The education system today is a system that is solely based on a teacher-student relationship. In today’s system, it’s more “schooling” than educating. Teachers teach and students learn because they are taught that teachers are always right. Students are taught not to question, and not to challenge the system. Paulo Freire in Pedagogy of the Oppressed goes into much detail about some of the challenges that the system of education faces. Some challenges that the education faces are concepts of, Fear of Freedom, Oppressed versus the Oppressor, and Culture of Silence.
In the system of education, there is a fear of freedom, where the educators are afraid to challenge the curriculum of those in higher authority in the fear of losing their careers; they teach what they are told to teach their students. Some educators want to challenge the system but if the majority do not act along with them, how can they challenge and change the ways of teaching. They have to follow the instructions of the administrators. Any act that is of their own can jeopardize their career. Freire also talks about the Fear of Freedom (46).
He states that because there is no sense of freedom teachers become oppressed. He says that, “freedom is acquired by conquest not by gift… (47)” They do not attempt to challenge the status quo. This concept is the Freirean Flip. The concept of the Freirean Flip is ironic because the oppressed becomes the oppressor. In the education system or in the classroom the teachers become both the oppressed and the oppressor. They are oppressed by the administrators about the curriculum. Due to them being oppressed they in turn become the oppressors in their classroom.
This is where the irony comes in; the teachers who were once oppressed begin to oppress their students, making them the oppressors. In other situations when the teachers gain promotions and become part of the administration they sometimes forget where they originated from and they oppress other teachers that they once worked with. Instead of causing a change when they become part of the administration, they forget their previous circumstances and become a part of the Oppressed-Oppressor system.
In comparison with “Fear of Freedom”, “Culture of Silence” is also an issue in the education system. In the culture of silence, the ones who are being educated are told not to “speak,” they are told not to challenge the system. Because of this, it is hard to think critically and to think on their own. There is also a lack of Critical Consciousness, or in Freire’s term Conscientizacao. They do not think beyond what they are taught, they do not question the concepts that they are being taught. It’s whatever the teacher says that goes.
Also in Culture of Silence, the students are “educated” in a way that they are aware that things are the way that they are, but nothing can be done about it. In a way they are enslaved, and are told what to think and do. In conclusion, our education system had to have a balance, where the role of the teachers and students are equal. Teachers do not always have to be teachers and in the same way students do not always have to be students. There should be a balance where the roles can be switched, students can be the teachers and teachers can also be the student.