Pedagogy of the Oppressed

by

Paulo Freire

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Paulo Freire Character Analysis

Paulo Freire is a 20th-century educator and educational theorist, and the author of Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Freire’s work with the Brazilian government figures heavily into his writing, as he formed much of his theory of education while attempting to fight high rates of illiteracy among poor Brazilians. Throughout his work, he also connects radical changes in the education system with radical changes in the political structure at large—both, he argues, are necessary to make people more free.

Paulo Freire Quotes in Pedagogy of the Oppressed

The Pedagogy of the Oppressed quotes below are all either spoken by Paulo Freire or refer to Paulo Freire. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Freedom and Oppression Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Bloomsbury edition of Pedagogy of the Oppressed published in 2000.
Preface Quotes

Thought and study alone did not produce Pedagogy of the Oppressed; it is rooted in concrete situations and describes the reactions of laborers (peasant or urban) and of middle-class persons whom I have observed directly or indirectly during the course of my educative work.

Related Characters: Paulo Freire (speaker)
Related Symbols: Banking
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:

This volume will probably arouse negative reactions in a number of readers. Some will regard my position vis-à-vis the problem of human liberation as purely idealistic… Others will not (or will not wish to) accept my denunciation of a state of oppression that gratifies the oppressors. Accordingly, this admittedly tentative work is for radicals.

Related Characters: Paulo Freire (speaker), The Oppressor
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 1 Quotes

…The more radical the person is, the more fully he or she enters into reality so that, knowing it better, he or she can better transform it. This individual is not afraid to confront, to listen, to see the world unveiled. This person is not afraid to meet the people or to enter into dialogue with them. This person does not consider himself or herself…the liberator of the oppressed; but he or she does commit himself or herself, within history, to fight at their side.

Related Characters: Paulo Freire (speaker), The Oppressed
Page Number: 39
Explanation and Analysis:

While the problem of humanization has always, from an axiological point of view, been humankind’s central problem, it now takes on the character of an inescapable concern.

Related Characters: Paulo Freire (speaker), The Oppressed
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

This, then, is the great humanistic and historical task of the oppressed: to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well. The oppressors, who oppress, exploit, and rape by virtue of their power, cannot find in this power the strength to liberate either the oppressed or themselves.

Related Characters: Paulo Freire (speaker), The Oppressor, The Oppressed
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:

Freedom is acquired by conquest, not by gift. It must be pursued constantly and responsibly. Freedom is not an ideal located outside of man; nor is it an idea which becomes a myth. It is rather the indispensible condition for the quest for human completion.

Related Characters: Paulo Freire (speaker), The Oppressed
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:

Liberation is thus a childbirth, and a painful one. The man or woman who emerges is a new person, viable only as the oppressor-oppressed contradiction is superseded by the humanization of all people. Or to put it another way, the solution of this contradiction is born in the labor which brings into the world this new being: no longer oppressor, no longer oppressed, but human in the process of achieving freedom.

Related Characters: Paulo Freire (speaker), The Oppressor, The Oppressed
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:

Any situation in which “A” objectively exploits “B” or hinders his and her pursuit of self-affirmation as a responsible person is one of oppression. Such a situation in itself constitutes violence, even when sweetened by false generosity, because it interferes with the individual’s ontological and historical vocation to be more fully human.

Related Characters: Paulo Freire (speaker), The Oppressor, The Oppressed
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

For apart from inquiry, apart from the praxis, individuals cannot be truly human. Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.

Related Characters: Paulo Freire (speaker)
Related Symbols: Banking
Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:

Indeed, the interests of the oppressors lie in “changing the consciousness of the oppressed, not the situation which oppresses them”; for the more the oppressed can be led to adapt to that situation, the more easily they can be dominated.

Related Characters: Paulo Freire (speaker), The Oppressor, The Oppressed
Related Symbols: Banking
Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:

Implicit in the banking concept is the assumption of a dichotomy between human beings and the world: a person is merely in the world, not with the world or with others…In this view, the person is not a conscious being (corpo consciente); he or she is rather the possessor of a consciousness: an empty “mind” passively open to the reception of deposits of reality from the world outside.

Related Characters: Paulo Freire (speaker)
Related Symbols: Banking
Page Number: 75
Explanation and Analysis:

Those truly committed to liberation must reject the banking concept in its entirety, adopting instead a concept of women and men as conscious beings, and consciousness as consciousness intent upon the world. They must abandon the educational goal of deposit-making and replace it with the posing of the problems of human beings in their relations with the world.

Related Characters: Paulo Freire (speaker)
Related Symbols: Banking
Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:

Problem-posing education does not and cannot serve the interests of the oppressor. No oppressive order could permit the oppressed to begin to question: Why?

Related Characters: Paulo Freire (speaker), The Oppressor, The Oppressed
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

To exist, humanly, is to name the world, to change it. Once named, the world in its turn reappears to the namers as a problem and requires of them a new naming. Human beings are not built in silence, but in word, in work, in action-reflection.

Related Characters: Paulo Freire (speaker)
Page Number: 88
Explanation and Analysis:

One cannot expect positive results from an educational or political action program which fails to respect the particular view of the world held by the people. Such a program constitutes cultural invasion, good intentions notwithstanding.

Related Characters: Paulo Freire (speaker), The Oppressed
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:

The starting point for organizing the program content of education or political action must be the present, existential, concrete situation, reflecting the aspirations of the people. Utilizing certain basic contradictions, we must pose this existential, concrete, present situation to the people as a problem which challenges them and requires a response…

Related Characters: Paulo Freire (speaker), The Oppressed
Page Number: 95-96
Explanation and Analysis:

[Themes] imply others which are opposing or even antithetical; they also indicate tasks to be carried out and fulfilled. Thus, historical themes are never isolated, independent, disconnected, or static; they are always interacting dialectically with their opposites.

Related Characters: Paulo Freire (speaker)
Page Number: 101
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

The revolution is made neither by the leaders for the people, nor by the people for the leaders, but by both acting together in unshakable solidarity. This solidarity is born only when the leaders witness to it by their humble, loving, and courageous encounter with the people.

Related Characters: Paulo Freire (speaker), The Oppressed
Page Number: 129
Explanation and Analysis:

Prior to the emergence of the people there is no manipulation (precisely speaking), but rather total suppression. When the oppressed are almost completely submerged in reality, it is unnecessary to manipulate them. In the antidialogical theory of action, manipulation is the response of the oppressor to the new concrete conditions of the historical process.

Related Characters: Paulo Freire (speaker), The Oppressor, The Oppressed
Page Number: 148
Explanation and Analysis:

In cultural invasion it is essential that those who are invaded come to see their reality with the outlook of the invaders rather than their own; for the more they mimic the invaders, the more stable the position of the latter becomes.

Related Characters: Paulo Freire (speaker), The Oppressor, The Oppressed
Page Number: 153
Explanation and Analysis:

The role of revolutionary leadership…is to consider seriously, even as they act, the reasons for any attitude of mistrust on the part of the people, and to seek out true avenues of communion with them, ways of helping the people to help themselves critically perceive the reality which oppresses them.

Related Characters: Paulo Freire (speaker), The Oppressed
Page Number: 166
Explanation and Analysis:

...Organization requires authority, so it cannot be authoritarian; it requires freedom, so it cannot be licentious. Organization is, rather, a highly educational process in which leaders and people together experience true authority and freedom, which they then seek to establish in society by transforming the society which mediates them.

Related Characters: Paulo Freire (speaker), The Oppressed
Page Number: 178-79
Explanation and Analysis:
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Paulo Freire Character Timeline in Pedagogy of the Oppressed

The timeline below shows where the character Paulo Freire appears in Pedagogy of the Oppressed. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Preface
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Freire begins by noting that Pedagogy of the Oppressed is based on observations from his education... (full context)
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Freire argues that conscientização is not “destructive”—it helps people strive for self-affirmation and allows them to... (full context)
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Freire then addresses potential criticisms of his work: his focus on liberation and oppression could be... (full context)
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Sectarians, according to Freire, distort or misinterpret the natural logic of the world. He claims that right-wing sectarians seek... (full context)
Chapter 1
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At the start of the chapter, Freire introduces what he calls “humankind’s central problem”: the problem of “humanization” (the natural human drive... (full context)
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Any movement to defeat oppression, according to Freire, has to be led by oppressed people. Oppressed people have the most experience with oppression’s... (full context)
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...people also have to confront their internalized beliefs and ideas that hinder their freedom. For Freire, this becomes the role of a “pedagogy of the oppressed”: to help the oppressed critically... (full context)
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The results of liberation should be twofold (and, to Freire, dialectical): there should be an objective change in how society works, and a subjective change... (full context)
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A pedagogy of the oppressed, for Freire, is designed to help people regain their humanity. A pedagogy led by oppressors, like traditional... (full context)
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A key part of the first stage of Freire’s pedagogy involves understanding the consciousnesses of oppressors and oppressed people, and especially the inner conflicts... (full context)
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Freire then examines the oppressor consciousness in greater detail. More than anything, oppressors prioritize “their right... (full context)
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...people think, in order to see where the oppressive system affects their perspective. For example, Freire suggests that oppressed people sometimes take on a “fatalistic” view towards their circumstances, because they... (full context)
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According to Freire, oppressed people can begin to gain confidence and conviction when they learn about the causes... (full context)
Chapter 2
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Freire begins Chapter 2 by describing the characteristics of a traditional Western classroom. He focuses on... (full context)
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Knowledge, for Freire, is the result of a constant process of questioning the world. However, the “banking” model... (full context)
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...helps  oppressors, who want to prevent oppressed people from understanding the true nature of oppression. Freire argues that oppressors combine “banking” education with institutions like welfare, which treats oppressed people as... (full context)
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...they are aware of it or not—do not understand that the model reinforces oppression. But Freire notes that some students may begin to understand that their education is in conflict with... (full context)
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...teachers use in the “banking” model create distance between them and their students. In contrast, Freire argues for authentic communication in the classroom: teachers cannot impose their ideas on students, but... (full context)
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...and passive students, the “problem-posing” model makes both groups into “co-investigators” who question reality together. Freire argues that the “problem-posing” model pushes students to gain critical awareness, because it uses topics... (full context)
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...is designed to foster freedom, it treats human beings and the world as intimately connected. Freire supplies the example of a peasant student in a Chilean class, who argued that human... (full context)
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...from the lack of change in the “banking” model. “Problem-posing” is “revolutionary futurity,” according to Freire, because it relies on the hope that oppression is changeable and can be defeated in... (full context)
Chapter 3
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At the start of Chapter 3, Freire continues his discussion of dialogue from the previous chapter. He asserts that dialogue primarily consists... (full context)
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According to Freire, dialogue is an act of radical love “for the world and for people,” because it... (full context)
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Lastly, dialogue cannot exist without hope and critical thinking. To Freire, hope comes from human beings’ constant drive to complete themselves, and critical thinking comes from... (full context)
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...class must also use language that is clear and relatable to its participants. From here, Freire switches gears to discuss the subject matter of a “problem-posing” classroom: he says that it... (full context)
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...to the world, they understand that they are limited by their concrete experiences in the world—Freire calls these “limit-situations.” Limit-situations are a product of history, which means that they are not... (full context)
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...oppressors see the freedom of oppressed people as a limit to their power. According to Freire, the main themes of our historical moment are domination and liberation; the limit-situations are the... (full context)
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...a whole and in terms of its parts. One way this happens is through “decoding”: Freire creates a specific process through which educators can make “themes” more visible to their students... (full context)
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...who identify an area to work in and begin to observe it and its residents. Freire uses the example of an adult education class “in a peasant area with a high... (full context)
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...educators must allow the peasants to speak freely about how the situations make them feel. Freire uses the example of a “codification” about alcoholism—while the educator might see it as automatically... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Freire spends the final chapter discussing his theory of cultural action, or how people create changes... (full context)
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...people internalize these myths, and cannot have authentic dialogue about the true nature of reality. Freire then emphasizes again that any oppressive situation is opposed to dialogue. (full context)
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...creates rifts among different groups of oppressed people and discourages them from dialogue. One example Freire uses is community development projects that separate local communities from each other—when communities cannot see... (full context)
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...To combat it, revolutionary leaders should use critical awareness to constantly question the oppressors’ authority. Freire contrasts revolutionary leaders with populist leaders, who claim to be an intermediary between the oppressed... (full context)
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...This pushes oppressed people to become more like the oppressors, and stabilizes the oppressors’ position. Freire argues that cultural invasion is both a tool and a result of oppression, and that... (full context)
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Cooperation. From here, Freire discusses “dialogical action,” which is what revolutionary leaders should use to attack the oppressors’ antidialogical... (full context)
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...liberation, and show that they are acting out of love  and faith in the oppressed. Freire points out that oppressors do organize themselves apart from the people, which is why revolutionary... (full context)
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Cultural Synthesis. Lastly, cultural synthesis is the opposite of cultural invasion. Freire says that all cultural action either attempts to preserve or change society; when it includes... (full context)