Analytical Note 3 – Paulo Freire

Analytical note 3 is in response to: Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Freire is a Brazilian educator and philosopher whose book Pedagogy of the Oppressed has influenced people all over the world. This book makes a case that all people have the right to learn and all people are capable of learning.  That those in power are working to keep that power and that education threatens the status quo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed looks at some key elements that must happen for those who are oppressed to become liberated.

Freire starts his book by giving a beginning location for those who oppress and those who are oppressed. He describes several different mechanisms that oppressors can use to maintain their position of power. False generosity creates an environment that ensures that the oppressed are dependent upon those in power. This then programs the oppressed into behavior that can be easily controlled. People are items that can be used and are expendable.

When educating the oppressed, Freire talks about a “banking” model (pg. 72). This model is one where the teacher has the knowledge and the student is the one who needs to be filled. In an oppressive system, there is no shared classroom between the student and the teacher. This allows the teacher to push the educational process into the direction that benefits those in power and along the way, takes away a students ability to think critically. When students lose their capacity to think critically, they fall into the system as submissive participants and fit right into the world the oppressors have established.

For the people striving for liberation, being educated is very important. This education works best when the teacher does force a system the oppressed, but one develops one of shared discovery. In this system both the teacher and the student will operate inside of both of these roles. When the teacher and the student continually interact and investigate the world (and other people) with an open lens, the education is much more meaningful and lasting. This type of education, one that does not use the “banking” (pg. 72) concept is very threatening to those who are in positions of power. One of the practical suggestions that Freire makes, is that the people should read the editorial pages after a significant news story. Reading from different papers allows the people to develop different questions of what happened and helps learn to criticize and analyze the news. This simple action will move the people from subjugation toward seeking freedom.

Freire talks in several different places about dialogical and antidialogical theory and how these two viewpoints are polar opposites of each other. In antidialogical thought, the leadership works to keep the people oppressed. They divide the people against each other, they offer welfare, and they use different forms of manipulation to maintain their power. Antidialogical thought is violent and harmful for the oppressed. With dialogical theory there is no manipulation and the people work with the leadership to develop genuine organization. This theory builds a system of encouragement and intimacy for all involved and all work for the betterment of their beliefs. Leaders who allow the people to speak their own words, to be able to learn and “name the world” (pg. 178) are practicing dialogical thinking.

When looking at Freire, he states in several different places that a single person cannot change their position by themselves. In order to change from being an oppressor to joining the revolution requires others to help in the process. This thinking is different than what Johnson believes. Johnson felt that everyone had the capacity to change the way they thought. People could choose a path of more resistance, they could influence those around them, they could step into uncomfortable situations and do all of these as an individual.

Comparing what Freire thought about education to what we have seen from Nussbaum, I think they would be similar, but different. Nussbaum makes a strong case for the Socratic method and understanding all about the world around you. She encourages people to become citizens of the world and have an understanding that people are different and to respect those differences. Although Freire does not make his statement in the same way, he does encourage the oppressed to learn and engage in the process of learning. He is primarily speaking to those who have a different view of what the world is, but he is wanting to see an open dialogue that helps develop the people and give them a voice. The oppressed should be able to interact and learn from the world around them and interact and learn from other people.

One of the problems that Freire has had is that his text was written in a very masculine form. His original text did not refer to women very often, although the text we read was more even. Weiler makes some very strong points about the way that Freire has spoken about his writing since it has been updated. If he truly believed what he wrote should he not understand the most women are in a position of oppression? His book makes such a strong case for achieving liberation from oppression, why not also encourage women to look at this book in that way. Weiller says that if you take “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” for the themes that it teaches, it would apply to women. But the question remains, why will Freire not come out and say that.

Praxis – reflection and action directed at the structures to be transformed (pg. 127). Or Praxis = Word = Work which go with Action and Reflection (pg. 87).

Plenitude – an abundance

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