Paulo Freire was a Brazilian educator who believed that education should be a tool for social change. He developed his pedagogy of the oppressed, which he called liberatory education, to empower students to become agents of their own liberation. Paulo Freire (1921–1997) was born in Brazil into a poor family. His father died when he was young, leaving him to care for his mother and siblings. He went to school at age 11, where he learned to read and write Portuguese. In 1944, he graduated from high school and entered college. After graduating from university in 1948, he began teaching English in public schools. He became interested in the problems faced by children growing up in poverty and decided to focus on helping them develop critical thinking skills. Freire believed that the only way to truly educate someone is to engage them in dialogue. This means that teachers must listen carefully to their students and try to understand their experiences. They must also take time to reflect on their own beliefs and values to better understand the perspectives of those they teach.
Why and Where it was Banned
Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire’s highly influential book outlining the idea of empowering those with sociopolitical disadvantages, is completely banned in two states: the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. The United Arab Emirates’ government expressed a desire to ban the book because it “crosses red lines” for them, as it questions their stance on women’s rights. The country stresses that they are not at war with any religious group but only wants to tighten already controversial policies against the radicalization of Islam and extremism. In Saudi Arabia, Pedagogy of the Oppressed is banned because it discusses many issues considered too sensitive to be addressed by Saudis, even though they have more than a billion people living there. It has been banned in places of education worldwide, including Brazil, Chile, Haiti, China, and Venezuela. In Brazil, Pedagogy of the Oppressed was banned because some people (mainly Marxists) thought it had links to Marxism. Others believed Freire’s teachings were too democratic and wanted to replace them with more authoritarian methods. The Pedagogy of the Oppressed was banned in countries that practiced authoritarianism, especially Marxism countries. In Brazil, the book was banned for two reasons: Firstly, the book held a view that “education is an instrument of oppression,” and thus, those who were opposed to the Pedagogy of the Oppressed believed that it would only serve to antagonize students even further. Secondly, main Marxists thought the Pedagogy of the Oppressed was counter-revolutionary and freedom-destroying. Marxists believed that the ideas in the book would allow students to be critical of their societies. According to Marxists, this is a bad thing because it would lead to “more discontent and fewer revolutionaries.” Thus, the banning was meant to protect both communist power and public order.
Additionally, some consider the Pedagogy of the Oppressed a tool for liberation and justice, while others consider it oppressive. For example, some conservative Catholics view Freire as “Marxist” while others view him as an expert on Christian Liberation Theology. The Idea challenges western powers of their perspectives from a radical leftist standpoint which aims to revolutionize the way of thinking for those in Western nations. The book shows how one should put the concerns of the people first and put an end to the oppression that has been inflicted on an individual. The line states: “A good revolutionary must be a man who is good” by Pedro Canelas. The quote ends with, “Where there is domination, there are dominated, and where there are masters, there are those who serve.” And that to serve nobly means to submit humbly as a conscientious objector.” which has been understood as saying, “those serving deserve to be treated well because they are serving their country (the government) or cause (a revolution). The book has also been banned because it is strongly seen as propagating terrorism or hatred towards Islam. The “good revolutionary” section ends with a quote that says, “no one should be jealous of another’s good fortune. Each person, by his or her own individual effort, should work to improve his own lot in life and to serve the cause and the people (Freire,2013).” And this is what many people see as contradicting their beliefs which are not influenced by religion.
The Impacts of Banning Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed to Students and other People.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed was a sensation among educators. His work, which synthesized Marxist sociology and critical theory with an educational model rooted in existentialist thought, became a popular tool for teaching literacy as well as critiquing oppression. However, Freire’s work quickly attracted strong criticism from individuals who claimed that it had dangerous Marxist undertones. Teaching is inherently political (Freire,2013). Freire was a powerful voice for the powerless. His classroom activism and involvement with poor communities gave him unparalleled insights into what works best for students. One of the impacts of banning Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed is that the students are not taught critical thinking skills that would help them thrive in society. This leads to social inequality, which then perpetuates cycles of Poverty-Stricken Communities. As A Result of This Unequal Power Balance, the youth who go through this social inequality have fewer opportunities to succeed than those who do not. Additionally, as a result of the ban, the idea that education can be used to bring about social change has had little effect in regions around the world. Lastly, the ban leads to a reduction of educators attempting to implement elements of Paulo Freire’s ideas into their teaching strategies.
Paulo Freire developed a pedagogy in which students learn best by actively struggling against oppression. His idea of the “pedagogy of the oppressed” was revolutionary and led to a major shift in education. The key to Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed is that it places the student in a position of cultural and intellectual power over her or his own education by encouraging dialogue rather than authority. Teachers are a resource for support and guidance, not authorities who must be followed unquestioningly (Freire,2013). This modernist pedagogy requires students to critically analyze their society and engage with their peers, which is why it has been banned in many.
Freire, P. (2013). Pedagogy of the oppressed (pp. 131-139). Routledge.