A Visual Definition of Critical Pedagogy

As a group, we were challenged to come up with a definition of Critical Pedagogy as championed by Paulo Freire.  The following definition is what we came up with in words:

“An educational approach emphasizing strategies of critical questioning, classroom community, sensitivity, vulnerability, contextuality, pluralism, and democracy.”

We had a lot more to say, and we put our summaries into a word cloud highlighting the most important aspects of Critical Pedagogy:

We also wanted to try to describe this concept through visual aids.  Here is a potpourri of our favorite visuals connected to Critical Pedagogy:

Every child left behind?

Learning and knowledge is like an endless game of hacky sack.

Taking risks is necessary to achieve educational rewards.

… or at the heart of anybody transforming education.

Reject the “banking model” of teaching–students are not simply vessels to be filled.

It is important to think critically and not constrain students from thinking outside the box in the classroom.


Contributing Authors: Jacquelyn Prestegaard, Shaun Respess, Maryam Yuhas, Yousef Jalali, Matt Cheatham, Ernesto Acosta, Greg Purdy, Kristin Ulmer


    • psalmonsblog says:

      I really enjoyed the visual depiction of pedagogy. I think that today communication is key to presenting education in a manner that can be understood. I really think our readings implement an understanding of engagement and self-reflection that is evident in your gifs.

  • Hana says:

    It’s really great, especially “banking model” one! I just posted all images of this post on my Facebook. Yes, graphic is the universal language we can utilize in communication with people from different disciplines or demographics. It’s clear and simple way to convey/read a concept. I hope that my friends of Facebook also get the values of critical thinking.

  • erinleighvt says:

    I love the graphic of the animals required to take “the same test of climbing a tree!” I have heard a quote about this before, more specifically about a fish being asked to ride a bicycle. It really hits the point home that it is ridiculous to give one type of test to “judge” students. While we look more similar than an elephant looks like seal (for example), that does not mean we are that similar.

  • Ali says:

    Thank you all for this amazing work. I just wanted to tell you that we had similar concerns with you all in our table. The fact that in a number of questions there are no specific RIGHT answers was emphasized in our table. I would say these types of questions with no right answer helps students to have clear procedures encountering different issues, and also it is effective in their growth and education.

  • sogandmhz says:

    Thanks for this interesting blog post! I like that you use the visual aids to describe your definition of Critical Pedagogy. The most interesting one to me is the picture for banking model of teaching which is exactly what happened to me during elementary and high school. I think this type of teaching will completely ruin the creativity and critical thinking of the students.

  • nordicgod says:

    Good afternoon,

    I’m absolutely in love with your “word” definition! Captivated by the words vulnerability, pluralism and democracy. What a different learning experience I would have had thus far in my Ph.D. program if this was the mission statement for my college. Great job!


    Cheers, Lehi

  • Allie says:

    I love how big the word “student” is in y’all’s word puzzle piece. Perhaps one could say the center of education, currently, is the missing piece.

  • baileyfood says:

    I appreciate the inclusion of vulnerability to your definition of critical pedagogy. In the current teaching environment it seems students expect the educator to know everything – and this is reinforced by the current educational system. Acknowledging that one does not and can not expect to know all there is to know on a topic is important in order to shift mindsets. Vulnerability is a critical component.

  • jschlittepi says:

    Solid memeing with Morpheus and pals. Easily one of the top 4 word clouds I’ve seen on pedagogy this week!

  • Robert H says:

    Great post here. Utilizing the visual to get your discussion going incorporates the use of alternative methods to present information. Yes, every student is left behind in standardized tests and systems. Those best equipped to climb the tree are not learning anything new and those not equipped are just left there to feel inadequate. I like the flow of the pictures and your word cloud. Kudos and applause.

  • whitneyhadden says:

    Thanks for the post! I love the creativity that is shown through the visual aids. The use of word could was a great way to incorporate many peoples ideas into one space. I also especially liked the cartoon you started off with of the single test for different creatures.

  • arash says:

    Good job you all! This was a great post. The thing I really liked about your definition of critical pedagogy was your attention to vulnerability. Makes it so much down to earth and humane in my opinion.

  • Sevda says:

    Thanks for this awesome post! All of these visuals tell us more than any writings or paragraphs. They are more powerful to express ideas. Especially the first one for equity and the fifth one about banking model describe the concept perfectly! Thanks for these great pictures and cartoons. Great job!

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