Oppressor/Oppressed: The Struggle for Humanization
The struggle for humanization, breaking the cycles
of injustice, exploitation and oppression lies in the perpetuation
of oppressor versus oppressed. In these roles, those who commit
the injustice, the oppressors, do not only deny freedom to those
they oppress, they also risk their own humanity, because oppressor
consciousness "tends to transform everything surrounding
it into an object of its domination"(Freire,
1998b, p. 40).
These roles are so ingrained in society that
in the "initial struggle for liberation," the oppressed
frequently strive to imitate the oppressor. They see that role
as the "ideal model of humanity"(p.
To break the cycle, a revolution of ideas must
take place, freedom can only occur when the oppressed "eject
this image and replace it with autonomy and responsibility"(p.
But how do the oppressed reach this realization,
how do they "resolve the oppressor-oppressed contradiction"?(p.
34) Freire's answer was through "the
pedagogy of the oppressed, a pedagogy forged with not
for the oppressed..."(p.
30) By confronting "reality critically,
simultaneously objectifying and acting upon that reality",
the oppressed can begin transformation from objects to Subjects.
But this is only the first stage (p. 34).
Freire's pedagogy of the oppressed has two major
- The oppressed unveil the world of oppression and through the
praxis commit themselves to its transformation.
- The pedagogy ceases to belong to the oppressed and becomes
a pedagogy of all people in the process of permanent liberation.
Those who adopt Freire's pedagogy need to be
aware that it is not made up of techniques to save the world.
Instead, he felt that "...the progressive educator must always
be moving out on his or her own, continually reinventing me and
reinventing what it means to be democratic in his or her own specific
cultural and historical context"(Freire, 1997,