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The Popular Education and Community Organizing Collection Annotated Bibliography

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Last Update: 09-Oct-2005 10:27:06 am


Pedagogy of the Oppressed


Paulo Freire


The Seabury Press







The Seabury Press, 815 Second Avenue, New York 10017, Phone: 1-800-561-7704





Over twenty years ago Paulo Freire articulated a powerful message of opposition to such discourses of seemingly irreversible oppression. Freire reminded the world of the potential of human agency in the process of social change. In his most celebrated book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freire espoused a discourse of liberation based on a belief in the possibility of personal and political transformation. Freire voraciously asserted that a structure, system, or institution of oppression must not be perceived as "a closed world from which there is no exit, but as a limiting situation which the oppressed can transform". In essence, Freire declared that critical consciousness of reality is imperative to human action and social transformation. Freire's message of critical awareness, based on a conception of the dialectical relationship between the world and human consciousness, has placed Pedagogy of the Oppressed in the canon of radical educational pedagogy. The concept of critical awareness is foundational to Freire's radical pedagogy. Critical awareness is made possible through praxis which Freire defines as "reflection and action upon the world in order to transform it". Freire connects reflection and action together as part of the process in the recognition and transformation of social, economic and political contradictions. Freire's involvement in literacy campaigns during the 1960s reveals his conception of a concomitant reading of the word and a reading of the world. Not only did Freire establish an effective and efficient method of literacy education among the peasantry of Angicos Brazil, he demonstrated a methodology and philosophy of education that was distinctly political. Freire contrasts a liberatory model of education with an authoritarian educational system that he creatively terms "banking education". Based on a mechanized view of consciousness, banking education isolates the learner from the content and process of education. It assumes that the teacher knows everything; the students know nothing. In contrast, Freire promotes a libertarian education, or what he terms 'problem-posing education', that is based upon a democratic relationship between teacher and student. Freire proposes a "partnership" in which both are simultaneously teachers and students. The democratization of the content and method of teaching incites inquiry, creativity and critical thinking which impels the emergence of consciousness and the "constant unveiling of reality". This is an education that begins with the present existential reality of the people's lives.The focus is on the 'here and now' in which people's daily existence and local realities are evident. Problem-posing education seeks to transform structures of oppression by enabling people to "develop their power to perceive critically the way they exist in the world with which and in which they find themselves" Twenty-five years after the first publication of Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freire's message of liberation and social transformation remains relevant today. Translated into numerous languages, and having sold more than five hundred thousand copies world-wide, Pedagogy of the Oppressed continues to be read, debated and discussed all over the world by progressive educators and others who seek to embrace Freire's radical pedagogy. The universal appeal of Freire's works is not limited to the arena of education, but also maintains considerable influence in other disciplines such as political science, anthropology, post-colonial theory, liberation theology, international development studies, urban planning, feminism, and sociology. Freire's central thematic concerns espoused in Pedagogy of the Oppressed maintain on-going relevance to these fields of learning and teaching. Freire's conception of a highly politicized education, the unification of action and analysis, the centrality of dialogue in the process of learning, and the significance of critical awareness in social transformation continue to guide and challenge progressive educators throughout the world. Pedagogy of the Oppressed is a powerful book with a message of critical radicalism relevant to the post-modern world of the 1990s and beyond. Indeed, Paulo Freire's belief in the potential for social transformation through the process of critical awareness and action is a message that we who perceive globalization to be an unalterable system would do well to remember.




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