Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Going over the review of this famous book by The Brazilian educator Paulo Freire created a sense of Déjà vu for me. The book which was first published in 1968 in Portuguese questions the basic paradigms of education with its top-down approach where the students are inducted into the system of learning through an oppressive top-down approach which expected students to acquire their expertise in one only domain such as Maths or sciences or Humanities. 

The book which is remarkably left-wing in its ideology seems much relevant to our context even today where education seems synonymous with learning by rote and little attempt is made to tap into the latent talent of the student. The current method of education which is borne out of the needs of the industrial society is classroom driven leaving little room for dialogue, debate, or discourse to challenge the innermost recesses of a student’s mind. The straitjacket of syllabus detailed according to the flow of the economy of western nations leaves great skills and cultural gaps in the students.

The voices of the dissent or from streams below go unheard in the current system of education which is grappling with even greater challenges under the current pandemic situation. The burden of standardization for catering to global markets seems to only widen the chasm in our education systems. Little attention gets paid to the holistic development of a student, though a lot of lip service is there for a more inclusive approach towards education still it is a far cry from the desired effects.

The current pandemic situation that halted all the normal operations of public life can be an ideal time for us to look more deeply into probable democratic models of education which can integrate the voices from below and gradually overcome the oppression of watertight compartments of subjects and strait-jackets of syllabus and degrees. 

The ideas criticized in this book about the nature of education being a top-down approach have worked well to create the levels of mass education that we witness currently in the world, yet we have reached a stalemate in terms of the achievement of the outcomes for the entire human populace since the focus still continues to be mastery of a single subject and absence of the voices of the marginalized people.