Oppression Versus Liberation within Education

Let us first define the word liberate. Liberate or rather liberation means to set (someone) free from a situation, especially imprisonment or slavery, in which their liberty is severely restricted, according to the Oxford Dictionary. In short, someone that is liberated from something or someone who was impeded upon their freedom is taking away ones right to be completely and utterly free. Our nation’s history is full of instances when individuals thought it best to impose their views and beliefs upon others. However if the individuals being imposed upon do not speak up for their own beliefs how can a mutual understanding between both parties be reached to allow both to facilitate their free will without impeding on each other’s values? Paulo Freire states in the book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, that the oppressed “…will not gain…liberation by chance but through the praxis of their quest for it, through their recognition of the necessity to fight…” for what it is they are hoping to find (pg. 45). In essence, those who are being oppressed and not speaking out on their own behalf are giving into the imposed belief system; giving up their own beliefs assuming that their not speaking out will prevent further conflict. They lose their authority, their liberties, and their freedom. Considering the statement above, I would have to say that education does liberate those who Freire explains as individuals aware of oppression. In order for education to be liberating, specifically to a student, “they must perceive the reality of oppression not as a closed world from which there is no exit, but as a limiting solution which they can transform” (pg. 49). Education in its trues form allows for students to gain knowledge, exchange ideas, debate topics, and question society so as to push them to alter the way the generations before them perceive the world; redefining the way society functions. However, if students do not seek to discover new ideas and push for knowledge, the pressure to insert reform into the world is lost because the very individuals that build the next generation of leaders is left to following the pre-established road paved ahead because there is no motivation to change what is perceived to be successful is in obstructing society’s nature to become better; to be better. Education becomes oppressive when students lose interest in what it is they are attempting to do. Lack of focus within some educational systems, in essence, misguides students into thinking they cannot make a difference in their community, states, nation, and even the world. In this cause, education becomes an oppressor to its students. It takes away the students’ free will and replaced their drive for innovation and thirst for knowledge. However, as Freire states in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, “It is only the oppressed who, by freeing themselves, can free their oppressors” (pg. 56). The need for change in the education system must be fought for by the students and enforced by the older generations.


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