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A Book Review
Presented to Mr. Ron Daracan Faculty Metro Manila College U-Site Kaligayan, Novaliches, Quezon City
In Partial fulfillment For the requirements in Social Science 117 (World History and Civilization II)
By: Roy Java Villasor BSEd 2
23 October 2012
I. Introduction A. Historical Background Pedagogy of the Oppressed 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 and published in English in 1970. The book is considered one of the foundational texts of critical pedagogy. B. Author Biography Freire was born September 19, 1921 to a middle class family in Recife, Brazil. He became familiar with poverty and hunger. In 1931, his family moved to the less expensive city of Jaboatão dos Guararapes, and in 1933 his father died. In school, he ended up four grades behind, and his social life revolved around playing pick up football with other poor children, from whom he learned a great deal. These experiences would shape his concerns for the poor and would help to construct his particular educational viewpoint. Freire enrolled at Law School at the University of Recife in 1943. He also studied philosophy, more specifically phenomenology, and the psychology of language. Although admitted to the legal bar, he never actually practiced law but instead worked as a teacher in secondary schools teaching Portuguese. In 1944, he married Elza Maia Costa de Oliveira, a fellow teacher. The two worked together and had five children. In 1946, Freire was appointed Director of the Department of Education and Culture of the Social Service in the state of Pernambuco. Working primarily among the
illiterate poor, Freire began to embrace a non-orthodox form of what could be considered liberation theology. In Brazil at that time, literacy was a requirement for voting in presidential elections. In 1961, he was appointed director of the Department of Cultural Extension of Recife University, and in 1962 he had the first opportunity for significant application of his theories, when 300 sugarcane workers were taught to read and write in just 45 days. In response to this experiment, the Brazilian government approved the creation of thousands of cultural circles across the country. In 1964, a military coup put an end to that effort. Freire was imprisoned as a traitor for 70 days. After a brief exile in Bolivia, Freire worked in Chile for five years for the Christian Democratic Agrarian Reform Movement and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. In 1967, Freire published his first book, Education
as the Practice of Freedom. He followed this with his most famous book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, first published in Portuguese in 1968.
On the strength of reception of his work, Freire was offered a visiting professorship at Harvard University in 1969. The next year, Pedagogy of the Oppressed was published in both Spanish and English, vastly expanding its reach. Because of political feuds between Freire, a Christian socialist, and successive authoritarian military dictatorships, the book wasn't published in Brazil until 1974, when General Ernesto Geisel became the then dictator president beginning the process of a slow and controlled political liberalization.
After a year in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, Freire moved to Geneva, Switzerland to work as a special education advisor to the World Council of Churches. During this time Freire acted as an advisor on education reform in former Portuguese colonies in Africa, particularly Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique. In 1979, he was able to return to Brazil, and moved back in 1980. Freire joined the Workers' Party (PT) in the city of São Paulo, and acted as a supervisor for its adult literacy project from 1980 to 1986. When the PT prevailed in the municipal elections in 1988, Freire was appointed Secretary of Education for São Paulo. In 1986, his wife Elza died. Freire married Maria Araújo Freire, who continues with her own educational work. He died of heart failure on May 2, 1997 in São Paulo, Brazil. C. Central Theme
The Pedagogy of the Oppressed is a book about ideas, and the ideas presented are those of the author, Paulo Freire. It is of essay/narrative form for it is a literary composition devoted to
the presentation of the writer's own ideas on a topic and generally addressing a particular aspect of the subject. II. Summary/Plot The original book was written in Portuguese entitled Pedagogia do Oprimido. The book contains four chapters. It has several language translation and reprinting in commemoration for its 30th year of publication in English language in the year 2000.The first chapter also known as “The revolutionary context” explores how oppression has
been justified and how it is overcome through a mutual process between the "oppressor" and the "oppressed" (oppressors-oppressed distinction). Examining the balance of power between the colonizer and the colonized remains relatively stable, the author told 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". According to him, freedom will be the result of praxis — established
custom or habitual practice or informed action — when there is a balance between theory and practice is achieved. Freire's analysis of the social situation is based on the ideas of dialectical materialism; an oppressor class oppresses and an oppressed class is oppressed. His particular concern is with the state of consciousness of the oppressed class. The oppressed class is submerged, having accepted the thing status into which they are oppressed. The historical vocation of the oppressed class is to struggle against the oppressor and realize their humanity which the oppressor denies them. Only the oppressed class can realize humanity, but they do it for all. That is the oppressed class has the role of liberating the oppressors, as well as itself, from their role as oppressors, thus resolving a contradiction in which they neither are fully human. The second chapter (Banking Education v. Problem-posing education) examines the "banking" approach to education — a metaphor used by the author that suggests
students are considered empty bank accounts that should remain open to deposits made by the teacher. He 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, he 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. The third chapter (Dialog is central to a pedagogy of the oppressed) developed the use of the term limit-situation with regards to dimensions of human praxis. In this chapter Freire outlines his educational programs with the rural poor in Latin America. These programs use political content gleaned from the observed everyday life of the peasants to teach critical awareness. The chapter describes the programs in some ldetail. Initially material will be gathered partly by Freire's assistants and partly by leaders from amongst the peasants using audio-visual equipment. The preliminary investigation will discover certain themes in the political and social life of the people. Freire refers to these as 'generative' themes; according to Freire each epoch and each locality has its own 'generative' themes; these are the key political themes of the community (a subset of the society and in turn of the epoch). Of course; the themes are understood as having a dialectical binary opposite. There is a dialectical struggle striving for plenitude. These dialectical struggles will necessarily focus on limitsituations; points at which the human potential of the people is being frustrated but which they could go beyond if they could overcome their fatalism. The material is
investigated and a selection is made from which codifications are made. This material is then discussed in groups with the peasants („thematic investigation circles') and decoded. Their discussions are observed and recorded by a psychologist and a sociologist. Then, using this material gleaned from the meetings, and insights provided by the psychologist and sociologist the team study their findings and identify the themes which have emerged. The recordings made of these discussions together with the notes from the psychologist and sociologists are also presented by the team to appropriate University academics. The professors add some content of their own. These may be in the form of recorded interviews. The team may also add additional material
which was not turned up in the investigations with the people including key themes of a more academic nature such as the idea of 'culture'. This material is now codified and the coded material, together with the contributions from the professors, is now taken back to groups of the rural poor and forms the content for "culture group" discussions. In these the peasants decode the encoded representations of their own 'generative themes', the key social and political dilemmas they face. They may also listen to and discuss the recordings made by 'specialists'. The decoding is the key process which leads to insight. So the encodings must be done sensitively. The last chapter proposes dialogic 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. III. Critical Assessment A. Characterization The book is discussion type wherein the author discussed the problems that lay in education and proposed solutions to the problems. The author blames the capitalist of education and set a revolution in education. The author introduced concepts and theories surrounding education during the 20th century. He proposed the idea that education should be a "dialogical process" in which students and teachers are learning from their experiences. Therefore, there is no prevalent character on the written book but there are terms used to refer as to be characters/ subjects of the story like oppressed and oppressors. B. Authors central argument or thesis Throughout the book, Freire argued for a system of education that emphasizes learning as an act of culture and freedom. The "oppressor" and the "oppressed" and the actions that occur between them. Freire argued that the underclass could be empowered through literacy. He also pointed out that education could be used to create a passive and submissive citizen, but that it also has the potential to empower students
by instilling in them a "critical consciousness." Freire wanted the individual to form himself rather than be formed. C. Author‟s point of view, purpose and perspective Freire‟s view conceives of humans as objects, and they are mouldable and
adaptable. The other view sees humans as subjects, independent beings, able to transcend and recreate the world. Other concepts of Freire's pedagogy of the oppressed is the "culture of silence.The oppressors overwhelm the oppressed with their values and norms, which effectively silences people. He uses the concept of "myth". By pressure from those in power, the oppressed have internalised those myths, which we can speak of here as "lies" because they have been purposefully and knowingly imposed upon the people without taking into consideration their reality. D. Implication of the book to: 1. Politics: Concepts of Freire on writing this book open up the idea of liberalism, democracy and open societies. It is relates the readers to how the leaders should act and deal their relations to the subordinates. 2. Economy: Reading Pedagogy of the Oppressed gave a language to critically understand the tensions, contradictions, fears, doubts, hopes, and “deferred” dreams that are part and parcel of living a borrowed and colonized cultural existence.
3. Society: Oppressed people all over the world would identified Paulo Freire‟s denunciation of the oppressive conditions that were choking millions of poor people, including a large number of middle-class families that had bitterly begun to experience the inhumanity of hunger in a potentially very rich and fertile country like we hadPhilippines. 4. Culture: This book denotes the realization of class borders that led, invariably, to Freire‟s radical rejection of a class-based society. 5. Religion: As for me societal perspective of a persons reflects the percentage of how much he/ she believes and how he was affected by those mythological beliefs and animistic he was. 6. Education: Freire's concepts on writing this book are very closely related to attributes as a teacher. His concepts and ideas are closely connected today's education. Teachers are using student pre-selected knowledge and their experiences to drive our instruction. Freire's concepts and ideas are implemented into most students, classroom, and teaching styles. IV. Conclusion: Although I found it too difficult to read and comprehend a large portion of Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed, I thought that Freire was ahead of his time with ideas that are widely discussed and executed in classrooms today. Majority of his concepts and ideas were correct and lead to what education is today. For example,
Freire's banking concept is exactly what we do not want teachers to do today. We want to produce students who can think together and independently. We also want students to be able to construct ideas thoroughly and with ease. I think the reason his work was banned and rejected by educators at the time of first publishing the book, throughout the world and continued to resurface is because people were not happy with the truth being told out loud. They did not want to face the reality of their situations and directly deal with them. Even though Freire‟s book is hard to comprehend for the first reading it is worth enough to spent your spare time to become more productive and intellectually full. I would recommend students to read this book. For further reprinting of this book I would recommend understanding. to add more glossary of terms used by Freire for easy
Index: Terms commonly used by Freire in Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Oppressed-Those who are under the power of others in virtually any way. Oppressors-Those who dominate others in virtually any way. Oppression-the oppressed adopt the oppressor's consciousness and even admire and envy the oppressed. Dehumanization-process wherein the oppressed develop critical awareness that they are oppressed. Praxis-interrelationship between theory ( or insight) and action. Action that does not follow from theory is weak and untrustworthy. Theory which doesn't lead to action is mere game playing. Dialectical-a notion of a way to be in the world (call it A) develops in history that embodies a view of the world. However, the view has in it directions which ensure its own end.
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