Critical Pedagogy: Definition & Theory

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  • 0:03 The School's Role in…
  • 0:29 Definition of Critical…
  • 1:05 Practical Application
  • 1:49 Goals
  • 2:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In this lesson, we will learn more about critical pedagogy, including its definition and theoretical uses for social transformation through education.

The School's Role in Improving Society

In simple terms, schools are available to students so that children can learn to read, write, problem-solve, and think, but have you ever stopped to think about why those things are important to our society? Critical pedagogy emphasizes the role of educators to teach students to think about social injustices, so they can improve their world. Let's learn more about critical pedagogy.

Definition of Critical Pedagogy

Critical pedagogy is based on the work by Paulo Freire, a Brazilian educator, who was once imprisoned and then exiled as a traitor for his teaching methods which were used to teach illiterate adults. Critical pedagogy recognizes the influence that the lack of education has on the oppression of impoverished people.

One of the primary goals of education is to help people develop critical consciousness. Critical consciousness is the ability to assess the political and social structures that exist and to empower people to question authority and speak out against injustices.

Practical Application

In the classroom, this means that teachers and students participate in discussions in which both parties ask questions and reflect on answers. Prior to a lesson, the teacher asks participants questions that are used to create a list of topics that are relevant to that group of students. Once a list has been established, the teacher uses this list to create thematic class discussions.

Through the discussion process, participants begin to look critically at their own reality and the social structure of their community. Learners are engaged in the learning process because the discussions are based on their experiences. Using this method, hundreds of adult farm workers learned to read and write within 45 days.

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