Critical pedagogy: what it is, characteristics and objectives

There is no doubt that education is essential for societies to progress and train citizens according to the requirements of their social environment.

The problem is that, in many cases, teaching is simply about imparting knowledge, without encouraging meaningful learning or criticizing what is learned.

It’s just the opposite that he defends critical pedagogy, with personalities such as Paulo Freire and Peter McLarenThe advocates of teaching is an act that should prompt us to be critical, even for what is explained in this teaching. Below we will take a closer look at this educational branch.

    What is critical pedagogy?

    Critical pedagogy is a pedagogical orientation which considers that teaching is not a neutral or decontextualized process and, in fact, he shouldn’t pretend to be either. This branch argues that teaching should invite critical reflection, to question the reality experienced and learned in the classroom, because the knowledge imparted, after all, is selected by people who cannot escape their socio-political context, with their prejudices and their opinions.

    In addition to this, critical pedagogy seeks to go beyond the context of the classroom. Through critical thinking students are invited to reflect on the life they had to live, And see to what extent they can change it through political and social intervention.

    It is in this type of pedagogy a promotion of social change by involving students in the socio-cultural movements of their time. The conceptualization of critical pedagogy aims to transform the traditional education system in particular to encourage change in society in general.

    Although it has its origins in the Frankfurt School, the ideas of critical pedagogy have been deeply developed by various American philosophers., Being his maximum referents the Brazilian Paulo Freire, the Canadian Peter McLaren and the American Henry Giroux. These were inspired by the philosophical propositions of Karl Marx, and share the importance of teaching students to be involved in what is going on around them, not to passively learn and not to apply it. in their social sphere.

    Always starting from an ethical and political position, critical pedagogy seeks to develop the art of questioning in students, by making them wonder why their environment is as it is, to see to what extent the social structures are beneficial. or, on the contrary, they must be transformed or demolished.

      Objectives of critical pedagogy

      Although we have already introduced it, we can highlight the following as the main objectives of critical pedagogy:

      • Transform the traditional education system.
      • Encourage questioning of what is being taught.
      • Be applied ethically and politically.
      • Encourage students to ask questions about their social actions.
      • Promote teaching methods from an analytical position.
      • Transform educational values ​​and practices.
      • Facilitate social change by questioning political and social processes.

      The figure of Paulo Freire

      The founder of critical pedagogy, at least in its conceptualization understood as more defined, is the Brazilian philosopher and educator Paulo Freire. His idea of ​​critical pedagogy, also described as liberating, is quite contrary to the idea of ​​banking education, which he said was the most appropriate term for traditional education.

      As we have seen, critical pedagogy rejects the idea that knowledge is politically neutral, arguing that teaching, in itself, is a political act, whether the teacher is aware of it or not. The materials to be taught, the way in which they are made and the methods of sanctioning error have been chosen from an undoubtedly political perspective, both by teachers and by those in power.

      In all countries, there are socio-economic differences in the type of education received, which in itself has a purpose in terms of oppression. Lower classes go to school to acquire the right knowledge to be able to work in low-paid jobs, Which barely allows them to climb positions. Instead, it is common that in the education of those in power or born into privileged classes, their education should focus on how to hold jobs in those who wield power and exploit the lower classes. , in a more or less implicit way.

      The educational program in public schools in the most disadvantaged countries is generally limited to knowing how to read and write, and at most to have a secondary education. In these same countries, the rich can easily access higher education, either because of the way in which the education for these classes is done and because of family pressures, they end up studying the degree in economics, with clear goals of running a large company or business. which uses poorly trained people for production.

      The goal of critical pedagogy is emancipation from oppression through critical awareness. It is an idea coined in the Portuguese term “conscientização”. When this goal is achieved, critical awareness motivates individuals to make changes in their society, through social criticism as theoretical action and political action as practical action.

      In the critique of society, both ethically and politically, there is an identification of authoritarian tendencies. To what extent does what we are taught in school allow us to reflect? Are we being educated to be serfs / rulers or are we really free? Regardless of the type of education, it is clear that what is taught is always politicized and influences society, both by accepting reality and by initiating change.

      The practical aspect of critical pedagogy, both advocated by Freire and McLaren and Giroux, is, in the first place, define what power is and acquire measures against oppression. It is this idea which is understood as liberating in the current. Social transformation will be the end product of a process that begins by questioning the state of affairs, implementing changes, evaluating what has been accomplished, reflecting and, again, challenging the new reality to which ” has come”.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Freire, P. (1967). Education as the practice of freedom. Rio de Janeiro: peace and land.
      • Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Rio de Janeiro: peace and land.
      • Freire, P. (1981). Education and change. Rio de Janeiro: peace and land.
      • Freire, P. (1992). Pedagogy of hope: reunion with the pedagogy of the oppressed. Rio de Janeiro: peace and land.
      • Freire, P. (1997). Pedagogy of autonomy. Knowledge necessary for educational practice. Rio de Janeiro: peace and land.
      • Giroux, H (1997) Writing and critical thinking in social studies. Teachers as intellectuals. Towards a critical pedagogy of learning. Barcelona. Paidós.
      • Mclaren P. and Kincheloe, JL. (2008), Critical pedagogy. What are we talking about, where are we, Barcelona: GRAO

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