PAOLO FREIRE'S PEDAGOGY OF THE OPPRESSED

SUMMARY

New York: Seabury, 1974. Translated from the original Portuguese (1968) by Myra Bergman Ramos

CULTURE OF SILENCE. Every person, however ignorant or submerged in the "culture of silence," can look critically at his or her world through a process of dialogue with others, and can gradually come to perceive his personal and social reality, think about it, and take action in regard to it. (back cover)

FROM OBJECT TO SUBJECT. Through the process just described, the view of an illiterate or other oppressed person is so transformed that he or she is no longer to be a mere object responding as surrounding social forces direct. (back cover)

EDUCATION'S EITHER/OR. Education either conditions the younger generation into acceptance of society's status quo or becomes "the practice of freedom" through which people deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to transform their worlds. (15)

DEHUMANIZATION, which afflicts both those whose humanity has been stolen and those who have stolen it, distorts the process of becoming more fully human.(28)

DEPENDENCE. The peasant begins to get courage to overcome his dependence when he realizes that he is dependent. Until then, he goes along with the boss and says, "What can I do? I'm only a peasant." (47)

SELF-DEPRECIATION. This derives from internalization of the oppressors' opinions. They so often hear that they're "good for nothing, know nothing, and are capable of learning anything&emdash;that they are sick, lazy, and unproductive" that finally they believe it.. . . "The boss seems to be the only one who knows things and is able to run things." . . . Or to the educator, "We ought to keep quiet and let you talk. You are the one who knows, we don't know anything."

SELF-DEPRECIATION CAN CHANGE. "They used to say we we were unproductive because we were lazy and drunkards. All lies. Now that we are respected as men, we're going to show everyone that we were never drunkards or lazy. We were exploited." (50)

THE NATURE OF OPPRESSOR CONSCIOUSNESS. It tends to transform everything around it into an object of its domination. The earth, property, production, people's creations, the people themselves, time&emdash;everything comes to be viewd as objects at the disposal of their perchasing power. The main thing becomes to have more, always more. In this materialistic concept of culture, "to be is to have and to be the class of the 'haves.'" They can't see that they "suffocate in their own possessions and no longer are; they merely have." Of course they blind themselves to all this. "If others do not have more, it is because they are incompetent and lazy. . . Because they are "ungrateful" and "envious," they are seen as potential enemies." Often this desire for complete domination includes a sadistic impulse.(45)

CHANGE IN THE OPPRESSED AND OPPRESSORS. Although oppression dehumanizes both parties and stifles their humanity, the oppressed has to lead the struggle for a fuller humanity for both. The oppressor, who is himself dehumanized because he dehumanizes others, tries to hang onto his power and dehumanizing practices. (32) When the oppressed seek to regain and deepen their humanity, they must not in turn oppress the oppressors, but rather help to restore the humanity of both. (28) The contradiction between the two classes is resolved by the appearance of a new kind of human being, one in the process of liberation. It's not possible to eliminate oppression just by a shift of roles in which the oppressor becomes the oppressed and vice-versa. (42) In such change we can't say that one person liberates himself, or another, but that people in communion liberate each other. (128)

WHEN OPPRESSORS JOIN IN THE STRUGGLE FOR LIBERATION. When they move to the side of the exploited, "they almost always bring with them the marks of their orgin. . . which include a lack of confidence in the people's ability to think, to want, and to know." They "believe that they must be the executors of the transformation. They talk about the people, but they do not trust them. . . A real humanist can be identified more by his trust in the people, which engages him in their struggle, than by a thousand actions in their favor without that trust." (46) "Revolutionary leaders cannot think about the people, or for the people, but only with the people." (128)

RESTRICTIONS THAT PREVENT THE RETURN OF OPPRESSION. When those who were formerly kept down establish a new situation in which those who held power before lose their special priveleges and find themselves on a more or less equal footing with others, then they are likely to feel oppressed. Any restriction on their way of life feels unjust. For the oppressors, "human beings" refers only to themselves; other people are "things." (43) An act is that keeps the former oppressors from regaining their former place, maintains Freire, is "oppressive only when it prevents people from being more fully human. Accordingly, restraints that keep the former oppressors from regaining their former position and putting rigid old solcial structures back in place do not constitute oppression. (42)

BUREAUCRACY VS. HUMANISM. If a new order "hardens into a dominating bureaucracy, the humanist dimension of the struggle is lost and it is no longer possible to speak of liberation." (43)

FALSE CHARITY VS. TRUE GENEROSITY. False charity gives a little something to the extended hands of the have-nots, but preserves the haves' power. True generosity lies in "striving so that these hands&emdash;whether of individuals or of peoples&emdash;need be extended less and less in supplication" and become capable of working and transforming the world. (29)

INITIALLY THE OPPRESSED IDENTIFY WITH THEIR OPPRESSORS. If given a bit of power, at first the oppressed tnd themselves to become petty tyrants. "Their ideal is to be men; but for them, to be men is to be oppressors. This is their mofel of humanity. They are still identified with their oppressors' values. The peasant who becomes a foreman may be harsher toward the other peasants than the owner. The context of the situation remains unchanged. (30)

PRESCRIPTION AND FREEDOM. Every prescription, like the oppressed's prescription for the oppressor, imposes one person's choice on another and bring the consciousness of the latter into conformity with the former's views. This can be threatening, because it would require the subservient to replace the oppressor's image of them with one that stresses autonomy and responsibility. (31) The oppressed learn that without freedom, they can't exist authenticlly, but at the same time they fear authentic existence. There are conflicts between throwing out their "internal oppressor" or not, between being fuly themselves or being divided, between being actors with choices or spectators who do as they're told, between solidarity and alienation. (33)

THE SITUATION CAN BE TRANSFORMED. For the oppressed to be able to wage the struggle for theirliberation, they need to "perceive the reality of oppression not as a closed world from which there is no exit, but as a limiing situation which they can transform." (34)

CHANGE IN OPPRESSOR'S ATTITUDE. The oppressor truly helps the oppressed only when he stops viewing them as an abstract category and sees them as unique persons who have been unjustly dealt with, deprived, and cheated. This requires an end to pious, individualistic gestures and risking an act of love. To affirm that people "should be free, and yet to do nothing tangible to make this affirmation a reality, is a farce."

DIALOGUE. "To substitute monologue, slogans, and communiques for dialogue is to attempt to liberate the oppressed with the instruments of domestication." This is the "populist pitfall"--transforming them into masses which can be manipulated. People can only be liberated with their reflective participation in the act of liberation. (52)

INDEPENDENCE CANNOT BE GIVEN AS A GIFT. "While no one liberates himself by his own efforts alone, neither is he liberated by others. (53)

ONE-SIDED NARRATIVES. In traditional education, there is a narrator (the teacher) and a listening object (the students.) "Education is suffering from narration sickness." (57) This minimizes students' creative power, and "serves the interests of the oppressors, who care neither to have the world revealed nor to see it transformed." They "react almost instinctively against any experiment in education which stimulates the critical faculties and is not content with a partial view of reality. (60)

THE BANKING MODEL OF EDUCATION turns students into "receptacles" to be "filled" by the teachers, like making deposits at a bank. The teacher deposits and students are the depositories. Students receive, memorize, and repeat. (58) Since we "receive" the world as passive entities, education should make us more passive still, and adjust us to our world so that we do not question it. The banking model tries to control thinking and action and inhibits our creative powers. It tries to maintain the submersion of consciousness. In it we are merely spectators, not re-creators. (62)

STAGES IN THE BANKING MODEL. The banking concept distinguishes two states. In the first, the educator cognizes a cognizable object and prepares a lesson. During the second, he expounds to his students about it. (67)

"MYTHICIZING" REALITY. Banking education tries to conceal certain facts that explain the way we exist in the world. It fails to acknowlege that we are historical beings, and that what we take as "reality" are particular historical conditions. (71)

POPULIST CHARASMATIC LEADERS. Liberating education does not mean the oppressed coming to feel that they themselves are active and effective by identifying with charasmatic leaders. These leaders can't bring about their liberation for them. (65)

LIBERTARIAN, OR CO-INTENTIONAL EDUCATION. Teachers and students are simultaneously both teachers and learners. They learn from each other and help each other learn. (59) "Teachers and students (leadership and people). . . are both subjects. . . in the task of unveiling that reality,. . . but in the task of recreating that knowledge. . . through common reflection and action." They become its permanent re-creators. This is committed involvement, not pseudo-participation. Students discover that reality is a process that undergoes constant transformation. (56) This requires abandoning the deposit-making model and replacing it with posing the problems of human beings in their relations with the world.(66)

STUDENTS AND TEACHERS. Through dialogue a new terms emerges--teacher student with students-teachers. The students, while being taught, also teach. "They become jointly responsible for a process in which all grow." Here "arguments based on "authority" are no longer valid [and] authority must be on the side of freedom, no against it.. . . No one teachers another, nor is anyone self taught." We teach each other, mediated by the world. (67)

PROBLEM-POSING EDUCATION. "The educator constantly re-forms his reflections in the reflections of the students [who] are now critical co-investigators in dialogue with the teacher. . . . Problem-posing education involves a constant unveiling of reality, the emergence of consciousness, and critical intervention in reality." (68) This is education as the practice of freedom rather than the practice of domination. It de-mythologizes and takes character of our present historical society and culture as a starting point. (69)

BECOMING. Problem-posing education affirms us as beings in the process of becoming. We are unfinished, and so is our reality, and we affect the world around us through our conscious transformations of it and of our consciousness of it. (72) Problem-posing education presents the banking method of education as a problem, and our situation as a historical reality that can be transformed. "Resignation gives way to the drive for transformation and inquiry."(73)

INQUIRY AND VIOLENCE. To alienate people from their own decision-making is to change them into objects. Any situation where some prevent others from engaging in inquiry is a form of violence. (73)