Drinking the Kool-Aid

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 10 2012

Freire and Hot Fries

My English teacher my junior year of high school told me it’s impossible to read without a pen in hand. I don’t have a pen–just a bag of hot fries. I do, however, have a blog…


Pedagogy of the Oppressed seemed very black and white. The whole world can be categorized and chunked up into neat divisions of oppressor and oppressed, of dialogue and anti-dialogue, of banking or problem-posing, of organization and manipulation. No axes, no continuum, no messiness. Anything other than the ideal is impossible. Anything less than perfect is destructive.


I ached for real examples and for anything other than Freire’s mind-products. I really thought I would put the book down and give up, but there was just enough story there, just enough application sprinkled throughout, to keep me going.
Did I learn anything? Sure—I like having a command of some of the Freire language, and I think it will be useful to think of some of his dichotomies as axes along which the real world can be analyzed. Anyway, the fact that I didn’t get more out of it is probably due to my own ignorance and impatience more than it is to some flaw in the work. I wonder, though, if the book’s popularity can be attributed at least in part to our desire for clear distinctions and hard-line boundaries—things that resonate psychologically but don’t really exist in the real world.

4 Responses

  1. hi! just checking in to see how you are doing :) glad you are not too stressed out about anything :) we both worry about all sorts of random things all the time!

    • Wess

      I absolutely heart you, Cameron!

  2. IMO Pedagogy of the Oppressed is to be viewed in much the same vein as A People’s History of the United States – the author isn’t making any pretense of objectivity, but rather of presenting a framing of events that contradicts the established narratives of the society and provides a jumping off point for further examination. I think Freire would actually be annoyed if people swallowed the whole thing uncritically.

    • Wess

      That makes a lot more sense.

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August 2012
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