***** (of 5)

The bottom line: Read this book and free your mind.


Few books deliver a message so powerful that it forever becomes embedded in the reader’s mind. Even fewer books transform the way you perceive, interact with, or respond to, reality. Pedagogy of the Oppressed masterfully accomplishes both tasks and inspires you to spread the word to others.

In short, the purpose of this book is summarized on the last page: “This work deals with a very obvious truth: just as the oppressor, in order to oppress, needs a theory of oppressive action, so the oppressed, in order to become free, also need a theory of action.”

Freire goes on to elaborate by arguing that the disposition of the oppressed is a direct function of a system, designed and engineered on many different levels, to keep the oppressed in their current predicament as a means to fuel a perverse scheme that is predicated on a majority remaining ignorant of its methodology. The prescription to change this system must come from the oppressed and not the oppressors, as the author posits, through a dialogical process of education. This is based upon mutual investigation, a shared, exploratory means of discovery, and the abandonment of a system of education based on the “banking principal.” Freire strives for everyone to gain a new understanding of the world and reality so that all can take a step back to understand the dynamics at play; only then can one develop a new awareness that will equip them to break the cycle and achieve true liberation.

The text proceeds as follows: It starts by defining the oppressor-oppressed relationship, characterized by dehumanizers who employ several mechanisms to subjugate the dehumanized. Next, the blueprint for a liberation plan is described with a particular emphasis on the educational system. The last chapter starts by providing a summary of what has been stated thus far, describes specific tactics used to oppress, and then details the liberation praxis.

The strength of this book lies in its ability to dare the reader to challenge his or her own assumptions and perceptions about the world and view reality through a different lens. Although Freire describes liberation praxis primarily through education, the groundwork is already established for more far-reaching methodologies.

Keep in mind that Freire does not seem to have an agenda based on one group in particular, but instead has a universal outlook for humanity in general. He repeatedly emphasizes a breaking free not so that one may overtake the other, but rather to permanently abolish the forces that established a class of people in bondage in the first place.

For anyone who believes that as human beings we can do better, and that learning and knowledge should be a transformative process, this book should be in your library.


Dr. C. H. E. Sadaphal

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