Pedagogy of the Oppressed

This reading was really eye-opening to me. I think I was raised with the idea that everyone can get an education if they work hard enough and this reading definitely exposed flaws in that way of thinking. Education, at its core, is liberating to me. Education is all about learning and to me, learning is how you grow and change. However, in Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire, I considered the alternative: how education is capable of, and does, oppress people.

A passage I really liked from the second chapter was the idea that “the oppressed are not ‘marginals’ are not living ‘outside’ society. They have been ‘inside’ the structure which made them ‘beings for others.’ The solution is not to ‘integrate’ them into the structure of oppression but to transform that structure so that they can become ‘beings for themselves.’ (Page 3). I think this passage is suggesting that instead of trying to fit everyone into a system, change the system first and that says a lot about our education system. Education liberates us by giving us opportunities, growth, and wisdom. Education oppresses us because to get those benefits, one has to fit into the system that is not attainable or realistic for everyone.

The other argument that Freire makes is that the way we structure our education is oppressive, especially in math and science. Freire describes, in chapter one, the “’fear of freedom’ which afflicts the oppressed, a fear which may equally well lead them to desire the role of oppressor or bind them to the role of oppressed.” What this is saying is that students are often so brainwashed by the structure and system that we have been born and raised in that when we have the chance to make choices for ourselves, we are lost and fearful. Throughout my own education, I felt I have had very little control over what classes I take, what courses are required, and I have had to follow a rigid set of academic guidelines that did not have my learning style, my educational needs, or the best education for me in mind, which proves how oppressive the education system can be.

These readings definitely gave me a lot to think about and have a lot of power that I hope to be able to translate to my own learning and education.


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