Letter to John Huppenthal, 1-30-12

Dear John Huppenthal,

I want to thank you for the racist actions you pulled against the Mexican people in your state of Arizona. Had it not been for your actions, I would have never contacted Bill Bigelow, author of “Rethinking Columbus,” one of the books you banned. Had I not contacted Bill Bigelow, I would have never found out about the book, “Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” by Paolo Freire. Bill told me that you really hate the work of this Brazilian author because in order for there to be oppressed, there must be oppressors, and what does that make you, right?

This is one of the most fantastic works on revolutionary thought I have ever read. Here are a few quotes that I’ve really enjoyed, and I’m only half way through this book:

“For the oppressors, “human beings” refers only to themselves; other people are “things.” For the oppressors, there exists only one right: their right to live in peace, over against the right, not always even recognized, but simply conceded, of the oppressed to survival. And they make this concession only because the existence of the oppressed is necessary to their own existence.” Pg. 57-58.

“The oppressor consciousness tends to transform everything surrounding it into an object of its domination. The earth, property, production, the creations of people, people themselves, time—everything is reduced to the status of objects at its disposal.” Pg. 58

“For the oppressors, what is worthwhile is to have more—always more—even at the cost of the oppressed having less or having nothing. For them, to be is to have and to be the class of the “haves.” Pg. 58

“Precisely because they are “ungrateful” and “envious,” the oppressed are regarded as potential enemies who must be watched.” Pg. 60 [I like this quote because it makes me think of the constant state of surveillance of the oppressed such as in parking lots, malls, facebook, gas stations, street corners, highways, etc.]

[About the student teacher relationship.] “Worse yet, it turns [students] into “containers,” into “receptacles” to be “filled” by the teacher. The more completely she fills the receptacles, the better a teacher she is. The more meekly the receptacles permit themselves to be filled, the better students they are.” Pg. 72. [This makes me think of teaching students to pass standardized tests, and not to be human beings. I have seen such things referred to in many books I’ve read about Indian education and education in general where it is stated that schools pump out employees, not human beings.]

Paolo talks more about what the teacher student relationship should look like, where all are teachers and all students are teachers, basically speaking. Paolo states it is more important to dialogue rather than to teach a parrot to repeat words to you, meaning IMO rather than to teach children to pass tests.

I’m not finished with the book yet, but I’m telling you, this is one of the most engaging and fascinating reads.


Again, thank you,

Eugene Johnson

Mlwaukie, Oregon


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