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30+ quotes from Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire

Quotes from Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Paulo Freire ·  192 pages

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“Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.”
― Paulo Freire, quote from Pedagogy of the Oppressed


“Leaders who do not act dialogically, but insist on imposing their decisions, do not organize the people--they manipulate them. They do not liberate, nor are they liberated: they oppress.”
― Paulo Freire, quote from Pedagogy of the Oppressed


“[T]he more radical the person is, the more fully he or she enters into reality so that, knowing it better, he or she can transform it. This individual is not afraid to confront, to listen, to see the world unveiled. This person is not afraid to meet the people or to enter into a dialogue with them. This person does not consider himself or herself the proprietor of history or of all people, or the liberator of the oppressed; but he or she does commit himself or herself, within history, to fight at their side.”
― Paulo Freire, quote from Pedagogy of the Oppressed


“Looking at the past must only be a means of understanding more clearly what and who they are so that they can more wisely build the future.”
― Paulo Freire, quote from Pedagogy of the Oppressed


“… Without a sense of identity, there can be no real struggle…”
― Paulo Freire, quote from Pedagogy of the Oppressed


“The oppressors do not favor promoting the community as a whole, but rather selected leaders.”
― Paulo Freire, quote from Pedagogy of the Oppressed


“One cannot expect positive results from an educational or political action program which fails to respect the particular view of the world held by the people. Such a program constitutes cultural invasion, good intentions notwithstanding.”
― Paulo Freire, quote from Pedagogy of the Oppressed


“For apart from inquiry, apart from the praxis, individuals cannot be truly human. Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.”
― Paulo Freire, quote from Pedagogy of the Oppressed


“True generosity consists precisely in fighting to destroy the causes which nourish false charity. False charity constrains the fearful and subdued, the "rejects of life," to extend their trembling hands. True generosity lies in striving so that these hands--whether of individuals or entire peoples--need be extended less and less in supplication, so that more and more they become human hands which work and, working, transform the world.”
― Paulo Freire, quote from Pedagogy of the Oppressed


“...the fact that certain members of the oppressor class join the oppressed in their struggle for liberation, thus moving from one pole of the contradiction to the other... Theirs is a fundamental role, and has been throughout the history of this struggle. It happens, however, that as they cease to be exploiters or indifferent spectators or simply the heirs of exploitation and move to the side of the exploited, they almost always bring with them the marks of their origin: their prejudices and their deformations, which include a lack of confidence in the people's ability to think, to want, and to know. Accordingly, these adherents to the people's cause constantly run the risk of falling into a type of generosity as malefic as that of the oppressors. The generosity of the oppressors is nourished by an unjust order, which must be maintained in order to justify that generosity. Our converts, on the other hand, truly desire to transform the unjust order; but because of their background they believe that they must be the executors of the transformation. They talk about the people, but they do not trust them; and trusting the people is the indispensable precondition for revolutionary change. A real humanist can be identified more by his trust in the people, which engages him in their struggle, than by a thousand actions in their favor without that trust.”
― Paulo Freire, quote from Pedagogy of the Oppressed


“The oppressed, having internalized the image of the oppressor and adopted his guidelines, are fearful of freedom.”
― Paulo Freire, quote from Pedagogy of the Oppressed


“It is not the unloved who initiate disaffection, but those who cannot love because they love only themselves. It is not the helpless, subject to terror, who initiate terror, but the violent, who with their power create the concrete situation which begets the 'rejects of life.' It is not the tyrannized who initiate despotism, but the tyrants. It is not those whose humanity is denied them who negate humankind, but those who denied that humanity (thus negating their own as well). Force is used not by those who have become weak under the preponderance of the strong, but by the strong who have emasculated them.”
― Paulo Freire, quote from Pedagogy of the Oppressed


“It is necessary that the weakness of the powerless is transformed into a force capable of announcing justice. For this to happen, a total denouncement of fatalism is necessary. We are transformative beings and not beings for accommodation.”
― Paulo Freire, quote from Pedagogy of the Oppressed


“To simply think about the people, as the dominators do, without any self-giving in that thought, to fail to think with the people, is a sure way to cease being revolutionary leaders. ”
― Paulo Freire, quote from Pedagogy of the Oppressed


“Dehumanization, although a concrete historical fact, is not a given destiny but the result of an unjust order that engenders violence in the oppressors, which in turn dehumanizes the oppressed”
― Paulo Freire, quote from Pedagogy of the Oppressed


“No pedagogy which is truly liberating can remain distant from the oppressed by treating them as unfortunates and by presenting for their emulation models from among the oppressors. The oppressed must be their own example in the struggle for their redemption (Freire, 1970, p. 54).”
― Paulo Freire, quote from Pedagogy of the Oppressed


“To glorify democracy and to silence the people is a farce; to discourse on humanism and to negate people is a lie.”
― Paulo Freire, quote from Pedagogy of the Oppressed


“The radical, committed to human liberation, does not become the prisoner of a 'circle of certainty' within which reality is also imprisoned. On the contrary, the more radical the person is, the more fully he or she enters into reality so that, knowing it better, he or she can better transform it. This individual is not afraid to confront, to listen, to see the world unveiled. This person is not afraid to meet the people or to enter into dialogue with them. This person does not consider himself or herself the proprietor of history or of all people, or the liberator of the oppressed; but he or she does commit himself or herself, within history, to fight at their side.”
― Paulo Freire, quote from Pedagogy of the Oppressed


“An unauthentic word, one which is unable to transform reality, results when dichotomy is imposed upon its constitutive elements. When a word is deprived of its dimension of action, reflection automatically suffers as well; and the word is changed into idle chatter, into verbalism, into an alienated and alienating “blah.” It becomes an empty word, one which cannot denounce the world, for denunciation is impossible without a commitment to transform, and there is no transformation without action.”
― Paulo Freire, quote from Pedagogy of the Oppressed


“This, then, is the great humanistic and historical task of the oppressed: to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well.”
― Paulo Freire, quote from Pedagogy of the Oppressed


“Even revolution, which transforms a concrete situation of oppression by establishing the process of liberation, must confront this phenomenon. Many of the oppressed who directly or indirectly participate in revolution intend - conditioned by the myths of the old order - to make it their private revolution. The shadow of their former oppressor is still cast over them.”
― Paulo Freire, quote from Pedagogy of the Oppressed


“Libertarian action must recognize this dependence as a weak point and must attempt through reflection and action to transform it into independence. However, not even the best-intentioned leadership can bestow independence as a gift. The liberation of the oppressed is a liberation of women and men, not things. Accordingly, while no one liberates himself by his own efforts alone, neither is he liberated by others. Liberation, a human phenomenon, cannot be achieved by semihumans. Any attempt to treat people as semihumans only dehumanizes them.”
― Paulo Freire, quote from Pedagogy of the Oppressed


“Freedom is acquired by conquest, not by gift. It must be pursued constantly and responsibly. Freedom is not an ideal located outside of man; nor is it an idea which becomes myth. It is rather the indispensable condition for the quest for human completion.”
― Paulo Freire, quote from Pedagogy of the Oppressed


“Teachers and students (leadership and people), co-intent on reality, are both Subjects, not only in the task of unveiling that reality, and thereby coming to know it critically, but in the task of re-creating that knowledge. As they attain this knowledge of reality through common reflection and action, they discover themselves as its permanent re-creators.”
― Paulo Freire, quote from Pedagogy of the Oppressed


“P15 - Our advanced technological society is rapidly making objects of us and subtly programming us into conformity to the logic of its system to the degree that this happens, we are also becoming submerged in a new "Culture of Silence".”
― Paulo Freire, quote from Pedagogy of the Oppressed


“One cannot conceive of objectivity without subjectivity.”
― Paulo Freire, quote from Pedagogy of the Oppressed


“In a situation of manipulation, the Left is almost always tempted by a “quick return to power,” forgets the necessity of joining with the oppressed to forge an organization, and strays into an impossible “dialogue” with the dominant elites. It ends by being manipulated by these elites, and not infrequently itself falls in an elitist game, which it calls “realism.”

Manipulation, like the conquest whose objectives it serves, attempts to anesthetize the people so they will not think. For if the people join to their presence in the historical process critical thinking about that process, the threat of their emergence materializes in revolution…One of the methods of manipulation is to inoculate individuals with the bourgeois appetite for personal success. This manipulation is sometimes carried out directly by the elites and sometimes indirectly, through populist leaders.”
― Paulo Freire, quote from Pedagogy of the Oppressed


“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.” The very structure of their thought has been conditioned by the contradictions of the concrete, existential situation by which they were shaped. Their ideal is to be men; but for them, to be men is to be oppressors. This is their model of humanity.”
― Paulo Freire, quote from Pedagogy of the Oppressed


“The man or woman who proclaims devotion to the cause of liberation yet is unable to enter into communion with the people, whom he or she continues to regard as totally ignorant, is grievously self-deceived. The convert who approaches the people but feels alarm at each step they take, each doubt they express, and each suggestion they offer, and attempts to impose his "status," remains nostalgic towards his origins.”
― Paulo Freire, quote from Pedagogy of the Oppressed


“I can not think for others or without others,nor can others think for me. Even if the people's thinking is superstitious or naive,it is only as they rethink their assumptions in action that they can change. Producing and acting upon their own ideas—not consuming those of others.”
― Paulo Freire, quote from Pedagogy of the Oppressed


About the author

Paulo Freire
Born place: in Recife, Brazil
Born date September 19, 1921
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