Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Freire)

Well, this one had stared down at me from the shelf for long enough. I decided that it was finally time to push my way through. Margin notes, including many definitions, provided an historical account of my previous attempts. For a while, perhaps because I’m just older or, more probably, because I’ve studied many who came after Freire, I was doing well. I agreed with what he criticized about the ‘banking’ approach to education and advocated in terms of ‘problem-posing’ education. The end of chapter 1 was a period of real clarity, as I think I understood and recognized much of what he has to say about the oppressed here. Obviously, I became overconfident, and several subsequent sections stymied me.

My confidence returned at the outset of Chapter 3, as I found myself in enthusiastic agreement with what Freire offers here about language and how it is an act of creation. Then the gaps between margin notes became longer. I found myself turning pages with only the vaguest sense that I understood what Freire was saying. The sections on ‘Divide and Rule’ and ‘Cultural Invasion’ opened up for me in useful ways.

I don’t think anyone, especially me, can review Freire. His work, in my perspective, stands outside of such a realm. Instead, I will offer that though I found much of it hard going, I found it all – especially those moments that resonated with my personal and professional experiences – to be incredibly compelling. Freire asks many questions, and I close the book – temporarily – asking myself, “What are my myths?”


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