The Pedagogy of the Oppressed is a book authored by Paulo Freire. It is a book that clearly and articulately entangles theories of philosophy, education and politics. The book outlines theories of oppression and the possible sources of liberation today. The author believes that liberation can only be achieved when there is an awakening of people’s thinking processes and critical awareness. This is why Paulo Freire is regarded as a prominent thinker in the field of education. He believed in a system of education that would create a strong partnership between students and their teachers. He also believed in a system that would heavily empower students to engage in productive dialogue and make them undergo the humanization process. Humanization processes occur through the mind and other correlated actions. Freire empathizes on the development of critical consciousness among the oppressed. The problem of fear of freedom among the oppressed is also highlighted. The book by Paulo Freire can be used in enhancing the understanding of transformative leadership and educational institutional transformation. Through this book, education systems can be transformed into institutions where students perfect their autonomous thinking abilities. They can also be places where learners are incubated and developed into strong leaders for the future.
Freire introduced pedagogy where individuals would learn to nurture their growth through day to day experiences. Learning from experience is a pedagogy of oppressed people in society. The individual can benefit from their day to day experiences by learning to build their lives on reality. The circumstances they go through allow the individuals to analyse and reflect upon the world or environment they live. It also enables the individual not to seek ways of adapting to these conditions but to develop ways of reforming the environment to suit them and conform to the demands of history. The education systems can be helpful in nurturing the leadership abilities of individuals to learn to advocate for what is rightful in society. The oppressed are weak in society and in most cases have no say in society. However, the pedagogy of the oppressed gives these people ideas on how to create a friendly environment to live. The pedagogy advocates for transformation and not adaptation. People must seek to change the place they live to suit their desires.
In Freire’s book, there is an emphasis on the requirement that learners expound on what they are taught. Freire believed that students must be innovative and derive methods of developing new things apart from those that are in existence. Learners must create new words, which will allow them to be aware of their placing in society. Self-awareness will help individuals to develop the urge to fight for their emancipation. Freire argued that a good education system should nurture innovative students. This will transform individuals from naïve consciousness. A naive consciousness occurs when people are aware of the situation they are experiencing but make little or no effort to change anything. Naïve conscious individuals always conform to whatever adverse situation they face. Some even support such situations yet they are oppressed by the same. Freire argues that students must transform into innovative people who can find solutions to situations that oppress them. They must be in a position to develop a new reality in order to liberate themselves from the chains of oppression. Students must not become an antithesis of what they were meant to fight against. Transformational leadership is autonomous and innovative.
Freire believed that people must reflect on the situation they are undergoing and think of the best ways out. They must develop the consciousness of their struggle by transforming the prevailing reality. Educational transformation enables one to liberate themselves from the chains of oppression inserted by old and traditional pedagogy. The educational system enables them to develop new perspectives and identify ways of self-liberation. The new ways of thinking and the internalization of different social status one can hold are capable of changing individuals from oppression to liberation. The understanding of social status does not have to be materialistic. The cognitive aspect of understanding is significant because it helps in the liberation of oppression found in the individual’s consciousness. Freire believed that students, using a systematic study schedule, can learn to fight oppression and hold constructive criticism that would lead to achievement of the status quo.
Freire proposed a method in the pedagogy of the oppressed that could be used to fight oppression. The method comprised of two sequential and distinct processes. First, the individual must become conscious of the prevailing conditions that they live. They must know that they are living under oppression because of the decisions and orders imposed on them by their oppressor. Secondly, the individual must take the initiative to fight back and liberate themselves from the jaws of oppression. According to Freire, knowing the problem alone is not the end of it. The individual must fight against the forces of oppression. This is because it is the individual’s historical need to resist the oppressed status that dwells within them. The educational transformation enables learners to be conscious of their status. It also opens up their minds to know what is rightful and fight for their liberation.
Oppressed individuals are known to be instigators of disagreements and violence in each of the relationship they establish. This occurs even when the events and conditions they have undergone in their lives convince them to reform and modify their status. Oppressors view the violence caused by the oppressed as unnecessary fights. They do not believe that the oppressed are pursuing revolutionary ideas of ideological commitment with peers. The oppressor thinks the oppressed are only satisfied by the battles they cause. The situation experienced by the oppressed cannot be said to be God’s will because He does not make people end up in oppression. It is the society that has little or no conscience where oppression is regarded to be a normal situation. Such situations lead to horizontal violence and resistance amongst the oppressed in society as they seek to liberation. Transformational leadership involves people identifying their real problems and solving them outright. Learners must understand the process of seeking liberation. They should not attack fellow oppressed individuals in society. Instead, they must focus on pursuing the revolutionary ideas that will enable them attain liberation by defeating their oppressors. This can only be achieved through organized teamwork where oppressed people unite against their oppressor.
In an ideal oppression society, the oppressors always accuse rebellious oppressed members to be disobedient, irresponsible and the reason for their own condition. This indicates that the oppressed are always victims of disrespect and unfair treatment. Even though some of the accusations made by the oppressors to the oppressed are true, the oppressors are actually the cause of tension and violence. The oppressed are usually subjected to continuous exploitation. The oppressed find it difficult to bear with the situation until some even accept oppression as their fate and conform to it without resistance. This situation creates emotional dependence in the oppressed that becomes irrevocable in the long run. Educational transformation and transformational leadership is designed to help the oppressed people in society to realize the need to fight for liberation. It creates self-awareness which stirs the urge to fight the forces of oppression.
Paulo Freire introduced the concept of the “bank” in education to explain oppression. He used the assumptions to critique and problematize the concepts of freedom and education. He argued that people are meant to impart knowledge and educate one another through interactions. From the book, it is clear that the current education systems involve too much lecturing, as well as, memorization. There is little analysis of the concepts that are being taught and memorized. There is a need to transform the education system to make it immensely analytical and comprehensive. Learners must not just memorize concepts. They must learn how to interpret, understand and analyse them and determine how each concept affects human beings.
The education systems must be transformed to do away with the prevailing situation where knowledge is simply deposited into students. The bank concept of education is meant to challenge the minds of individuals so that they can react well to different situations. Passiveness is a recipe to oppression because it allows people to be subjects rather than be in charge. Adapting to reality and taking charge of events leads to creativity and the eradication of naivety. When people are aware of their surrounding and act to develop desirable conditions, they are able to liberate themselves from oppression.
People must fight for their interests and liberation of their culture. Culture and interests form the most crucial aspect of the life of human beings. The education systems do not empower learners to protect their culture and interests. Freire in the pedagogy of oppressed argues that learners must nurture their being through liberating themselves from the nature of the world today. The education system should be transformed into a system that does not alienate or mechanize people into objects of oppression. It should be designed to provide solutions and increase the awareness of learners.
The education system advocated for by Freire in the pedagogy is one where there is conscious action and the content is easy to understand and analyse. The relationship between teachers and students has to be mutually beneficial. This is where teachers teach and discuss along with students. The system should be all inclusive. The current system is unilateral, making students reliant on teachers. It also makes students to be less analytic and critical of the issues they are taught.
Paulo Freire argues that education systems do allow people to internalize and transform the prevailing reality. This is because the current education systems are designed to help the learner adapt or conform to these conditions. This system is not solution oriented. The system must be transformed so that learners are taught how they can transform the reality into what they feel is right. This is the only way people can liberate themselves from oppression. Dialogicity has to be developed between teachers and learners. There must be free and comprehensive communication between the two parties so that the necessary knowledge can be passed on to the learners. Dialogue is a prime component of the learning process because it increases reciprocal kindness, bravery and eliminates cowardice.
The leadership in the current world must also be transformed if oppression is to be eliminated. There are many people who go to the masses claiming to be leaders. However, most of these people are after protecting personal interests. Such leaders ask the masses to move on to adapt to new life yet their past injustices are unsolved. Such leaders are naïve and believe that if the public adapt new lifestyles where there are opportunities for liberation they can end oppression. Leaders must understand that there is a need to solve historical injustices. Therefore, Freire believed that there was a need for leadership transformation to ensure that the leaders communicated what is right for the people. The leaders must be focused on the interests of the public and not personal gain.
Freire believed that leaders must become interactive with their subjects. This enables the leader to identify the problems undergone by the people and know the language of the people. The leader must study and internalize the people’s language. Leaders gain knowledge about people through problematizing education. Only then will the leader be able to articulate the issues of the people accurately. The leader must transform his knowledge about the people by understanding specific issues. They should not just address general things and assume that they are helping the public.
Freire argued that when one wants to gain knowledge on a generative topic, they must look for people who need generative knowledge. Liberation can only be achieved by learning from the people who are oppressed. One must know how the oppressed reason and know how to impart generative ideas in them. Oppressed people need new ideas that can guide them to liberation. Studying generative ideologies has two steps. Step one is to go to the ground and experience the events first hand and know how oppressed people think. Step two is to use this knowledge in a systematic process by focusing on group interaction. This enables every of the oppressed people to gain new ideas and be conscious of reality. This is the foundation of guiding people to liberation. Therefore, the education system must be transformational in nature by helping learners know what the reality is and how they can find solutions to their problems.
In the pedagogy of the oppressed, Freire argued that Dialogicity and antidialogicity served liberation and oppression respectively. Dialogicity has distinct features while antidialogicity its features too. Transformational leadership must embrace Dialogicity because it represents cultural synthesis, union, collaboration and organization. On the contrary, antidialogicity represents features such division, conquests, cultural invasion and manipulation.
Oppressors try to pursue antidialogicity so as to maintain the prevailing the status quo. Oppressors try to conquer using unilateral dialogue and other ideological instruments. Oppressors also seek ways of disrupting dialogue to prevent people from uniting. They give reasons such as disruption of social peace when speaking to the oppressed on liberation. Alienating the oppressed keeps them weak and unaware of the reality hence; continued oppression. Oppressors also manipulate the public with the aim of making them adapt a given set of ideologies. These forms of manipulation should be overcome by the oppressed if they have to achieve liberation status.
Leadership must be transformed from self-centred leadership to inclusive leadership. The leader must have the interest of the public at heart. Sober leaders will help the oppressed liberate from the rich in society. Good leadership prevents cultural invasion. Cultural invasion is applied by oppressors to make the oppressed lose values and transform the form of speaking. Leadership should be designed to encourage dialogue between the oppressed. Anti-dialogue is a recipe for oppression and leaders must fight to do away with it.
The pedagogy of the oppressed asserts that an individual should nurture him or herself rather than be nurtured. Freire argues that oppression can only be ended when the educational institutions transform into places where students are taught to be aware of reality and analytic in their dealings. Educational opportunities and topics should be derived from real life experiences. This will enable the learner to problematize their lives so as to realize what they need and can attain different status. The current education system has many pitfalls where student are taught artificial experiences hence; it limits their real life experience analysis. A good educational system is likely to have limiting factors. However, the limiting factors are a result of resistance from a group of oppressors. Thee oppressors do not want the status quo to change. Oppressors use various methods to keep their status as the oppressors. They use manipulation, conquest, cultural invasion and division to implement their mission. However, Freire believed that good leadership must be upheld if liberation of the oppressed is to become a reality. Leaders must seek to nurture a society where the oppressed are organized, united, in collaboration and their cultural synthesis upheld. This will give the oppressed the awareness to seek for liberation.
Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the Oppressed: 30th Anniversary Edition (annotated, reprint, revised ed.). New York: Continuum International Publishing Group.