosity of the oppressor:
Pedagogy which begins with the egotistic interests of the oppressors (an egoism cloaked in the false generosity of paternalism) and makes the oppressed the objects of its humanitarianism, itself maintains and embodies oppression. It is an instrument of dehumanisation

I feel the importance of these points to feminist movement can’t be overstated! The need for ‘allies’ to trust & respect the agency of ‘the oppressed’ and to avoid making others dehumanised objects of their ‘generosity’ or more likely of an appropriative, consuming gaze seeking ‘self-improvement’ is a hard lesson to learn for those in relative positions of privilege in kyriarchy.

On the other side, Freire characterises the ‘oppressed consciousness’ as ‘housing the oppressor’, tending towards self-depreciation, ‘fear of freedom’, ‘silence’ and emotional dependence. Susceptibility to the manipulative and divisive tactics of ‘cultural invasion’ by which the oppressors maintain their position is a feature of this consciousness. Aspiration to become the oppressor leads to ‘horizontal violence’. A labourer promoted to overseer treats her subordinates as badly as the boss did; a person who articulates radical ideas is silenced for the sake of keeping a larger group safe.
The oppressors do not favour promoting the community as a whole, but rather selected leaders

These oppressed/oppressor archetypes are so useful, but need to be critically reconsidered in a context where we are all both oppressed and oppressor (Foucault, via Aoifeschatology : “why is your view of the social order so pure?”) I might add many examples of violence that are not exactly horizontal, but more DIAGONAL, in that they kick downward from one axis of oppression to another, maybe we can say across an intersection: a white musician asserts her sexual agency by playing on racist stereotypes, a cis feminist insists on misgendering trans women to exclude them from woman-only space and so on.

Freire states and re-states that the oppressors cannot liberate the oppressed: the oppressed must liberate the oppressor (because they are dehumanised too, by the act of oppressing others) by liberating themselves. Parcelled with this comes the idea that the ‘banking’ style of education, the authoritarian way of stuffing receptacle minds with alienating matter, can never be useful to liberation: propaganda is ALWAYS unacceptable. And also in this parcel: we cannot liberate first and educate-for-liberation afterwards. ONLY dialogic pedagogy can liberate. Along with this too, Freire’s idea of praxis as reflection and action, neither one without the other.

Although Freire decries ‘sectarianism’ (I feel ‘dogmatism’ better captures what he means) Right (obstructing any process of emancipation, protecting the domination of elites) and Left (relying on the ‘historical process’ to bring about revolution), he uses a lot of rigid ‘master narrative’ Marxism to make his case. I feel the need to interrogate rationalist, scientific-materialist aspects of his text and to question the idea of ‘unveiling objective reality’ and of humans ‘transcending themselves’ in practice: when Freire quotes Mao I ask how we can account for Mao’s violence and dehumanisation of the people: I look for the seeds of tyranny. Where does decoding experience shade into a new hegemonised discourse, where does it grey into emptiness?

The very dryness and technicality of this text makes it hard for non/semi-academics like me to feel out and interpret across boundaries. When I was hanging out in the London Review bookshop on Friday with a friend I spotted this book. I’m imagining joyfully that hooks has written something here that updates ideas such as Freire’s with her usual clarity and accessibility and considers liberatory education with a much needed feminist lens.
Profile Image for abclaret.
65 reviews2 followers
October 18, 2011
This book represents a huge disappointment, because it could have been brilliant in its totality.

In a nutshell the book is about the methodology/means of libertarian education. How traditional teaching methods implicitly reproduce dominant ideology and instill passivity in their subjects. The means by which this is subverted, Freire suggests, is by rejecting teacher-student centred teaching, assessing and pushing the boundaries of learners conciousness through problem-posing. This develops education as a dialectial entity (rather than the static facts that are taught in schools), allows to unpick alot of ideological baggage and because its a group activity it builds a 'dialogue' in the oppressed (read class conciousness).

At its height the book has quite far-reaching implications in politics and education. The books scope isn't just just there though, were talking topics psychology, sociology, radical-theory, and probably a few others are all covered.
The problem with the book though is two-fold, firstly overuse of hegelian or academic style jargon and secondly being a product of the 70's left, its got weird baggage.

On the hegelian/academic front, it makes sense that dialectics would make an appearance in the book, its just kind of ironic that a book on teaching the downtrodden and poor is so overladdened with philosphical terms that just make you glaze over and would be beyond the means of someone who was not educated to university level. Its simply no exaggeration to state that 20-30 pages should have been edited out of existence on the account of being rather superfluous. And its worse that it brings only confusion and makes it tiresome to read.

Re: 70's radicalism. It makes no sense at all for 3/4 of the book to talk about the oppressed becoming self aware towards the goal of liberation, then for the last chapter to start discussing the relationship of the oppressed towards their leaders! Mao, Guevara, Castro, Lenin, Althusser and others all get quoted in what seems like a parody of the first half of the book. Only the optimistic heydays of the left could possibly talk up Castro and Guevara as being deeply implanted in the dialogue of the masses without drawing the worse kind of mockery. Yet its here, in a seminal text no less.

Would suggest its worth reading despite its rather skewed leftism and love of all things hegel. Possibly Deschooling Society might be an easier first read into this forray.
Profile Image for Ayse_.
155 reviews71 followers
May 21, 2018
Author Paulo Freire a Brazilian educator and philosopher wrote this book in 1968. His time was a time of opposing political forces, industrial revolution, beginning of cold-war and post-colonialism and military coups in South America.

Developing his philosophy, he had in mind the future of the uneducated many that wanted freedom but lacked knowledge and know-how. He described freedom as a factor that defines humanity (not an abstract ideal but an inherent component that needs to be actualized to become fully human). Freedom can only be achieved through knowledge. In this aspect, knowledge (not information) has to be co-created by the learner, therefore the learner cannot be a bank for input but rather has to be a part of the knowledge itself.

For its time and still today it is one of the masterpieces of philosophy of education.
Profile Image for Wealhtheow.
2,419 reviews537 followers
Want to read
November 27, 2013
I've seen quotes from this that burned with fierce fire into my brain (ex: "Any situation in which some individuals prevent others from engaging in the process of inquiry is one of violence. The means used are not important; to alienate human beings from their own decision-making is to change them into objects"), so hopefully someday I'll read the whole thing.
Profile Image for Biblio Curious.
233 reviews8,282 followers
November 11, 2017
I see this book floating around on booktube recently. It makes me both very happy and terrified to think it could be getting a wider readership. Of all my course in Uni, the one that included this as a text was the most raw & memorable: "Native Canadian World Views" So how do I review this book when it's tied so closely to the emotional impact of that uni course?

Focusing only on this book as an object of paper & ink: It's dense, powerful, moving theory crammed into about 100 pages. Most of it went over my head. The bits that I understood I still clearly remember. "Power over" and "Power with" being key factors. The only guiding light or hope that I could glean is for groups in power to become "allies" with the oppressed. Perhaps also for members of the oppressed to stop oppressing each other.

I highly recommend reading this, dense or not it's a powerful book that touches on colonialism and perhaps trying to find a way to reverse the effects of it. With so many groups of people all over the world who've felt the generational impacts of colonialism, it's a powerful one to read for understanding the today.
Profile Image for Anna.
1,656 reviews618 followers
September 25, 2017
'Pedagogy of the Oppressed' was first published nearly fifty years ago, yet read to me as a fresh, powerful, and relevant text, both on a personal and social level. On the personal front, it reminded me of how much I prefer small group teaching to lecturing. In the former case, I used to facilitate and guide critical discussions on a topic with three or four students who had written an essay about it. It was obvious in such discussions whether the students had read about the topic, whether they were interested, and what they thought. In the latter case, I talk at twenty or more students for two hours without any sense of whether they're listening, let alone learning. Freire emphasises dialogue as central to education, which I strongly concur with. I learn best from reading or talking, not listening. Likewise, I teach best through discussion, not lectures. It's a real pity that in the UK only Oxford and Cambridge give undergraduate students the opportunity to learn through such small group teaching. Moreover, I greatly appreciated Freire's points about 'problem-posing' education, which doesn't treat social issues as resolved. I used to genuinely enjoy discussing the flaws in housing policy, for example, with students. In short, I found Freire's angle on education inspiring, which is helpful as I'd been feeling quite jaded about academic teaching.

More importantly, though, Freire's theories around oppression and resistance have a lot of resonance in 2017. Generally, I appreciated his rejection of binary divisions (for example objective and subjective) in favour of dialectics and the constant emphasis on dialogue. This is expressed with great elegance, for instance in chapter 3:

Someone who cannot acknowledge himself to be mortal as everyone else still has a long way to go before he can reach the point of encounter. At the point of encounter there are neither utter ignoramuses nor perfect sages; there are only people who are attempting, together, to learn more than they now know. Dialogue further requires an intense faith in humankind, faith in their power to make and remake, to create and re-create, faith in their vocation to be more fully human (which is not the privilege of an elite, but the birthright of all).

Given the current quality of political and media debate, actual dialogue seems to be badly needed. Both in education and in culture more generally, I think there is a confusion between dialogue and debate. A debate is competitive and the aim is to win; dialogue is co-operative and all participants gain from it. The present forms taken by the media and the structures through which we interact online seem to greatly inhibit dialogue as Freire describes it; everything becomes a polarised and aggressively combative debate. I found his emphasis on dialogue inspiring, both as a teacher and a person, as well as nuanced. The role of critical thinking in dialogue was very well articulated:

Finally, true dialogue cannot exist unless the dialoguers engage in critical thinking – thinking which discerns and indivisible solidarity between the world and the people and admits of no dichotomy between them – thinking which perceives reality as a process, as transformation, rather than as a static entity – thinking which does not separate itself from action, but constantly immerses itself in temporality without fear of the risks involved. Critical thinking contrasts with naive thinking, which sees 'historical time as a weight, a stratification of the acquisitions and experiences of the past', from which the present should emerge normalised and 'well-behaved'. For the naive thinker, the important thing is accommodation to this normalised 'today'. For the critic, the important thing is the continuing transformation of reality.

More worryingly, this analysis feels very apposite to the neo-fascist resurgence currently occurring in Europe and America:

...the former oppressors do not feel liberated. On the contrary, they genuinely consider themselves to be oppressed. Conditioned by the experience of oppressing others, any situation other than their former seems to them like oppression. Formerly, they could eat, dress, wear shoes, be educated, travel, and hear Beethoven; while millions did not eat, had no clothes or shoes, neither studied nor travelled, much less listened to Beethoven. Any restriction on this way of life, in the name of the rights of the community, appears to the former oppressors as a profound violation of their individual rights – although they had no respect for the millions who suffered and died of hunger, pain, sorrow, and despair. For the oppressors, 'human beings' refers only to themselves; other people are 'things'.

This is a wise and thought-provoking book. I think it especially significant for those from developed countries who are working, perhaps for NGOs, in the developing world. No lasting improvements can be made without partnership and dialogue, rather than those with money dictating to those without.

A further comment that rang very true at the present moment concerns making the state of the world mythical. This is especially true of neoliberal capitalism.

In order to present for the consideration of the oppressed and subjugated a world of deceit designed to increase alienation and passivity, the oppressors develop a series of methods precluding any presentation of the world as a problem and showing it rather as a fixed entity, as something given – something to which people, as mere spectators, must adapt. […] It is accomplished by the oppressors' depositing myths indispensable to the preservation of the status quo: for example, the myth that the oppressive order is a 'free society'; the myth that all persons are free to work where they wish, that if they don't like their boss they can leave him and find another job; the myth that this order respects human rights and is therefore worthy of esteem; the myth that everyone who is industrious can become an entrepreneur – worse yet, the myth that the street vendor is as much an entrepreneur as the owner of a large factory...

These myths are still alive and well, thus 'Pedagogy of the Oppressed' remains inspiring and important. It caused me to reflect on the importance of education, formal and informal, for the changing of minds individually and collectively. I read most of it on a train while very tired, though, so feel that it deserves a re-read so I can think about it in greater depth.
Profile Image for Wick Welker.
Author 5 books321 followers
September 1, 2021
The source of liberation can only arise from within the oppressed.

I only recently heard of this book, written in 1968, and it’s enormous subsequent global influence in both education and critical theories. Overall, I found The Pedagogy of the Oppressed to be both timeless and timely, providing a construct for the oppressed to not only recognize the system of oppression imposed on them but also how to create an educational framework to seek liberation from that system.

There are several rules and distinctions made clear, namely that of the oppressor and the oppressed and the tools the oppressor uses to maintain dominance and control. Some tools are overt propagandizing but there are more subtle levers of control that have far greater influence. A chief tool in my mind that is mentioned in this book is ensuring that the labor class is divided. And of course this is just so classic. From race baiting, xenophobia and immigrant scapegoating, class division is a tried and true tool method to fracture solidarity and create self inflicted social injury by means of domestic strife. The domestic strife serves as a grand distraction from whatever oligarchy that maintains control. Key in class division is the vilifying of unions which have a pesky tendency to unite across racial lines and create tremendous solidarity and even *gasp* a changing cultural zeitgeist. Fortunately for the plutocracy, neoliberalism for the last 40 years has made sure unionization not only never goes this far but even gets created in the first place.

Key methodology in maintaining dominance is fooling the working class into believing that they are part of the oppressor class when they are actually being fundamentally oppressed. Cultural compartmentalizing is key. What this means is confusing the labor class and upper class about what freedom even means. You get them to believe that the defense of freedom is to maintain the status quo. This includes fabrication of a zero sum political landscape, the illusion of scarcity and then propagandize the social threat. The goal is to see any forfeit of luxury as oppression to their freedom when the truly pressed enjoy no such luxuries in the first place. This will create great disparities about the language of freedom and propagate more confusion and strife. Additionally, these kinds of social distortions create monstrous hypocrisy and double standards. For example, is there really a fundamental difference between radical Islam and white supremecistt Christianity? They both have the same goals and by the same means and function as the inverse of one another.

Even the generosity of the oppressors is a form of dominance. The generosity, which is almost always based on commodity, is at best disingenuous and based on the oppressive materialistic system that maintains control. Populist control is allowed to arise within a system of oppression where the popuist gains the support of the proletariat. However, the populist must continue the agenda of the plutocracy of this populist will not last. A populist is basically an intermediary between the people and the elites, living between the two groups and using vast powers of manipulating the oppressed. As long as a populist restricts themselves to paternalism, authoritarianism or promoting dependency on social welfare, the oligarchy will consent to their rule.

A key point in the book is that the oppressed are not the inverse oppressors. What I mean is, a revolutionary cannot use the same tools of oppression to create social change, this will only result in rebranded authoritarianism (something we’ve seen a lot). No, the key point is that liberation can only come from the lived-in experience of the oppressed with the goal to liberate not only the oppressed but the oppressors as well from an entrenched system. Indeed, all are dehumanized in a system of oppression: the oppressed because they are treated as empty vessels and the oppressors because they act inhumanely toward fellow humans. As trite as it may sound, sincere love and joy for all humanity is the only way to break a system of oppression to unbind all who are bound. A huge danger for the oppressed is to internalize the oppressor image of themselves “I’ll only be a peasant” to create deeply entrenched fatalism. The oppressed need to realize that they are more than objects of the oppressor.

And this brings me to what this book is really about: creating a pedagogy for the oppressed. Education is a key vehicle to maintain dominance. Traditional western teaching, or banking education, is to treat the student like an empty vessel to be filled with a knowledge base. Once that student is able to regurgitate that knowledge, they earn the accolades of the oppressor. Those that are unable to obtain this education are seen as lazy and deserving of their predicament. Those that don’t subscribe to the body of knowledge are considered pathological and in need of re-education. Any attempt to “educate” the marginalized is again a form of oppressive generosity as the goal is simply to assimilate that person into the existing system of oppression. And this is where Friere is so emphatic, he speaks of an open dialogue based way of teaching that decentralizes knowledge and promotes the creativity of the masses. And one cannot have true dialogue without humility and without asserting a monopolization of knowledge. Education is either a tool of conformity or a tool of liberation where students learn how to think critically to transform society into something new.

Overall I enjoyed this book however not all of the material is accessible to the casual reader. There was a large chunk of stuff that was pretty incomprehensible to me because I wasn’t taking detailed notes. Overall I recommend it.
Profile Image for Brierly.
155 reviews104 followers
February 18, 2019
...thinking which occurs only in and among people together seeking out reality. I cannot think for others, nor can others think for me.

Fascinating as a foundational piece of critical pedagogy (theory of education), Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed was originally published in 1968 and remains a heavy-hitter in the study of education. I purchased the 50th-anniversary edition that included some updates. Not entirely aligned with current pedagogical theory, but worth a read for any educator trying to disrupt social currents.

It is only when the oppressed find the oppressor out and become involved in the organized structure for their liberation that they begin to believe in themselves.
2,174 reviews32 followers
September 21, 2021
“They confuse freedom with the maintenance of the status quo.”

Have you ever did that thing where you pick up another book to break up an otherwise tedious one, well I picked this up to give me a break from a disappointing book and then this turned out to be even worse than the book I was escaping from. Oh well, you can’t win em all etc.

“Fatalism is the guise of docility is the fruit of an historical and sociological situation, not an essential characteristic of a people’s behaviour.”

Freire is very fond of the idea of Praxis, we know this because it is mentioned five times within three lines...and double figures on the same, small page, as well as being pulled out throughout the book along with his other ideas. That is one of the biggest problems with this book, the unnecessary repetition of fairly basic ideas, which are then layered with horrid phrasing and poorly chosen words to create the illusion that these ideas are more difficult and profound than they really are.

This has its moments, but they are too brief and muddled instead of expanded. He appears to lean incredibly heavy on Erich Fromm, except that Fromm’s ideas are a lot clearer and better presented. I have to say I was relieved to see that I was far from being alone in my disappointment and confusion with this book. As far as I can see this is really badly written, as if the challenge is to decipher what are basically very basic concepts, but are hidden behind some really bad writing, it’s hard to tell how much of that is down to the translation or the author, but this felt like pretty hard going and really dull reading for 156 short pages.
Profile Image for Malcolm.
1,708 reviews408 followers
August 24, 2011
Writing a review of this is a challenge in part because the book has had such a powerful effect on my approach to education, and as such to everything I do as a University teacher. I come back to it regularly to remind myself that the topical fads in pedagogy (such as the claims made for student centred active learning, so hip in British HE in the late 2000s and early 2010s) are not as new as many of their protagonists claim. In many cases thay are a politically diluted version of a more deep seated radical pedagogy that without those radical politics lose their transformative potential and keep education as a training ground for capitalism's leaders and drones. Friere's work grew from his experiences working and teaching among the poor and oppressed of Brazil's favelas and countryside while his pedagogy and methodology have become increasingly important in a world where we are becoming increasingly alienated, overmanaged and dependent. I can say nothing more than read it, adapt it to your local conditions, and change them!
Profile Image for Emre Ergin.
Author 9 books72 followers
May 7, 2019
Dördüncü bölümü hariç faydalı buldum. Biraz fazla tekrara düşüyor, mantık sıçramaları da oldukça fazla. Bunun yanında, önder, otorite, otoriterlik vesaire konularında epey üstünkörü geçiliyor, özgürleşmenin nasıl bireyciliğe değil de kardeşliğe evrileceği konusunda herhangi bir söz söylenmemiş, çünkü kitabın aksiyomu bu. kitabın aksiyomu hümanizm. ama değil de. çünkü örgüte ve öndere hala ihtiyaç duyuyor. söyleminin çoğu bireyselliğe ve hatta anarşizme de hizmet edebilecekken, che'nin mao'nun lenin'in dünyasını övmek için kullanılıyor.

bunun yanında, okuma yazma öğrenmek, türev almayı öğrenmek, dil öğrenmek gibi, "bankacı eğitim"in zorunlu olduğu durumların da eğitim öğretime dahil olduğu konusuna da değinilmemiş. hüsnü zan yaparak, bunun gibi "teknik" gereksinimlerin, bir öğretmene tamamen teslimiyet gerektiren konuların öğreniminin bu denli genele yayılmış olmasının da diyalog karşıtı kültürümüzün bir sonucu olduğunu yerleştiriyorum freire'nin ağzına. gülümsüyor.
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