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Pedagogy of the Oppressed

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  • Pedagogy of the Oppressed

    Has anyone read this ground-breaking and controversial book by Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire? I just finished it today and would like to present some of my feelings towards it. I felt that it was very truthful on many themes, such as people mistaking democracy as the preservation of the status quo and the fear of freedom due to either having too much of the dominating characteristics of the oppressors in you or mistrust of the people. I also agreed that you must dialogue with the people, and seek to understand their world and thoughts instead of forcing the thoughts of the oppressor or what you believe things should be. A leader, a teacher is needed, but their words aren't and shouldn't be supreme; they must work with the people, the students, in order to gain trust and develop and learn together. I also found his many anecdotes interesting, such as people in a NYC ghetto looking at pictures of garbage in the street and claiming that it must be Africa or Latin America, because such things can't be in the USA, but little did they know that it was a scene from the very street they were on. It's this manipulation and lack of consciousness of the social, political, and economic contradictions that leads people to stay oppressed.

    I also found that many things he wrote, such as false charity by the oppressors to keep the oppressed wanting more and accepting their passiveness, and cultural invasions by metropolitan powers that destroy their colonies' cultures to the point that in those colonies to be and act like the oppressor is the way to go, could perfectly relate to Puerto Rico's colonial situation.

    However, you could be mislead with his views that a revolutionary society that doesn't whatever it takes to make sure the oppressors don't return to power isn't contradicting the revolution. Yes, dialogue with the oppressor didn't exist before the revolution, therefore it isn't a contradiction that it doesn't exist afterwards. However, if the revolutionary leaders should do whatever it takes to prevent a coup, which includes killing innocents and oppressing "controversial" views by the people, then it wouldn't be an authentic revolution. The leaders have lost touch with the people and started to incorporate the characteristics and ideals of the former oppressors. To realize this, you would have to have read and comprehend to book to note what he really means by "whatever it takes," which doesn't include oppressing the former oppressed. Freire does repeat and reword a lot of his views in many chapters and sometimes has a rambling style, but it was a good read and I recommend it.