Paolo Frieri’s 1968 work Pedagogy of the Oppressed is a comprehensive Marxist class analysis of the relationship between the oppressor and the oppressed, and while written nearly half a century ago in the context of poor and illiterate Brazilians, this dynamic is perhaps just as relevant today in the industrialized West. Frieri was particularly interested in the close affinity between education and liberation from oppression, but understood that certain educational philosophies lead to liberation’s dichotomous sibling – the upholding, and even strengthening, of the social institutions causing oppression. These ideas provide valuable insight into the ramifications of the growing expectation for all American students to attend college and explain how that very expectation may be eroding the foundational principles of higher education.
The intellectual and scientific Enlightenment of the eighteenth century produced two images conceptualizing what should be the proper approach to education; one was the student as an empty vessel which is “filled” by the teacher, the other as a seed, nourished and assisted in growing, but ultimately becoming its own unique flower. Frieri describes in great detail these two approaches as the “banking” model and as the “problem-posing" model. In the “banking” model, Frieri explains that “education becomes an act of depositing” where the teacher deposits information and the students “patiently receive, memorize, and repeat” (Frieri, 72). This model serves the oppressor by prescribing in the oppressed a false consciousness (ideas, attitudes, etc.) – the consciousness of the oppressor himself – further cementing the oppressor-oppressed dichotomy. Another word that concisely describes this approach to e...
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...Noam. “Noam Chomsky on Higher Education”. Genprogress.org. Samantha Schuyler, November 13, 2013. Web. March 3rd, 2014.
Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Herder and Herder, 1970. Print.
Giroux, Henry. "Higher Education Under Attack: An Interview With Henry A. Giroux." Interview by C. C. Johannsen. Truthout. Truth-out.org, 22 Apr. 2011. Web. 03 Mar. 2014.
Gregg, Allan. "Henry Giroux On The Corporatization Of American Education." YouTube. Allan Gregg In Conversation, 30 Aug. 2012. Web. 03 Mar. 2014.
"State by State Data." Project on Student Debt:. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2014.
Tobbell, Jane. "The Oppressive Curriculum: Viewing the National Curriculum through the Freirean Lens." Annual Review of Critical Psychology 2 (2000): 204-05. Web.
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