Critical pedagogy: what is it, characteristics and objectives?
This is critical pedagogy, developed especially by Paulo Freire.
No one doubts that teaching is fundamental for societies to progress and to form citizens in accordance with the demands of their social environment.
The problem is that on many occasions teaching is anchored in simply transmitting knowledge, without encouraging meaningful learning or being critical of what is learned.
This is exactly the opposite of what critical pedagogy critical pedagogy, with figures such as Paulo Freire and Peter McLaren, who advocate that teaching is not only a way of teaching, but also a way of learning.who argue that teaching is an act that should encourage being critical, even of what is explained in that teaching. Next we will see more in depth this pedagogical branch.
What is critical pedagogy?
The critical pedagogy is an orientation of pedagogy that holds that teaching is not a neutral or decontextualized process, nor, indeed, should it claim to be. and, in fact, neither should it pretend to be. This branch argues that teaching should invite critical thinking, to question the lived reality and what is learned in class, since the knowledge imparted, after all, is selected by people who cannot escape their socio-political context, with its biases and opinions.
In addition to this, critical pedagogy aims to go beyond the classroom context. Through critical thinking students are invited to question the life they have had to live, and to see to what extent they can change it.and see to what extent they can change it through political and social intervention.
This type of pedagogy promotes social change by involving students in the socio-cultural movements of their time. The conceptualization of critical pedagogy aims to transform the traditional educational system in particular to encourage changes in society in general.
Although it takes its origins in the Frankfurt School, the ideas within critical pedagogy were deeply developed by several American philosophers, the most important referents being the Brazilian Paulo Freire, the Canadian Peter McFarrell, and the Canadian Peter McFarrell.Its main referents were the Brazilian Paulo Freire, the Canadian Peter McLaren and the American Henry Giroux. They were inspired by the philosophical proposals of Karl Marx, and share the importance of teaching students to get involved in what is happening around them, not to learn passively and not to apply it in their social environment.
Always starting from an ethical and political stance, critical pedagogy seeks to develop the art of questioning in students, making them ask themselves why their environment is the way it is, to see to what extent social structures are beneficial to them or, on the contrary, should be transformed or demolished.
Objectives of critical pedagogy
Although we have already been introducing it, we can highlight the following as the main objectives of critical pedagogy:
- To transform the traditional educational system.
- To encourage the questioning of what is taught.
- To be applied ethically and politically.
- To encourage students to question their social actions.
- To promote teaching methods from an analytical stance.
- To transform values and educational practices.
- To promote social change by questioning political and social processes.
The figure of Paulo Freire
The founder of critical pedagogy, at least in terms of its conceptualization understood as the most defined, is Brazilian philosopher and educator Paulo Freire.. His idea of critical pedagogy, also called liberating pedagogy, is quite contrary to the idea of banking education, which according to him was the most appropriate term to refer to traditional education.
As we have commented, critical pedagogy rejects the idea that knowledge is politically neutral, arguing that teaching, in itself, is a political act, regardless of whether the teacher is aware of it or not. The materials to be taught, the way they are taught, and the methods for penalizing error have been selected from an undoubtedly political perspective, both by teachers and by those in power.
In all countries there are socioeconomic differences in the type of education received, which in itself has a purpose in terms of oppression. The lower classes go to school to acquire just enough knowledge to be able to work in low-paying jobs, which hardly allow them to climb the ladder.which makes it difficult for them to move up the ladder. On the other hand, it is usual that in the education of those who hold power or were born into privileged classes, their education is focused on how to be able to exercise jobs in which they wield power and exploit the lower classes, more or less implicitly.
The educational curriculum in public schools in the most disadvantaged countries is usually limited to being able to read and write, and at the most to secondary education. In these same countries, the rich can easily reach higher education, where either because of the way in which education is directed to these classes and because of family pressures, they end up studying economics, with a clear view to run a large company or a business that uses people with little training as production labor.
The objective of critical pedagogy is emancipation from oppression through critical consciousness.. This is an idea coined in the Portuguese term "conscientização". When this objective is achieved, critical consciousness motivates individuals to bring about change in their society, through social critique as theoretical action and political action as practical action.
Within being critical of society, both ethically and politically, is the identification of authoritarian tendencies. To what extent does what we are taught in school allow us to reflect? Are we educated to be servants/dominators or are we really free? Whatever the type of education, it is clear that whatever is taught is politicized, and influences society, both by making it accept reality and by initiating change.
The practical aspect of critical pedagogy, both advocated by Freire and McLaren and Giroux, is, first of all, defining what power looks like and acquiring countermeasures against oppression.. It is this idea that is understood as liberating within the current. Social transformation will be the end product of a process that has its beginning in questioning the state of affairs, implementing changes, evaluating what has been achieved, reflecting and, again, questioning the new reality that has been arrived at.
- Freire, P. (1967). Educação como prática da liberdade. Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra.
- Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra.
- Freire, P. (1981). Educação e mudança. Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra.
- Freire, P. (1992). Pedagogy of Hope: A New Encounter with the Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra.
- Freire, P. (1997). Pedagogy of autonomy. Saberes necessários à prática educativa. Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra.
- Giroux, H (1997) Escritura y pensamiento crítico en los estudios sociales. Los profesores como intelectuales. Hacia una pedagogía crítica del aprendizaje. Barcelona. Paidós.
- Mclaren P. y Kincheloe, J. L.. (2008), Pedagogía crítica. De que hablamos, dónde estamos, Barcelona: GRAO
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)