Paoulo Freire, a great thinker, a philosopher, and a great analytic in the human history who had spotted light deeper into the realm of struggling society’s subconsciousness. Let us romanticize a bit his pioneering framework of ‘oppressor and the oppressed’ and ‘banking education’; he used these lens to scan and detect flaws in the very fabric of miserable societies. What we call inequity, injustice, violation of human rights, deprivation, cruel and inhuman treatment, degradation of human values, and humanitarian and human rights crisis using our contemporary lens; Freire found these loopholes in the covenant on the ‘pedagogy of the oppressed’.
He found contradiction in the relations between ruler-ruled, governor-governed, landlord-bonded farmers, teachers-students, employer-employee, parents-children, men-women and master-slave what we today call ‘power relation’. Culture of silence prevail when these relations are exploitative so as manipulative; landlord would ruthlessly whip farmers like bonded labor and teachers would deposit information at students’ brain considering as if students are filthy creatures know nothing and their brains are worse than empty trash. And profound absence of dialogical process plants the seeds of ‘culture of silence’. Such an oppressive framework would form a society where teachers and other head of institutions would preach their teachings, however, students listen without questioning. Similarly, it is sin for farmers when asking question why they are being paid lesser than what they deserve. It is a punishable offence, if students want to have dialogue with teachers about their ideas so as understanding. The purpose of these one-way education is to generate graduate who could comply and fit into oppressors’ institutional structure, mandate, and policy conditions.
This great thinker used symbolism, imagery and metaphor to tell the tale of pedagogy. He struggled all his life; as a child despite belonging to a middle class family fell into hunger and food insecurity because there was severe shortage of food in Brazil; despite having enormousness of natural resources, the country fell into hunger. Later he was jailed by Brazilian government for his outstanding work to teach Brazilian farmers on how to read and after that he was finally exiled from the country. He was hardly recognized by mainstream global academic community for his extraordinary work, such as, PhD students on ‘literacy, politics and policies’ of reputed universities may not need to read and critique his work.
Starting from autocratic government to academic institutions Freire’s pedagogy had become a threat. Renowned development workers also sidelined him by tons of PRA tools. He envisioned to transform oppressor and oppressed into enlightened being who would be working side by side to build and sustain a humane society. The permanence of such humane society would come through mass conscience and its a transcendental process. All the religious doctrine preach to build such a society where heaven would be at the state of permanence. Some may criticize him as utopian and there is nothing wrong to be an idealist but why his pedagogy threatened some minds.
Most probably he went too far pulling out ‘duality’ of ‘oppressor-oppressed’ from human subconsciousness, breaking down the ego silos, and raising conscience from and within human heart, practicing more and more values like love, trust, respect, not just pretending to be humanitarian rather becoming humane. He has crossed the line and wanted practitioners to act like super heroes to bring heaven on earth; but we, the timid human beings, want to live in vivid reality of sufferings and do not want to cross the line and break the wall, because we do not want ‘freedom’, because freedom comes through liberty and to gain liberty one needs to sacrifice sense of security and comfort from a materialistic perspective. In one hand, we do not want to risk whatever pleasures we have, on the other hand, we do not know what liberty looks like or how it feels alike; as Hegel confirms, “It is solely by risking life that freedom is obtained”.
We know what he said and we know too why we are afraid risking our lives for freedom, thus, it is better to live as egotistical and selfish, and to say he went too far and crossed the line that threatened our existence for the sake of liberty. Pink Floyd’s metaphor ‘another brick in the wall’ depicts the notion of banking education where teachers ridicule students’ creativity and oppress them from becoming free-thinker.