Who is Paulo Freire?

Born in Brazil in 1921, Paulo Freire is a Brazilian Educationist with a profound commitment to progressive education. In 1964, Freire was exiled from his home country of Brazil in a military coup and found his way to Chile and then the United States where he continued to work on his "Pedagogy of the Oppressed". In 1988 due to a political amnesty, he was able to return to Brazil where he died in 1997 of a heart attack. Because of his childhood living in a poor family, Freire had a strong commitment to the urban poor. He had a passion to empower the oppressed urban poor and increase literacy among these people. This all led to his most famous literary work, "Pedagogy of the Oppressed", which points out the importance that the oppressed first become aware of their oppression, and then take action to change that state. By gaining an education, the oppressed become informed and have the ability to change their cultural state. Freire died in 1997 after a long life committed to liberating the oppressed.

What is the "Pedagogy of the Oppressed"?

Freire's most notable and famous work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed is an educational literary work that brings to light the Oppressors versus the Oppressed within a society. It is here that he says two things must happen in order for the oppressed to break free from their oppressors. First, the oppressed must become aware and acknowledge the fact that they are oppressed. Second, the opppressed must do something about their state so as to change their cultural state within their society. This can be done through education.

In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freire stresses the importance of dialogue among pupil and teacher. He also discusses how he opposes the "banking method" a term he coined for the type of education in which pupils are empty vessels and their teachers "pour" knowledge into them. Freire believes education should involve a co-creation of knowledge where the students and teachers both participate in learning, asking questions, and reflecting together. Freire also believed it was the job of the educator to go out into the community and understand the culture with which his or her students come from. Through all of this, Freire pushes individuals to form a Critical Consciousness which involves questioning the nature of their personal social situation.

Critiques of Freire's...

Many of Freire's critiques find flaws within his educational theories and the way he argues. For instance, many have pointed out that he argues in an either/or way. You are either for the oppressed or against them, but people point out that this should vary from situation to situation.They also point out that although he discusses informal education involving dialogue, his critics say much of his observations occured in formal and structured educationalized settings. Lastly, they claim Freire's educational suggestions may lie too closely to the "banking method" he so highly despises because of the ability to hint ideas and values to students during dialogue.

Work Cited

"About Pedagogy of the Oppressed." Continuum. Web. 16 May 2011. http://www.pedagogyoftheoppressed.com.
"Paulo Freire: A Critical Encounter." National-Lous University. National-Louis University, 2005. Web. 17 May 2011. http://nlu.nl.edu/.
Parkins, Keith. "Paulo Freire." Paulo Freire. 2003. Web. 17 May 2011. http://www.heureka.clara.net.
Smith, Mark K. "Paulo Freire and Informal Education." Paulo Freire and Informal Education. Infed, 1997. Web. 16 May 2011. <infed.org>.