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Pedagogy of the Oppressed

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Harrison Soebroto

on 9 December 2013

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Transcript of Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Paulo Freire's
Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Paulo Freire
1921-1996
Grew up in the Northeast of Brazil
Lived among poor rural families and laborers and thus developed a deep understanding of their lives and of the effects of socio-economics on education
Became a grammar teacher while still in high school
Was appointed in 1946 as director of Education at SESI, an employer’s institution set up to help workers and their families
Worked with SESI and began to see more disconnections between elitist educational practices and the real lives of the working class
Became involved in the Movement for Popular Culture, and supported the active exercise of democracy in lectures and in his Ph.D. thesis, “Present-day Education in Brazil,” written in 1959
Chapter One
“This pedagogy makes oppression and its causes objects of reflection by the oppressed, and from that reflection will come their necessary engagement in their struggle for liberation” (30).
Chapter Two
"Because it is a distortion of being more fully human, sooner or later being less human leads the oppressed to struggle against those who made them so. In order for this struggle to have meaning, the oppressed must not, in seeking to regain their humanity (which is a way to create it), become in turn oppressors of the oppressors, but rather restorers of the humanity of both" (26).

“To admit of dehumanization as an historical vocation would lead either to cynicism or total despair” (26).
Question
Do you feel that the onus is really on the oppressed to restore humanity for both themselves and their oppressors?
Should
the onus be on them?
Question
Do you concur with Freire’s intimation that being more fully human revolves around integration of equal human rights?
Freedom is, "the indispensable condition for the quest for human completion” (29).
Question
How do you envision the best route for an oppressed people liberating themselves? How can, as Freire argues, the oppressed liberate themselves without operating within the realm of the oppressors?
Banking Education versus Libertarianism Education
Banking Concept
"This is the 'banking' concept of education, in which the scope of action allowed to the students extends only as far as receiving, filing, and storing the deposits[...]. Far apart from injury, apart from the praxis, individuals cannot be truly human" (53).
Libertarian Concept
"The
raison d'être
of libertarian education, on the other hand, lies in its drive towards reconciliation. Education must begin with the solution of the teacher-student contradiction, by reconciling the poles of the contradiction so that both are simultaneously teachers
and
students" (53).
"A careful analysis of the teacher-student relationship at any level, inside or outside of the school, reveals its fundamentally
narrative
character[...]. Education is suffering from narration sickness" (52).
"(a) the teacher teaches and the students are taught;
(b) the teacher knows everything and the students know nothing;
(c) the teacher thinks and the students are thought about;
(d) the teacher talks and the students listen—meekly;
(e) the teacher disciplines and the students are disciplined;
(f) the teacher chooses and enforces his choice, and the students comply;
(g) the teacher acts and the students have the illusion of acting through the action of the teacher;
(h) the teacher chooses the program content, and the students (who were not consulted) adapt to it;
(i) the teacher confuses the authority of knowledge with his or her own professional authority, which she and he sets
[sic]
in opposition to the freedom of the students;
(j) the teacher is the Subject of the learning process, while the pupils are mere objects" (54)
Links to Your Classrooms
Which educational model (banker vs. liberation) is closer to your pedagogy and classroom practice? Is your practice different than your philosophy? What causes this discrepancy?

How do you view your students? Are they the empty repositories Freire talks of, needing to be filled with knowledge? Or, are they experts in their own right?
Connections to Other Course Readings
James Baldwin
"The whole process of education occurs within a social framework and is designed to perpetuate the aims of society" (Baldwin 219).
"The purpose of education, finally, is to create in a person the ability to look at the world for himself" (Baldwin 219).
"To ask questions of the universe, and then learn to live with those questions, is the way he achieves his own identity. But no society is really anxious to have that kind of person around" (Baldwin 220).

Arthur Schlesinger
"The schools and colleges of the republic train the citizens of the future. Our public schools in particular have been the great instrument of assimilation and the great means of forming an American identity. What students are taught in school affects the way they will thereafter see and treat other Americans, the way they will thereafter conceive the purposes of the republic. The debate about the curriculum is a debate about what it means to be an American" (Schlesinger 17).
E.D. Hirsch
“Illiterate and semiliterate Americans are condemned not only to poverty, but also to the powerlessness of incomprehension. Knowing that they do not understand the issues, and feeling prey to manipulative oversimplifications, they do not trust the system of which they are supposed to be the masters” (12).
Horace Mann
"Why preserve unborn embryos of life, if we do not intend to watch over and to protect them, and to expand their subsequent existence into usefulness and happiness?” (Mann 131)
Lisa Delpit
“1. Issues of power are enacted in classrooms.
2. There are codes or rules for participating in power; that is, there is a 'culture of power.'
3. The rules of the culture of power are a reflection of the rules of the culture of those who have power.
4. If you are not already a participant in the culture of power, being told explicitly the rules of that culture makes acquiring power easier.
5. Those with power are frequently least aware of—or least willing to acknowledge—its existence. Those with less power are often more aware of its existence" (Delpit 336).
John Dewey
“We may secure technical specialized ability in algebra, Latin, or botany, but not the kind of intelligence which directs ability to useful ends. Only by engaging in a joint activity, where one person’s use of material and tools is consciously referred to the use other persons are making of their capacities and appliances, is a social direction of disposition attained” (Dewey 39).
Connections to Our Cohort
"Certain members of the oppressor class join the oppressed in their struggle for liberation, thus moving from one pole of the contradiction to the other. Theirs is a fundamental role, and has been throughout the history of this struggle" (42).
Questions
Do you see yourself as an oppressor in the context of Freire's description of our society?

Consider: "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 possessing class, they suffocate in their own possessions and no longer
are
; they merely
have
" (41).
Think about some of your own prejudices. How do they affect your classroom personality? How do they affect your daily thought processes?

Consider: "They [the oppressors who join the oppressed] almost always bring with them the marks of their origin: their prejudices and their deformations, which include a lack of confidence in the people's ability to think, to want, and to know" (42).
Summary
In Chapter One, Freire introduces his concept of the oppressed and the oppressors in our society. He notes how both groups are often oblivious to their conditions, but ultimately argues that the oppressed must lead themselves to their own freedom. The oppressed must seek freedom that comes from within, not one modeled on others.
Before We Start
Before you dive into our exploration of Freire, think about who you are in the context of our human world. Are you a positive force? What motivates you in your daily activities? Who are you as a teacher? How would you define your teaching relationship with your students?
Possible Source Biases
Gender
“Their ideal is to be men, but for them, to be men is to be oppressors” (27).

What is the significance of male and female genders in Freire's model?
Liberation
Freire notes that to liberate the oppressed without their involvement is to objectify them. A dialogue is needed so that the conviction for revolution is authentic and not packaged and sold (47-49).
Paternalism
"The oppressed, having internalized the image of the oppressor and adopted his guidelines, are fearful of freedom. Freedom would require them to eject this image and replace it with autonomy and responsibility" (29).
Questions
If members of the oppressive class (read: us) are the ones facilitating the liberation process, how can the oppressed ever discover that revolution is necessary, in their own “authentic” way? If we are involved (in the same way that Freire instigates reflection), is there not already an influential bias from us, the oppressors, devising a solution on behalf of the oppressed?
Question
Does Freire necessarily contradict himself by, as an oppressor, providing guidelines while at the same time stating that the oppressed must not emulate or follow the oppressors? Do you see a way around this impasse?
Pedagogy of the Oppressor
“Pedagogy of the Oppressed mentions none of the issues that troubled education reformers throughout the twentieth century: testing, standards, curriculum, the role of parents, how to organize schools, what subjects should be taught in various grades, how best to train teachers, the most effective way of teaching disadvantaged students. This ed-school bestseller is, instead, a utopian political tract calling for the overthrow of capitalist hegemony and the creation of classless societies. Teachers who adopt its pernicious ideas risk harming their students—and ironically, their most disadvantaged students will suffer the most” (Sol Stern, City Journal).

http://www.city-journal.org/2009/19_2_freirian-pedagogy.html
Summary
Freire discusses the roles of teachers and students in light of his statements in Chapter One concerning oppressors and the oppressed. He argues for an educational model that involves more dynamic cooperation between teacher and student instead of rote memorization and vacuous regurgitation. He postulates that the teacher should act as teacher/student and the student should act as student/teacher, discovering
information and
"reality" together.
Connection Question
Hirsch suggests that the oppressed—to use Freire's terminology—knowingly resent the oppressors and do not trust the information that such advantaged people might provide. Coupled with Freire's opinion that the oppressed must lead themselves out of oppression, does their resentment of the oppressed help or hurt them?
Connection Question
What duty, if any, do the oppressors have to try to liberate the oppressed? It seems evident that many of us believe that there is an injustice which we must right, but does that compulsion arise out of philanthropy and speciesism? Given Freire's contention that our aid can bring negatives, what steps can we take to minimize them?
Connection Question
Delpit and Freire clearly disagree and the means by which the oppressed can liberate themselves. Freire would argue that Delpit's prescribed acquiescence to the dominant culture of power does not amount to liberation. What if the oppressed emulate the dominant (oppressive) culture and then use their social power to effect change? Does that action qualify as liberation or as another form of oppression?
Connection Question
Shouldn't there be some means of imparting information to the oppressed that does not carry some form of Freire's oppression-centered language? If Freire opposes direct instruction—especially from the oppressors to the oppressed—are the oppressed supposed to ignore the acquired knowledge of centuries? Does this rejection of oppressive knowledge extend to, say, learning the English language?
Connection Question
If we keep in mind both Baldwin's and Freire's views that society uses school systems to promote its values, do you think that—on some level—we as a society are comfortable with the fact that our educational systems keep the oppressed in a position of weakness?
Connection Question
If, as Schlesinger says, our curriculum defines what it means to be American, what would Freire identify as our American values?
Outside Considerations
Consider the following legislature:
Plessy versus Ferguson (1896)
Gong Lum versus Rice (1927)
Mendez versus Westminster (1946)
Brown versus Board of Education (1954)
The Civil Rights Act (1964)
These issues all concern the political or simply humanistic rights of Freire's oppressed. Did these changes occur due chiefly to action from the oppressed or the oppressors? Could such change have happened in a different way? How do these cases/acts influence your view of Freire?
References
"A Talk to Teachers." Baldwin, James. Ed. Ayers, W. and P. Ford. (1996). City Kids, City Teachers. New York: The New Press.

Bentley, Leslie. "A Brief Biography of Paulo Freire." Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed, Inc. December 1999. <http://ptoweb.org/aboutpto/a-brief-biography-of-paulo-freire/>. 17 November 2013.

Burawoy, Michael. "V: Pedagogy of the Oppressed: Freire Meets Bordeau." Berkeley University. 18 July 2011. <http://burawoy.berkeley.edu/Bourdieu/6.Freire.pdf>. 17 November 2013.

Delpit, Lisa D. “The Silenced Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other People's Children.” Harvard Educational Review (1988).

Dewey, John. Democracy and Education. New York: The Free Press, 1966. Chapters 1-3. pp 1-40.

Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum, 2000.

Gadotti, Moacir. Reading Paulo Freire. State University of New York Press: New York, 1994.

Hirsch, E. D., Jr. Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know. New York: Vintage Books, 1988.

“Life and Works of Horace Mann.” Vol IV: pp. 105-140. Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1871.

Schlesinger, Arthur M., Jr. The Disgruntling of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society. New York: W. W. Norton and Co, 1992.

Stern, Sol. "Pedagogy of the Oppressor." City Journal. Vol 19. No. 2. (Spring 2009). <http://www.city-journal.org/2009/19_2_freirian-pedagogy.html>. 17 November 2013.
Lauren Slater and Harrison Soebroto
"praxis" (πρᾶξις): the practical application or exercise of a branch of learning
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