Paolo Freire, Gayatri Spivak, and the (Im)possibiity of Education : The Methodological Leap in Pedagogy of the Oppressed and "Righting Wrongs"

University essay from Södertörns högskola/Institutionen för livsvetenskaper

Abstract: The main objective of this essay is to find out and show as to whether the respective pedagogies of Paolo Freire and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak are free from the authoritarian and oppressive tendencies they both expressively seek to oppose. More specifically, the investigation presented in this text is focused on the relation between theory and method in Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Spivak’s “Righting Wrongs – 2002: Accessing Democracy among the Aboriginals.” The analysis of this relation, and these two texts, moreover, is informed by three interconnected research questions, asking (1) how Freire and Spivak prompt us to learn from the learner, (2) if Freire and Spivak manage to circumvent the danger of transference, of imposing the teacher’s agenda on the student, and (3) how the methodological leap (from theory to practice) of Freire and Spivak fit into their respective theorizing in a broader sense. As the inquiries above suggest, this essay pays close attention to the fact that Freire and Spivak both—albeit to different degrees—try to render their theories practicable, while still avoiding undemocratic methods that fail to take into account the voice and the reality of the student. By way of a close reading of some of Freire’s and Spivak’s central pedagogical concepts, a thorough scrutiny of the concrete methodological examples provided by the same scholars, and an analysis of Freire’s dialectical reasoning and Spivak’s Marxist/deconstructionist theorizing, this thesis aims to demonstrate that neither of these two theorists are completely successful in realizing their educational projects. In the case of Freire, this is primarily due to a methodological saving clause that ultimately functions so as to mute students whose voices are not resonant with that of the pedagogue, and in Spivak’s case, the failure finds its explanation mainly in the author’s deconstructionist tendency to resist the practice of offering concrete, overall solutions to complicated problems.

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