LIKE THE demands for bilingual education that emerged from the Chicano Power movement and the insistence on equal access to educational resources that came out of the civil rights movement, Paulo Freire's prescriptions for critical pedagogy were informed by a broader battle for social justice. They were also, importantly, a product of his commitment not just to social reform but also to socialist revolution. Freire was a Marxist, and his conviction that the shortcomings of the educational system were inextricably tied to the inequality and injustices of the capitalist system is everywhere evident in Pedagogy of the Oppressed.
Unfortunately, and as has been noted in previous chapters, the gains of the movements of the sixties and seventies have been eroded, if not completely reversed, by forty years of neoliberal ideology and policy, and a lack of coordinated grassroots struggle. This is as true in the realms of criminal justice and welfare as it is in education. But the degree to which a lack of experience of struggle has allowed the neoliberal dictate of individual responsibility to pervade society is particularly apparent in the way that Freire's ideas have been stripped of both their historical context and their revolutionary theory. In the absence of collective struggle and without the underpinnings of Marxism, it is easy to see Pedagogy of the Oppressed as a set of principles and best practices for individual teachers--guidelines for a "revolution in one classroom."
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