Pedagogy of the Oppressed
|Original title||Pedagogia do Oprimido|
Published in English
Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Portuguese: Pedagogia do Oprimido), written by educator Paulo Freire, proposes a pedagogy with a new relationship between teacher, student, and society. It was first published in Portuguese in 1968, and was translated by Myra Ramos into English and published in 1970. The book is considered one of the foundational texts of critical pedagogy.
Dedicated to what is called "the oppressed" and based on his own experience helping Brazilian adults to read and write, Freire includes a detailed Marxist class analysis in his exploration of the relationship between what he calls "the colonizer" and "the colonized".
In the book Freire calls traditional pedagogy the "banking model" because it treats the student as an empty vessel to be filled with knowledge, like a piggy bank. However, he argues for pedagogy to treat the learner as a co-creator of knowledge.
The book has sold over 750,000 copies worldwide.
Translated into several languages, most editions of Pedagogy of the Oppressed contain at least one introduction/foreword, a preface, and four chapters.
The first chapter explores how oppression has been justified and how it is reproduced through a mutual process between the "oppressor" and the "oppressed" (oppressors–oppressed distinction). Examining how the balance of power between the colonizer and the colonized remains relatively stable, Freire admits that the powerless in society can be frightened of freedom. He writes, "Freedom is acquired by conquest, not by gift. It must be pursued constantly and responsibly. Freedom is not an ideal located outside of man; nor is it an idea which becomes myth. It is rather the indispensable condition for the quest for human completion". (47) According to Freire, freedom will be the result of praxis — informed action — when a balance between theory and practice is achieved.
The second chapter examines the "banking" approach to education — a metaphor used by Freire that suggests students are considered empty bank accounts that should remain open to deposits made by the teacher. Freire rejects the "banking" approach, claiming it results in the dehumanization of both the students and the teachers. In addition, he argues the banking approach stimulates oppressive attitudes and practices in society. Instead, Freire advocates for a more world-mediated, mutual approach to education that considers people incomplete. According to Freire, this "authentic" approach to education must allow people to be aware of their incompleteness and strive to be more fully human. This attempt to use education as a means of consciously shaping the person and the society is called conscientization, a term first coined by Freire in this book.
The third chapter developed the use of the term limit situation with regards to dimensions of human praxis. This is in line with the Alvaro Viera Pinto's use of the word/idea in his "Consciencia Realidad Nacional" which Freire contends is "using the concept without the pessimistic character originally found in Jaspers" (Note 15, Chapter 3) in reference to Karl Jaspers's notion of 'Grenzsituationen'.
The last chapter proposes dialogics as an instrument to free the colonized, through the use of cooperation, unity, organization and cultural synthesis (overcoming problems in society to liberate human beings). This is in contrast to antidialogics which use conquest, manipulation, cultural invasion, and the concept of divide and rule. Freire suggests that populist dialogue is a necessity to revolution; that impeding dialogue dehumanizes and supports the status quo. This is but one example of the dichotomies Freire identifies in the book. Others include the student-teacher dichotomy and the colonizer-colonized dichotomy.
Since the publication of the English edition in 1970, Pedagogy of the Oppressed has been widely adopted in America's teacher-training programs. A 2003 study by David Steiner and Susan Rozen determined that Pedagogy of the Oppressed was frequently assigned at top education schools.
The work was strongly influenced by Frantz Fanon and Karl Marx. One of Freire's dictums is that: "there neither is, nor has ever been, an educational practice in zero space-time—neutral in the sense of being committed only to preponderantly abstract, intangible ideas."
According to Donaldo Macedo, a former colleague of Freire and University of Massachusetts Amherst professor, Pedagogy of the Oppressed is a revolutionary text, and people in totalitarian states risk punishment reading it. During the South African anti-apartheid struggle, ad-hoc copies of Pedagogy of the Oppressed were distributed underground as part of the "ideological weaponry" of various revolutionary groups like the Black Consciousness Movement. In the 1970s and 1980s the book was banned and kept clandestine.
In his article for the conservative City Journal, Sol Stern asserts that Pedagogy of the Oppressed ignores the traditional touchstones of Western education (e.g., Rousseau, John Dewey, or Maria Montessori) and contains virtually none of the information typically found in traditional teacher education (e.g., no discussion of curriculum, testing, or age-appropriate learning). To the contrary, Freire rejects traditional education as "official knowledge" that intends to oppress.
Stern also suggests that heirs to Freire's ideas have taken them to mean that since all education is political, "leftist math teachers who care about the oppressed have a right, indeed a duty, to use a pedagogy that, in Freire's words, "does not conceal — in fact, which proclaims — its own political character".
- Issues in Freirean pedagogy
- Critical consciousness
- Critical pedagogy
- Popular education
- Teaching for social justice
- Adult literacy
- Adult education
- Publisher's Foreword in Freire, Paulo (2000). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum, p. 9.
- Freire, Paolo (2014) Pedagogy of Hope: Reliving Pedagogy of the Oppressed, New York: Bloomsbury, p.67.
- Freire 2006, p.16
- Archie Dick (2010) "Librarians and Readers in the South African Anti-Apartheid Struggle", public lecture given in Tampere Main Library, August 19, 2010; see also 
- Stern, Sol. "Pedagogy of the Oppressor", City Journal, Spring 2009, Vol. 19, no. 2
- Stern, Sol. "'The Ed Schools' Latest—and Worst—Humbug", City Journal, Spring 2006, Vol. 16, No. 3.
- Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum, 2007.
- Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 30th Anniversary ed. New York: Continuum, 2006.
- Rich Gibson, The Frozen Dialectics of Paulo Freire, in NeoLiberalism and Education Reform, Hampton Press, 2006.
- Quotations related to Pedagogy of the Oppressed at Wikiquote
- Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire
- A detailed chapter by chapter summary
- Noam Chomsky, Howard Gardner, and Bruno della Chiesa discussion about the book's impact and relevance to education today at the Askwith Forum commemorated the 45th anniversary of the publication of the book.