Critical Pedagogy: An Ode to Paulo Freire

As you can see, most education systems around the world are based on the one-size fits-all philosophy and rob students of their creativity and ability to view and evaluate problems critically. It is all the more prevalent in oppressed communities who have limited access to quality education. According to K12 Academics, “Critical pedagogy is a teaching approach which attempts to help students question and challenge domination, and the beliefs and practices that dominate. In other words, it is a theory and practice of helping students achieve critical consciousness. ” Critical Pedagogy incorporates social elements into teaching and appeals to students to break free from oppressive teaching environments allowing them to harness their abilities to the fullest. Let’s look into how Critical Pedagogy was invented and Paulo Freire’s motivation behind it in the following video.

We can clearly see that Paulo in his childhood was the recipient of oppression due to poverty, detrimental to his learning. This served as a motivation for Paulo to breakthrough the norms of society and learn, and finally develop Critical Pedagogy, a form of teaching that takes into account the social status of the students to create experiences that are unique. He also compares the currents education system as the banking model where students are considered as passive empty receptacles to be filled by the wise all knowing teacher, also comparing the teacher-student relation to that of an oppressor and the oppressed respectively. Freire believes that teachers and students should have a similar status and learning must occur both ways.

I totally agree with this school of thought because if the teacher takes a higher role, students may not be able to connect to the teacher and learning may not occur. If the teacher caters to the needs of the students in a way that they can understand and relate to, learning will occur, also giving the teacher an opportunity to learn from the experience. Freire believes that education is fundamentally an act of love because the factors essential for education are solidarity, equal footing and mutual respect, that will eventually help students to be aware of socio-economic disparities, motivating them to alleviate the situation. Listen to the powerful TED talk by Nicole West-Burns on Building “Critical Consciousness for Educational Equity”, below.

She starts off by comparing ‘Equality’ and ‘Equity’, wherein she states that ‘Equality’ means giving everyone the same thing whereas ‘Equity’ means giving people what they need. The need for equity arises from the fact that there are people in the society that are privileged and others who are marginalized. This calls for rethinking experiences in education as well, to cater to the needs of the children especially the ones who are left out due to the norms of the society. I felt despair listening to her example about a lesson on static electricity and how some of the students felt left out because their hair was different from the others. This also made her realize the pain that her daughter felt when she was unable to learn because of a similar incident. This definitely demands critical analysis of our educational techniques to make sure students do not feel marginalized. The talk demonstrates the need to adopt Freire’s philosophy of Critical Pedagogy and advocates equity in the education system.

At the end, I would like to state that the issue of oppression and marginalization in education is real and needs a solid solution inspired by the ideology of Paulo Freire on Critical Pedagogy.


2 Replies to “Critical Pedagogy: An Ode to Paulo Freire”

  1. Hi Sahil. I appreciate your sharing information about Freire’s upbringing. Your blog provided vital information to understanding the “why” behind Freire’s critical pedagogy from his lived experience and how it has been influential in education in many countries. I found it interesting to know that his book has been banned in some places like the state of Arizona because his thoughts are considered controversial. I also love the abstract art picture of Freire. It is very eye-catching. Thank you for your perspective.

  2. Hi Sahil,

    I always appreciate your inclusion of external sources that connect to the reading materials. Your blog gives an excellent overview of critical pedagogy and how it calls out what is wrong with educational systems. While teaching is hard, Friere’s statement of teaching being an act of love reminds us that we have to work to achieve equitable education inside an inequitable society. Cheers!

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