Posted in Writing Theory & Practice

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

When jumping into this article, I was just mind blown of what I was about dive deep into… But first, I would like you to take the time out to listen to one of my favorite revolutionary artist Jermaine Cole, better know as J. Cole. **Click on link under his picture***. After reading this article, I was moved to come back to one of his older songs, High 4 Hours, recorded in 2017. Please do not be fooled by the title of the song, but be moved by meanings in his lyrics. I am telling you, he is truly an amazing, poetic, and well spoken artist!

I am going to be complete honest, I was a little confused and intimidated when I first began to read this article. There were a lot of powerful words being thrown around and I did not know exactly how to place them (that truly made me nervous). As I went to read through it again, I was able to make connection as to what Freire wanted me to take away from this reading. I was then able to connect the J. Cole song to his words and it all made since! As I said before, I am still trying to gain the true grasp of this reading, so I decided to take another pace on how to approach this article. So with further a due, lets dissect this!

“This, then, is the great humanistic and historical task of the oppressed: to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well (Freier)”

When reading this statement, I could not help but think of another inspirational speaker; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Like many of us know, he was the voice (this word voice is always there) for one the most know pacifistic movements. He believed that we should not over throw and hate our oppressor, but help free not just us but themselves from their own darkness.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” — Martin Luther King, Jr. With this quote, this verse from J. Cole’s song High 4 Hours says something just as similar to Dr. King

“Look at the power, but you know what power does to man
Corruption always leads us to the same shit again
So when you talk about revolution dawg, I hear just what you saying What good is taking over, when we know what you gon’ do
The only real revolution happens right inside of you (J. Cole 2017).”

The next statement that I found interesting to look deeper into is the following: “But almost always, during the initial stage of the struggle, the oppressed, instead of striving for liberation, tend themselves to become oppressors, or ‘sub-oppressors’.”

When reading this statement, I could not helped but be reminded by the constantly oppressed ethnicity I just so happened to belong, African American. Fun fact, during my undergrad studies as an English major, the majority of my education was based on identity and finding out more about my people. I was fully aware of the slavery and racism that most blacks faced in the United States, but until I got to college, I was oblivious to what underlining impact issues that they faced. The statement above took me back to look at some of my old academic writing that ties into a snippet of what this article is trying to convey.

“Another form of this racism that appeared in the book was not towards Jacobs herself, but towards the other slaves around her. “I admit that the black man is inferior. But what is it that makes him so? It is the ignorance in which white men compel him to live; it is the torturing whip that lashes manhood out of him; it is the fierce bloodhounds of the South, and the scarcely less cruel human bloodhounds of the north, who enforce the Fugitive Slave Law. They do the work (Jacobs p. 49).” When a person is put in fear that if they are willing to learn then they are willing to die he will want to stay ignorant in order to live. Commonly known through history, it was forbidden for any slave to learn how to read or write. Such acts of trying to educate themselves left options of being whipped, being sold off, or being killed. This “peculiar institution” left slaves naturally feeling as though they were born to be less capable than the white man, leaving them ignorant, and the white man with more power (Patricia Dennis 2017). “

I found this next statement very interesting because it makes the oppressed take a step back from themselves and their actions towards each other. When oppressed people feel compelled to keep their thought, anger, feeling, and all other factors towards their own kind; how can they ever feel truly empowered to face those who made them this way?” When I look at this quote, it reminds me of the African American Theory I studied as an undergrad. The African American theory address many aspects as to what makes it a theory; one aspect I vividly remember was internal racism. From as far as slavery, all the way to present time, this is still an issue with most people of color. Instead trying to crawl out of the barrel, we look as to why we need to keep others in the barrel down. Instead of fighting the hate outside, many fail to face their own inner issues caused be oppressor.

To end off this article, I would like to leave this quote from the text to thing about:

“If the goal of the oppressed is to become fully human, they will not achieve their goal by merely reversing the terms of the contradiction, by simply changing poles.”

The Silenced Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other People’s Children

This article really was a great follow up read to the first article in my blog. The best part about this article is that I was able to put myself within, as being both a student and educator of color. It was very hard to NOT want to write about everything in this article, so I was able to break it down to six quotes/points I found most interesting.

“My charge here is not to determine the best instructed methodology; I believe that the actual practice of good teachers of all colors typically incorporates a range of pedagogical orientations.”

Wow! This statement has so much truth behind it! No good teachers sticks to one approach when teaching any student. With each school year, there are new set of students, and with each new set of students, the are different strutted minds to teach. With that, a particular methodology is always the best but the amount of effort educators put into finding different and exciting ways to engage ALL students. I wish many of my primary teachers would have taken a gander at this article! I also want you to remember the above statement later down the line throughout the discussion topics in my post.

The culture of power

This snippet of the article kind of breaks down the forms of power and how it plays a role in education. I found the first three points more suited towards the classrooms.

  • (1)Issues of power are enacted in classrooms.
    • Power of teacher over students. Teachers ultimately choose the learning.
  • (2) There are codes or rules for participating in power
    • Linguistic forms, communicative strategies, and presentation self.
  • (3) The rules of the culture of power are are a reflection of the rules of the culture of those who have power
    • The success in institutions – schools, workplaces, and etc – is predicated upon acquisition of the culture of those in power

Tying my experience into the mix is that above points are true. The culture of power is something that is established in certain classrooms, with certain teachers, in certain circumstances. For example, being educated in Newark was not the most greatest places to get a decent education, but I was fortunate. The primary school I went to had teachers that looked just like me and was able to take grab of that power of culture and shape it into something to help the school grows. But that was not the case for many other schools in Newark.

“Many liberal educators hold that the primary goal for education is for children to become autonomous, to develop fully who they are in the classroom setting without having arbitrary, outside standards forced upon them.”

Is that what we all as educators want for our students? Not only do students have normal academic pressure on their back, but even more standards thrown on them. SAT, ACT, NJ ASK, HESPA.. these are just a few outside standard test I had to face as a high school student, I can’t imagine what the standards are now. These rules and standards are set on these students to become something other themselves. Speaking for the perspective of colored student, we were told to leave our “ghetto ways” at the door to get into academic formation. What does that even mean? Do I need to put on cape on intellect to fit the personality of education atmosphere?

“They (Black parents) want to assurance that school provides their children with discourse patterns, interaction styles, and written language codes that will allow them success in the real world.”

12 hours shifts, 4 hours of sleep, making ends meet… just so that their child can receive an education that will help them survive and hopefully thrive in society. The first person I thought of in this statement is my mom. The person I just described in the beginning of this passage is my mother. While writing this post, I was on the phone with my boyfriend describing to him how I do not really remember my mom staying home a lot or seeing her as often as I do now. Looking back at it now, I get it. She worked so hard so that I can have better opportunities in this world that will judge my knowledge off the color of my school. Though she could not always be at the PTA or parent conference meetings, she prayed that my teachers would see fit that my mind did not go to waste. That’s what any parent would hope for their child.

“The dilemma is not really in the debate over instructional methodology. but rather in communicating across cultures and in addressing the more fundamental issue of power, of whose voice gets to be heard in determining what is best for poor children and children of color.”

Coincidentally enough, that above statement (which is close to the end of the article) sounds a lot like the first statement in talked about in this article. But instead of focusing on the teaching approach itself, it concentrates more on the voice and understating for the students. Food for thought I wanted to leave behind in this post.


Educator|Mentor|Artist|Aspiring Traveler|Student "Make a difference about something other than yourself." - Toni Morrison "Be the person you needed growing up."

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