In the 1970's, Paulo Freire wrote on of the most significant educational texts of contemprory times. Pedagogy of the Oppressed, questions the underlying factors of educational systems that allow oppression, in any form it may be, to continue. He illustrates how oppressed groups are fed, through their education, a justification of oppression, to the extent that the oppressed start seeing the image of "freedom from oppression" in the image of their oppressors. Freire goes on to criticise the existing approaches in the educational systems accross the globe, which emphasise the role of the teacher and not that of the students in the process of developing their conciousness of the world, a theme discussed on a larger scale by Michel Foucault in his "Archeology of Knowledge".
What interests me here is the first theme, the personification of freedom in the image of the oppressor. An act that is so deeply rooted in our concious that we are no longer aware of it. The child in the picture (credits:AP), is probably doing what every Palestinian child will be doing tomorrow for the Eid, carrying a gun and playing war games. It is hard however to imagine that these images of heroism and bravery that our children incorporate in their games are generated from the image of the Israeli soldier behind the child. With all the hate that we hold for him, we continue to see our "Freedom" in the image of the Israeli soldier.
What we need, and here I am using Freire's argument, is an alternative system that allows children (and adults, all the same), to develop their conciousness (here it would be more useful to use the French word connaissance as used by Foucault, because it refers to more than the idea of knowledge but a more rooted form of knowledge that conditions our behaviour), in a manner that is free of indoctrination. Children, at this young age are not allowed to form their own views, but rather to recite the views of those who wrote the text, they are not allowed to adopt a view or change it, or even discuss its validity.
This pedagogy forces them to grow as accomplices to the system, and, in the future they strengthen it, by emphasising and even trying to reach the image of their oppressers and attempting to practice the same oppression on others.
What Freire suggests and emphasises in his book is the essence of education as a practice of freedom. This practice, he holds should be mutual between the coloniser and the colonised, once they both reach a stage at which the image of their freedom (because even the coloniser is a victim of his own oppression) that is exclusive of hate, revenge and oppression, then both can work together to shape a free future for both of them.
What I didn't understand before starting to read this book is how a people like Israelis would dare to inflict that same pain, suffering and oppression on another people like the kind they suffered throughout history (save the quantitative comparisons). After reading the book, I am inclined to fear the day that we are free of our oppressors and we start looking for someone on which to excercise our image of "freedom". I can't remember if it is Ahlam Mustaghanmi or Haidar Haidar who said about the Algerian revolution that "the revolution eats its children", whoever it was, it is a very relevant quote that we should really take into consideration when we think of how to raise our children.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hi! im from mexico, im really like your interpretation off freire, im really interesting in the school of frankfurt.

p.d. sorry but i can´t speak/write well in english.

Primero cogieron a los comunistas y yo no dije nada porque no era comunista,
Luego se llevaron a los judíos y yo no dije nada porque yo no era judío,
Luego vinieron por los obreros y no dije nada porque ni era obrero ni era sindicalista,
Luego se llevaron a los sacerdotes y no dije nada porque no era religioso,
Y cuando finalmente vinieron por mi no quedaba nadie para protestar.
--Bertold Brethc--