Pedagogy of the Oppressed is a 1970 work on social science by Paulo Friere. It was first published in Portuguese in 1968, and was quickly translated into English and Spanish. Freire had been a literacy teacher amongst peasants in Brazil, an activity that, due to Brazil's entrenched class system and political situation, had many social and political ramifications.

The work was often cited and described as I went to graduate school in education, although it was usually more in the context of Freire's overall story than the specific contents of the work. And the story of Freire's dedication to education, and the political persecution he suffered, is truly an important story.

But the book itself, in my view, has many problems. Actually, it only has one problem, but it is a pretty big problem. The book is very, very tedious. Boring. Repetitive. One of Freire's great practical and theoretical contributions was to describe education as a two way street, a dialog as opposed to a process of "banking", and yet he ironically chooses to advocate for that in a book that is, despite its short length, full of repetitive passages of revolutionary jargon and existentialist philosophy. The book is also more about social theory in general than the actual process of education. And not just any social theory, but social theory that is rooted in a worldview, in both problems and solutions, that is foreign to me. While both a class system and the attendant flaws it causes in education are present in America, it is not a problem it is to the extent it is in fascist Brazil.

This is not to say that the book is not full of good ideas, and that is critical perspectives are not an important insight into both social and educational theory. The book is very valuable, and has many important passages. But due to its dense prose, it will most likely be talked about and cited more than it is actually read and understood.

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