My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Oppression still exists today. While a lot has changed over the course of history, we have by no means reached true equality. Oppression exists in many ways still; however, perhaps the most damaging and prevalent form of oppression in America today is in our educational system.
The book Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire explores the relationship between the oppressed and the oppressor and how we can overcome this relationship through dialogue, action, and most importantly, education.
Freire discusses the necessity of the oppressed to liberate themselves, in the sense that they must look at their world and their circumstance critically in order to change it, which Freire seems to suggest is harder than it sounds. The oppressed must understand who they are as people and what they are being denied of from their oppressors. In the book he claims, “… Without a sense of identity, there can be no real struggle…” This, then is the central problem the book addresses. How do they come to understand their circumstance and begin to change it in an educational system that denies their inequality, but actively works to both oppress them while at the same time leads them to believe that they are not oppressed?
Freire also discusses the importance of the oppressors in the process of liberating the oppressed. He explains that the process of liberation is never fully achieved by the oppressed defeating or conquering their oppressors, but that it rather perpetuates the cycle of oppression. Instead he proposes that true liberation is achieved through the tireless, and continual work of the oppressed and oppressors working together to become equal.
I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who is critically engaged with the world around them. This book can be hard to read, but when the reader is actively engaged in its content and truly interested in the problem and finding a solution, there is no better book to read regarding education. This book is a necessary read for anyone who wants to create change in our world, because as Freire claims in the book, “to affirm that men and women are persons and as persons should be free, and yet to do nothing tangible to make this affirmation a reality, is a farce.” ~ Student: Ryan T.