An often quoted and spoken about text, Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed is a fascinating read. Often criticized for the “severity” of the language within, the text however captures the potential for alienation in current school systems. There was a very deliberate choice made when Freire used the word “Oppressed” as opposed to less politically charged terms like “marginalized.” His book looks at the power involved in education and those who don’t in fact have it. Below are some quotes as well as the text with annotations and notes. This is a book that takes several reads to unpack and one I will be revisiting for the second time once my other reading commitments let up.


In order to understand the meaning of dialogical practice, we have to put aside the simplistic understanding of dialogue as a mere technique. Dialogue does not represent a somewhat false path that I attempt to elaborate on and realize in the sense of involving the ingenuity of the other. On the contrary, dialogue characterizes an epistemological relationship. Thus, in this sense, dialogue is a way of knowing and should never be viewed as a mere tactic to involve students in a particular task. We have to make this point very clear. I engage in dialogue not necessarily because I like the other person. I engage in dialogue because I recognize the social and not merely the individualistic character of the process of knowing. In this sense, dialogue presents itself as an indispensable component of the process of both learning and knowing. p. 17

If we were to deconstruct the term “ethnic cleansing” we would see that it prevents us from becoming horrified by Serbian brutality and horrendous crimes against Bosnian Muslims. The mass killing of women, children, and the elderly and the rape of women and girls as young as five years old take on the positive at- tribute of “cleansing,” which leads us to conjure a reality of “purifi- cation” of the ethnic “filth” ascribed to Bosnian Muslims, in particular, and to Muslims the world over, in general. p. 21 (This is precisly how I feel when the term “honour killing” is evoked)

the oppressed must not, in seeking to regain their humanity (which is a way to create it), become in turn oppressors of the oppressors, but rather restorers of the humanity of both. p. 44

Attempting to liberate the oppressed without their reflective participation in the act of liberation is to treat them as objects which must be saved from a burning building; it is to lead them into the populist pitfall and transform them into masses which can be manipulated. p. 65

Any situation in which some indi- viduals prevent others from engaging in the process of inquiry is one of violence. The means used are not important; to alienate human beings from their own decision-making is to change them into objects. p. 85

Within the word we find two dimensions, reflection and action, in such radical interaction that if one is sac- rificed—even in part—the other immediately suffers. There is no true word that is not at the same time a praxis.1 Thus, to speak a true word is to transform the world. p. 87


Paulo Freire – Pedagogy of the Oppressed (AF w. Notes) 

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Alim Fakirani