A community blog focused on educational excellence and equity

About the topic

Explore classroom guidance, techniques, and activities to help you meet the needs of ALL students.

most recent articles

critical consciousness by paulo freire

Serving Language Learners From an Asset-Based Lens

critical consciousness by paulo freire

Using Math Milestones to Activate Student Agency

critical consciousness by paulo freire

Students Know Themselves Best

Discover new tools and materials to integrate into you instruction.

critical consciousness by paulo freire

How the Text Analysis Toolkit Expands Both Teaching and Learning in Classrooms

critical consciousness by paulo freire

Text Complexity is…well…complex!

critical consciousness by paulo freire

Challenging the Status Quo

Find instructions and recommendations on how to adapt your existing materials to better align to college- and career-ready standards.

critical consciousness by paulo freire

To Teach the Truth

critical consciousness by paulo freire

Helping Our Students See Themselves and the World Through the Books They Read in Our Classrooms

critical consciousness by paulo freire

Textbooks: Who Needs Them?

Learn what it means for instructional materials and assessment to be aligned to college- and career-ready standards.

Let’s Not Make Power ELA/Literacy Standards and Talk About Why We Didn’t

critical consciousness by paulo freire

What to Consider if You’re Adopting a New ELA/Literacy Curriculum

critical consciousness by paulo freire

Not Your Mom’s Professional Development

Delve into new research and perspectives on instructional materials and practice.

The Science of Reading as a Literacy for All Campaign

critical consciousness by paulo freire

High-Quality Curriculum Raised the Bar, But Not High Enough

critical consciousness by paulo freire

Research-based AND Responsive

What Is Critical Consciousness?

Understanding sociopolitical consciousness in the classroom

Dr. Abigail Amoako Kayser

“Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.” ( Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed )

Critical consciousness, conceivably the pinnacle of culturally relevant pedagogy (CRP), often proves challenging for many teachers to implement, leading many to leave it out of their instructional practice. However, this practice of critical thinking is a tool for students and teachers to examine the world and provides context and relevance for students to feel empowered to envision possibilities in transformative ways.

In her groundbreaking article “But That’s Just Good Teaching! The Case for Culturally Relevant Pedagogy,” Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings proposes that it is not “enough for students to choose academic excellence and remain culturally grounded if those skills and abilities represent only an individual achievement.” She asserts that teachers who practice in a culturally relevant way must engage in the tenet of sociopolitical consciousness, also known as critical consciousness, which she describes as “the ability to take learning beyond the confines of the classroom using school knowledge and skills to identify, analyze, and solve real-world problems.” 

This practice of sociopolitical consciousness is also highlighted in Dr. Bettina Love’s writing , that without critical consciousness, we face the danger of turning “schools into places that mirror society instead of improving it.”  By weaving critical consciousness into instructional practices, teachers provide a pathway for students “to understand that if we have to learn with each other we should also learn about each other so we can bring each other up,” as suggested by Christopher Emdin in For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood… and the Rest of Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education .

The role of curriculum, intervention, and assessment

The current state of K-12 school curricula, intervention, and assessment follows a long history of skill-based learning and measure with minimal consideration for cultural relevance. Student assessments are often leveraged to measure success toward standardized benchmarks. The outcomes of these assessments lead to interventions and the adoption of new curricula that are aimed at building academic skills. Unfortunately, the primary focus on skill-based learning neglects to address the criticality necessary for students to develop a strong sense of their identities. In addition, students miss the opportunity to gain an understanding of how they can maneuver themselves beyond the classroom in meaningful and productive ways. In other words, critical literacy goes beyond academic skill-building and extends into a student’s understanding of all forms of injustices and their ability to recognize how they can impact change. Dr. Geneva Gay warns that while some programs may increase achievement levels for students of color, “…their effect may not stand the test of time or be as comprehensive as they claim. They may inadvertently cause students to compromise their ethnic and cultural identity to attain academic achievement. ” (Gay, “Culturally Responsive Teacher: Theory, Research, & Practice”) 

In order to maximize the effectiveness of any curriculum, the content must provide personalized context and cultural relevance for students to serve as a medium through which critical consciousness can insert criticality into the learning experience. However, ignoring the social and cultural backgrounds of diverse students increases the risk of resistance and communicates a lack of relevance in their lives. Introducing critical consciousness into the curriculum invites students to consider their interactions with peers as well as the world outside of the classroom. Students begin to consider ideas around equity and justice as it impacts not only themselves but others as well. In this way, the learning experience offers students the freedom to explore creative and transformative ideas about how they can take social action for the betterment of the communities in which they exist. With this purposeful engagement, students are empowered to traverse their identities and beliefs to disciplines and cultures beyond their own, leading them to improve upon their academic performance. Critical consciousness allows students to finally arrive at the answer to the proverbial question: “Why am I learning this?” They discover that their learning can make the world a better place.

“ Criticality is the capacity to read, write, and think in ways of understanding power, privilege, social justice, and oppression, particularly for populations who have been historically marginalized in the world .” (Gholdy Muhammad, 2018)

However, despite the growing research that highlights the benefits of critical consciousness in the classroom, many educators face challenges to fully implement practices of criticality.

One reason teachers may hesitate to engage in this practice is the assumption of the political nature of this tenet. However, Gorksi and Swalwell, in Equity Literacy for All , remind us that the notion that schools are not and should not be a political space is a common misconception. Rather, Hess and Mcavoy suggest that creating a “political classroom” offers students the opportunity to learn “the process of deliberation that is the major skill being taught. And then, through deliberation, students are learning about the issues,…a process that is, at its heart, democratic.”

Practicing in a culturally relevant way is the embodiment of the thousand-mile journey beginning with a single step. It’s a challenging process where teachers who are doing the work of culturally relevant teaching never truly feel a sense of mastery or completion. Becoming a culturally relevant educator requires noticing, listening, being open to new perspectives, and interrogating one’s past. It requires deep empathy and intentionality on the teacher’s end to see the brilliance in minoritized students. For example, in an empathy interview with a first-grade teacher, Ms. Smith insists that we: “…make[s] sure that our actions as educators are never putting barriers in front of these students, and in fact, we are pushing them to shatter glass ceilings, regardless of any label that society may put on them.”

What are we learning? 

In our conversations with educators, one teacher noted that it was important for students to think critically “about what they’re learning and [have] real discussions about the relevance of what we’re talking about in their own daily lives.” What we see here is that critical consciousness unfolds in the classroom in nuanced ways. Teachers elevate the identities and life experiences of students that help them to have agency to communicate what is individually relevant. Another teacher reminded us that, in creating a space for critical consciousness, it is important for teachers to “give students the ability to be critical and allow them to be.” This teacher further explained that “I think that’s a skill that students need to practice because they will find that the world isn’t necessarily set up for everyone to be critical.”

Here, we highlight some of the salient practices shared with us by teachers in the empathy interviews:

The benefits of adding critical consciousness in the classroom

In gathering information for this project, we noted that teachers who practice CRP often display a deep understanding of why there is a need for justice and what fuels injustice. Furthermore, they need to understand the intersectional nature of injustice; more specifically, it must be a reminder of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” In this tenet, educators must understand how systemic and institutional racism fuels discrimination and oppression and how that leads to an opportunity gap for many students. This understanding and mindset help teachers to avoid blaming their students and their communities for perceived shortcomings.

When introducing critical consciousness in the classroom, the learning environment becomes more than a space for acquiring academic skills and rigor. Students begin to engage in discourse that allows them to question injustices, challenge oppressive practices, and actively participate in problem-solving for the betterment of the communities in which they exist, both in and outside of school. Critical consciousness invites students and educators alike to consider the perspectives of multiple identities when reading and analyzing text. This approach to critiquing and interrogating content humanizes education by expanding its purpose to the larger context of society. As students develop critical consciousness, they also gain an understanding of the significance of their own identities and the power of their influence.

One thought on “ What Is Critical Consciousness? ”

There are many real-life examples of young people using their own experiences, abilities, and desires to effect changes in society. It is important to share these examples with students and show them that they each are capable of working to solve problems whether in their individual situations or in society and that they can bring their own special insights, backgrounds, and abilities to this work.

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About the Author: Abigail Amoako Kayser, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor at the College of Education at California State University, Fullerton in the Department of Elementary and Bilingual Education. She is a Fulbright Scholar and a former elementary teacher. Through her research and teaching, she aims to advance our understanding of how teachers ensure equitable, just, and anti-racist educational experiences and outcomes for historically resilient students in the U.S. and Ghana.

About the Author: Tina Starks is Designer for Student Achievement Partners where she works in community with inspiring colleagues and educators to collectively design resources, tools, and spaces of learning aimed at humanizing education for transformational impact. Her lived and professional experiences bring intentionality to emphasize the belonging and affirming of Black students and English learners in our schools.

critical consciousness by paulo freire

What Is Academic Success (Student Learning)?

critical consciousness by paulo freire

What Is Cultural Competence?

Stay in touch.

Like what you’re reading? Sign up to receive emails about new posts, free resources, and advice from educators.

Goodreads Celebrates Women's History Month

Education for Critical Consciousness

Paulo freire.

146 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1965

About the author

Profile Image for Paulo Freire.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think? Rate this book Write a Review

Friends & Following

Community reviews.

Profile Image for Zach.

Join the discussion

Can't find what you're looking for.

critical consciousness by paulo freire

Critical consciousness: A key to student achievement

Aaliyah El-Amin, Scott Seider, Daren Graves, Jalene Tamerat, Shelby Clark, Madora Soutter, Jamie Johannsen, and Saira Malhotra February 4, 2017


Black students can achieve at higher levels when schools teach them how to see, name, and challenge racial oppression.

Research has suggested that critical consciousness — the ability to recognize and analyze systems of inequality and the commitment to take action against these systems — can be a gateway to academic motivation and achievement for marginalized students. That was certainly the case for Terrence, a junior at One Vision High School and a participant in a school project to develop a podcast titled “Our City Today.” Here’s what Terrence said about his participation in this project:

I wanted opportunities to speak openly with my peers about the things that we see every day. Crime rates, drug rates, riots. I had the chance to put the past in conversation with the future. I watched a documentary that showed how police brutality and issues like that have been going on for a long time . . . [and that black] children back in the day didn’t have the opportunity to come to a school like One Vision. I consider that a challenge. Sometimes I want to leave One Vision. Sometimes I want to leave so bad. But I know deep down in my heart why I’m here, so I buckle down and do my homework . . . I see the bigger picture.

A heightened critical consciousness helped Terrence commit to his schooling. Yet despite the benefits that critical consciousness development offers to students, little research has investigated how schools can develop black students’ critical consciousness of racial oppression.

To help fill this gap, we studied five urban schools in the northeast that serve predominantly black student bodies and include critical consciousness development in their mission. (The names for all of the schools are pseudonyms.) Our longitudinal, mixed-methods study focused on the role schools can play in preparing youth of color to analyze, navigate, and challenge oppressive conditions in our society. Terrence was one of 50 black high school students in the class of 2017 whom we interviewed over the past three years.

A key theme emerging from these interviews is that black teenagers are attuned to the vast array of unjust structural forces operating in their communities, in society, and in their schools. Schools seeking to increase black students’ academic achievement must directly address these relevant social forces. Otherwise, they’re missing what Terrence calls “the bigger picture.”

The case for critical consciousness

Brazilian educator Paulo Freire (1970) conceived of critical consciousness while working with adult laborers in Brazil. Freire realized that inequality is sustained when the people most affected by it are unable to decode their social conditions. Freire proposed a cycle of critical consciousness development that involved gaining knowledge about the systems and structures that create and sustain inequity (critical analysis), developing a sense of power or capability (sense of agency), and ultimately committing to take action against oppressive conditions (critical action).

Contemporary research has found that critical consciousness not only expands young people’s commitment to challenging pervasive injustice (Ginwright, 2010; Watts, Diemer, & Voight, 2011) but also increases academic achievement and engagement (Carter, 2008; O’Connor, 1997). In particular, school-based programming designed to foster critical consciousness has been shown to increase academic engagement and achievement (Cabrera et al., 2014; Cammarota, 2007; Dee & Penner, 2016) and enrollment in higher education (Rogers & Terriquez, 2013). In explaining these relationships, researchers have suggested that critical consciousness of oppressive social forces can replace feelings of isolation and self-blame for one’s challenges with a sense of engagement in a broader collective struggle for social justice (Diemer et al., 2014; Ginwright, 2010). Research also suggests that a critical consciousness about racism, specifically, can motivate black students to resist oppressive forces through persisting in school and achieving in academics (Carter, 2008). This motivation is often fueled by a desire to prove wrong the stereotypes embedded in racist structures and institutions (Carter, 2008; Sanders, 1997). Terrence’s reflection about the persistent institutional racism he saw in his community as a challenge to stay the course in school is an example of such “achievement as resistance.”

Promising practices

Three strategies emerged from our study as promising practices schools can use to develop black students’ critical consciousness and harness the connection between critical consciousness and student achievement.

#1. Teach the language of inequality.

A key component of critical consciousness is the ability to recognize inequality and injustice (Watts, Griffith, & Abdul-Adil, 1999). For black students to successfully work against the conditions that create barriers to their learning, they need to notice when these barriers are at play and be able to communicate and explain what they notice. For example, Terrence’s participation in the “Our City Today” project gave him time and space to “see” his community and understand its challenges at a deeper level, and it also gave him access to language to explain what he noticed. Educators can support such development in their students by introducing a framework for analyzing inequity.

Make the Road Academy (MtRA), another high school in our study, introduced students to a framework for recognizing forms of racism in society. Students learned that racism can be transmitted in three ways: through interpersonal racism, racism that occurs between individuals, institutional racism, racism that is expressed by and through social and political institutions, and internalized racism, racist beliefs that marginalized groups hold against themselves. Teachers taught this framework, called The Three I’s, over several lessons. In one lesson our research team observed, students practiced their comprehension of each of the forms of racism by reviewing examples of racism from their community:

            Teacher:   How about when TV personality Judge Joe Brown tells black children they will be criminals in the courtroom?

         Student 1:   I called it interpersonal because he’s telling kids a stereotype.

           Teacher:   Exactly. Or when liquor stores are strategically placed on every corner in urban neighborhoods?

       Student 2:   I put institutional. They’re placing liquor stores in urban neighborhoods so a lot of people will smoke and drink.

           Teacher:   What about blacks believing their hair isn’t beautiful, so they buy “better” hair from other races?

       Student 3:   Institutional?

       Student 4:   Internalized oppression because society says that black people have coarse or knotty hair, and [some black women] believe it.

           Teacher:   [to clarify] When any race or group of people starts believing the stereotypes about them, this is internalized oppression.

Later, students were asked to diagram an urban neighborhood where racism was present and label each example with the appropriate “I” in the framework. Students drew a range of images:

Offering students language to distinguish among different types of racism gave them a tool that helped them read the world. One MtRA student, Mason, explained:

In school, they’re really teaching us how to be able to recognize it [racism] more. If you were to ask me a couple years back if I knew what internalized oppression was, I wouldn’t be able to tell you ’cause I didn’t know. But I know what it is now.

This clarity and language offer profound benefits. Oppression is easiest to sustain when the disenfranchised ignore it, miss it, or support it rather than resist it (Watts et al., 1999). Critical consciousness and the associated language of inequality make racial injustice visible. In schools, this visibility creates an opening for educators to discuss the role that social forces play in students’ lives and in students’ learning opportunities and outcomes.

#2. Create space to interrogate racism.

In addition to being able to recognize inequity and describe it, students need to understand the depths of inequality and the myriad forces that sustain it. Terrence described his new understanding of the long history of police brutality in the lives of black people as powerful learning. It provided him with the motivation to persist and excel academically. Recognizing that such consciousness about inequality could both deepen their students’ academic motivation and ability to resist racial injustice, each school in our study used different practices to create spaces within students’ everyday schoolwork to facilitate learning about race inequality.

At Leadership High School, for example, 11th- and 12th-grade students participated in a semester-long English seminar focused on the black experience (another was offered on the Latino experience). The seminars created a space within school for students to learn about issues of race and racial identity and better understand how racial inequity works systemically and in their own lives. In the Black Experience seminar, students read Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me (2015), a book that analyzes how black bodies are treated in the United States. After reading the book, the students discussed the underlying mindsets and systemic forces that contributed to the disregard for black bodies during slavery and continue to contribute to the persistent disregard for these bodies today. For most students in the class, who are navigating society in black skin, this conversation contributes to their understanding of their personal experiences with racial inequity.

Schools in our study also make time to discuss racial inequity that students see on the news, in social media, and in their communities. Following a series of protests in the community as part of the Black Lives Matter movement, the principal asked her faculty to allot time during morning advisory for students to discuss and reflect on the following three questions:

In this and other instances, the conversations were not a part of the intended schedule, yet educators recognized the importance of these events in students’ lives and took advantage of the opportunity to develop students’ critical consciousness. To truly integrate critical consciousness development into the work of school, schools need to be prepared to fold in these conversations spontaneously when the need arises.

#3. Teach students how to take action.

When people understand the social, economic, and political forces threatening their communities, they’re more likely to engage in activities that challenge those forces (Ginwright, 2010). In a third school in our study, Community Academy, the humanities curriculum introduced students to historical and contemporary methods for resistance.

In a 9th-grade lesson on apartheid in South Africa, for example, students discussed the differences between civil disobedience and militant resistance and debated their respective effectiveness in social change efforts:

        Teacher:   OK, the setting is 1961. The Sharpeville massacre just happened. You’re a member of the African National Congress, and you have to decide what to do.

       Student 1:   I said we should do militant resistance because [the protesters] tried to be peaceful, and it didn’t work.

       Student 2:   My opinion is militant resistance. [The protesters] really touched the government on some basics like shutting off their power plant or attacking government buildings and power stations. But they were avoiding killing people. I feel like that’s important because it was like sending the government a warning and getting their point across by hurting what the government really needed.

       Student 3:   I disagree because they’re not going to listen to you if you’re not peaceful.

       Student 2:   Well, I’m not saying violence is the key, but, in this case, it really was. You have to fight fire with fire on this one. [The police] was treating [the protesters] all unfair. And when they marched peacefully, [the police] was like, “We don’t care.” They spit in their face.

       Student 4:   I disagree because either way everyone dies, and that doesn’t solve anything.

In this lesson, students were learning how resistance happens, as well as the possible implications of different types of resistance. Such lessons position students to act against inequity in thoughtful and strategic ways. For example, as a part of the Black Lives Matter movement, numerous students at Community Academy participated in a citywide walkout and protest. One student, Missy, clearly linked this experience to her learning about different types of social action in humanities class. As she explained:

First I was like, I don’t know what me marching out here is gonna do ’cause they can’t personally hear what I want to say. But like we learned in humanities, civil disobedience will actually get us to where we want to be if we do it without violence and with words.

Through such instruction, Community Academy shows students how to resist in ways that overcome racism as a barrier to success and that have positive long-term outcomes for both individuals and communities. Scholars suggest that understanding adaptive strategies of resistance leads students to identify academic achievement as part of a collective struggle (Carter, 2008).

Empowered to achieve

A robust body of scholarship makes clear that disparities in academic learning outcomes between black students and peers from other racial groups are directly linked to a wide array of structural injustices in the United States against the black community. These include biased housing policies, gaps in economic opportunities, the over-incarceration of black men and women, rampant police brutality, and the unequal allocation of resources to schools (Carter & Welner, 2013). As educators, we cannot claim to be concerned with closing academic gaps without taking seriously the question of how to give black students the language and skills they need to understand the social conditions working against them.

Nor can we ignore the profound social change and academic benefits of nurturing students’ critical consciousness. Through providing a framework and a language for analysis, making space to talk about inequity, and teaching students how to take action, schools can integrate students’ sociopolitical realities into their ongoing work and contribute to critical consciousness development.

At the end of his interview, Terrence shared something he claimed he had never told anyone before.  “This project changed me,” he said. His reaction isn’t just the isolated narrative of one black student. It’s reflective of the transformative possibilities of committing to critical consciousness development in schools.

Cabrera, N., Milem, J., Jaquette, O., & Marx, R. (2014). Missing the (student achievement) forest for all the (political) trees: Empiricism and the Mexican-American studies controversy in Tucson. American Educational Research Journal, 51 (6), 1084-1118.

Cammarota, J. (2007). A social justice approach to achievement: Guiding Latina/o students toward educational attainment with a challenging, socially relevant curriculum. Equity & Excellence in Education, 40 (1), 87-96.

Carter, D.J. (2008). Cultivating a critical race consciousness for African-American school success. Educational Foundations, 22 (1-2), 11-28.

Carter, P.L. & Welner, K. (2013). Closing the opportunity gap: What America must do to give every child an even chance. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Coates, T. (2015). Between the world and me. New York, NY: Penguin Random House.

Dee, T. & Penner, E. (2016). The causal effects of cultural relevance: Evidence from an ethnic studies curriculum. CEPA Working Paper No. 16-01. https://cepa.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/wp16-01-v201601.pdf

Diemer, M., Rapa, L., Park, C., & Perry, J. (2014). Development and validation of a critical consciousness scale. Youth & Society, 1-23.

Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York, NY: Herder & Herder.

Ginwright, S. (2010). Black youth rising: Activism and racial healing in urban America. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

O’Connor, C. (1997). Dispositions toward collective struggle and educational resilience in the inner city: A case analysis of six African-American high school students. American Educational Research Journal, 34 (4), 593-629.

Rogers, J. & Terriquez, V. (2013). Learning to lead: The impact of youth organizing on the educational and civic trajectories of low-income youth. Los Angeles, CA: Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access.

Sanders, M.G. (1997). Overcoming obstacles: Academic achievement as a response to racism and discrimination. Journal of Negro Education, 66 (1), 83-93.

Watts, R., Diemer, M., & Voight, A. (2011). Critical consciousness: Current status and future directions. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 134, 43-57.

Watts, R., Griffith, D., & Abdul-Adil, J. (1999). Sociopolitical development as an antidote for oppression: Theory and action. American Journal of Community Psychology, 27, 255-272.

Originally published in February 2017 Phi Delta Kappan 98 (5), 18-23. © 2017 Phi Delta Kappa International. All rights reserved.

critical consciousness by paulo freire

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Proin ut quam purus. Pellentesque at neque et ex ultrices euismod.

[…] Read the full article on Phi Delta Kappan by Aaliyah El-Amin, Scott Seider, Daren Graves, Jalene Ta… […]

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.


It’s more than money: Supporting the Black school

By Jonathan E. Collins

Seeking safety in a ‘code’

By Charles Bell

Choosing to see the racial stress that afflicts our Black students 

By Riana Elyse Anderson, Farzana T. Saleem, and James P. Huguley

Less is more: The limitations of making judgments

By Valerie Faulkner, Patricia L. Marshall, Lee V. Stiff, and Cathy L. Crossland

Charter schools don’t serve black children well: An interview with Julian Vasquez Heilig

By Joan Richardson

Columns & Blogs

critical consciousness by paulo freire

Career Confidential

Phyllis L. Fagell

Teacher’s doctor advises she teach virtually but district won’t allow it

On Leadership

Joshua P. Starr

A value proposition for a new era

Washington View

Maria Ferguson

Is forgive and forget the best policy?

Under The Law

CTE: A checkered legal history

First Person

Kasandra Singh

How I gamified my classroom

Jung-Ah Choi

The controversy of teaching CRT in K-12

critical consciousness by paulo freire

Messy times ahead for school spending

critical consciousness by paulo freire

Sign up for our free e-newsletter

Stay up to date on the latest news, research and commentary from Kappan.

Subscribe to our mailing list

Paulo Freire: the pioneer of critical pedagogy

An illustration of critical pedagogy pioneer Paulo Freire

Is this fair? Was that just? Was there equality? Paulo Freire imagined a world where all learners developed their critical consciousness. Now you can too.

During a Year 5 lesson on being assertive, passive, or aggressive, I wrote paragraphs about each on the whiteboard. One learner asked,

“ why do the assertive and passive paragraphs use ‘they’ and the aggressive paragraph use ‘he’? ”.

She was pointing out an unconscious bias in the paragraph by unfairly seeing aggression as more of a male attribute. I was amazed that she had picked up on it.

So why did this learner see what was invisible to her peers (and to most of us, really)? There are lots of reasons but, I think she saw this bias because she already has a well-developed critical conscience. She sees the world through a lens that drives her to ask insightful questions around the issue of equality.

Imagine if we could develop a critical consciousness in all our learners through our pedagogy. This is what the Brazilian educator and philosopher Paulo Freire advocated. With critical consciousness, Freire hoped learners would go on to be people who change society by overcoming oppression and making the world fairer for all.

Paulo Freire and the idea of critical pedagogy

Paulo Freire (1921–1997) was a champion of what’s known today as critical pedagogy: the belief that teaching should challenge learners to examine power structures and patterns of inequality within the status quo.

Freire emphasised how important it is to remember what it is to be human and saw education as a way to transform oppressive structures. His perspective stemmed from the values of love, care, and solidarity.

What is Freire’s banking concept of education?

In his most famous book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed , Freire talks about education becoming an act of depositing. He calls this the ‘banking concept of education’ which is his — admittedly bleak — way of saying that learners are not actively participating in their learning, in problem-posing or interacting, but are expected to receive, memorise, and repeat information.

This approach has a disempowering effect on learners and can create misuse of power. In this scenario, the teacher is all-knowing, ‘kindly’ bestowing their knowledge on to those considered ignorant. Freire’s antidote to this dehumanising approach? Critical thinking and pedagogy that encourages participation.

Here’s how you can incorporate Freire’s theory in your own classroom.

What are the implications of Freire’s ideas?

There are three areas to consider in light of Freire’s work. Incorporate them into your lessons and you’ll have a class of thoughtful, compassionate adults-in-training.

How can we integrate Freire’s ideas in the classroom?

First, implementing Freire’s idea of critical consciousness means, opening your own eyes to the injustices around us. When you start to notice how one dominant group in society may be imposing a culture or worldview on everyone else, you can begin to resist it.

There are practical things you can do to reduce authoritarianism, invite more inquiry and problem-posing learning opportunities, and develop critical literacy. Here are some examples.

As human beings, we’re all in the process of becoming more authentic. This is why Freire emphasised:

“ honestly confronting the realities we faced, on carefully listening, on remembering what it means to be fully human, on using one’s lived experiences to think critically about that reality and how it might be changed. “

It takes courage to practice pedagogy that includes critical consciousness instead of going with the flow all the time, but what a fantastic challenge for teachers!

Is it your time to be brave?

References: Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the Oppressed . London: Penguin Random House.

Jane Currell

Browse by Topic

Your teaching practice.

Boost your teaching confidence with the latest musings on pedagogy, classroom management, and teacher mental health.

Maths Mastery Stories

You’re part of a growing community. Get smart implementation advice and hear inspiring maths mastery stories from teachers just like you.

Teaching Tips

Learn practical maths teaching tips and strategies you can use in your classroom right away — from teachers who’ve been there.

Classroom Assessment

Identify where your learners are at and where to take them next with expert assessment advice from seasoned educators.

Your Learners

Help every learner succeed with strategies for managing behaviour, supporting mental health, and differentiating instruction for all attainment levels.

Teaching Maths for Mastery

Interested in Singapore maths, the CPA approach, bar modelling, or number bonds? Learn essential maths mastery theory and techniques here.

Deepen your mastery knowledge with our biweekly newsletter



You are accessing a machine-readable page. In order to be human-readable, please install an RSS reader.

All articles published by MDPI are made immediately available worldwide under an open access license. No special permission is required to reuse all or part of the article published by MDPI, including figures and tables. For articles published under an open access Creative Common CC BY license, any part of the article may be reused without permission provided that the original article is clearly cited. For more information, please refer to https://www.mdpi.com/openaccess .

Feature papers represent the most advanced research with significant potential for high impact in the field. A Feature Paper should be a substantial original Article that involves several techniques or approaches, provides an outlook for future research directions and describes possible research applications.

Feature papers are submitted upon individual invitation or recommendation by the scientific editors and must receive positive feedback from the reviewers.

Editor’s Choice articles are based on recommendations by the scientific editors of MDPI journals from around the world. Editors select a small number of articles recently published in the journal that they believe will be particularly interesting to readers, or important in the respective research area. The aim is to provide a snapshot of some of the most exciting work published in the various research areas of the journal.

critical consciousness by paulo freire


Article Menu

critical consciousness by paulo freire

Find support for a specific problem in the support section of our website.

Please let us know what you think of our products and services.

Visit our dedicated information section to learn more about MDPI.

JSmol Viewer

Critical consciousness for connectivity: decoding social isolation experienced by latinx and lgbtq+ youth using a multi-stakeholder approach to health equity.

critical consciousness by paulo freire

1. Background

2. theoretical foundation: critical consciousness for solidarity.

For cultural invasion to succeed, it is essential that those invaded become convinced of their intrinsic inferiority. Since everything has its opposite, if those who are invaded consider themselves inferior, they must necessarily recognize the superiority of the invaders. The values of the latter thereby become the pattern for the former. The more invasion is accentuated and those invaded are alienated from the spirit of their own culture and from themselves, the more the latter want to be like the invaders: to walk like them, dress like them, talk like them . [ 46 ] (p. 153)

3.1. Participant Recruitment

3.2. procedures, 3.2.1. focus groups with cab members, 3.2.2. interviews with latinx lgbtq+ youth making telenovela films, 3.3. data analysis, 4.1. reflecting and decoding.

For a White LGBTQ person, they can hide their sexuality a little bit easier than a Latinx person who sometimes is not White passing and doesn’t have that privilege of hiding that part because you also have that other layer of not looking quite... So sometimes it’s a double whammy of sorts. There’s one community that’s lowkey racist towards you and has these assumptions of you: “Oh, you’re promiscuous, spicy [gagging], and like stuff like that.” But then you have…this other [Latinx] community on the extreme side of things think that you deserve to die for who you are. It’s going against God; it’s going against your family. (Latinx LGBTQ+ youth, CAB)
Kind of confronting your own identity can be really hard when you’re not surrounded by people like you…thinking of examples in middle school. I’m White passing. When people say things around me that are really offensive like about Mexicans… They be like, “Those groups of girls are so annoying. Those loud assed Mexicans...” “You know I’m Mexican, right?” But they are like, “You are not THAT type of Mexican.” Like that stuff it puts you in a place where you are, “What type of Mexican am I?” You know like that is a cause of social isolation because I thought these people were my friends, but they are completely rejecting a part of my identity. Should I reject that part of my identity? …I don’t who do talk to about this because like I’m 12. I didn’t talk to my parents about this stuff, you know? It’s just you don’t know how to feel, and you don’t know who to talk to. Because…What do I do? Who am I? What am I? It’s so weird… The word Chicana wasn’t even like never heard of it until I was 19. Just being able to be honest about your own identity and have people accept it. There’re so many different levels to it. There’s a group of people who like maybe might be comfortable with my sexual orientation, but are they comfortable with my race and ethnicity? It’s just so many yeah, it’s a lot. (Latinx LGBTQ+ youth, CAB)
I don’t feel accepted in the Latin community nor the Black community nor the LGBTQ community. Ever since I was around 12, I knew I was attracted to both male and female but my family frowned upon it. In my family, they train girls at an early age to be a house wife, by buying easy bake ovens, dresses, and bows. I would go to church and the preacher said “God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve…I consider myself Afro-Latina because my mom is Dominican but people in America not familiar with the term. Like if I say something in Spanish, Black people would say “you’re black, you only speak English,” like there isn’t black people all around the world. And I asked one of my friends should I join Latino Leadership. He said, “No,” because I wasn’t light enough, my Spanglish wasn’t good enough, and I somewhat believe him. I hate that my family stripped out culture to fit in America. But Tuesday I’m joining Latino Leadership. I don’t care if I’m too dark. (Latinx LGBTQ+ youth, CAB)
Our children suffer so much because they lack identity. One of my daughters told me, “Look, I don’t feel like I’m Mexican, and I’m not American.” I was not ready for that and didn’t know how to respond. So, I asked, “Why do you feel that way?” [She said,] “I know that I’m Mexican because you and dad are Mexicans. But I wasn’t born in Mexico. I was not raised in Mexico, and I don’t know anything about Mexico. I’m not American because I’m in the middle of all of the White people and I’m not like them.” …God illuminate and help me! … because kids suffer and they keep many things in silence. That’s how [LGBTQ+] people suffer rejection since their childhood, traumas from different situations… for the gay it’s triple, it’s like seeing him as abnormal. And on top of that, there is something extra, right? So, I told my daughter, “It’s true that you didn’t grow up in Mexico and you don’t know anything about Mexico, but don’t feel that way. It’s good that you are looking at that, that you are asking those questions. Maybe what you need is to get more involved in the Hispanic community and with young girls here. Because remember that here in this country we are a mix of cultures. (Latinx Parent, CAB)

4.2. Taking Action to Address Social Isolation in 4-H, Broader Community, and Healthcare Settings

4.2.1. within 4-h youth development programs.

As I come from a small White conservative city, I think the mere act of touch or looking for too long was considered “gay.” I think this is terrifying for gay and queer men, too, since it’s difficult to make friendships with other men. I’m thinking back to the transcript with the LGBTQ+ CAB who mentioned that queer men are in need of emotional spaces, friendships, platonic intimacy since they often have access or platforms available for romantic relationships but not for the latter. So, yes homophobia impacts us all. It doesn’t allow for platonic intimacy or the building of relationships, especially with men, and I’m thinking it’s even more critical with men of color. Also, gay being used as an alternative word for “messed up,” or “weird,” or “strange” is something I definitely still hear at times. I think interrupting those comments, especially as leaders in the community or as staff in 4-H is super critical, because it would ideally try to help youth question why they attach negative associations to the word “gay” and also that being “gay” is fine and it’s a valid identity and just because you don’t identify as such doesn’t mean it’s not valid, normal, and worthy of respect.
Sometimes the result is suicide, with people who cannot accept themselves, or maybe they’re afraid. In the 4-H camp, I met a child. I spoke with him in the last 4-H camp. He told me he never left his room. He was very quiet. His room was very dark, and he wore all black. He said, “Because I don’t want to leave the room.” He doesn’t want to accept himself; he is gay. His parents told him, “You don’t you have a girlfriend?” He’s very scared. I told him the story of another child, and that there was nothing wrong with being the way he was. I tried to help him. I told him we are all human beings deserving the same respect. He told me his parents asked him if he was gay, that he said, “No, no, no!” He wants to try to become a leader in the next camp, and I told him to try hard (“hechale ganas”). I think that’s why they commit suicide, because they don’t want to accept themselves due to fear… and sometimes they harm themselves. (Latinx Parent, CAB)
Teachers have a lot to do with it [social isolation] because they don’t pay attention to students in case there is bullying against a gay or any other person. Teachers need to do a better job of observing young people…and of explaining that if they feel threatened by something, they can trust them and nothing bad will happen. I heard about a mom that felt she had to send her kid back to Mexico because he was bullied for not being born here…So… imagine those who are gay, and that are not heard in schools. If they go to their parents, their parents are working and little involved, that’s why they go as far as committing suicide, because they are not heard by each other or by anyone else, they are isolated. (Latinx Parent, CAB)
Stereotypes are perpetuated by people in power and people who benefit from these stories often even Latinx people, too. It deliberately erases people’s unique lived experiences---but more so Black Latinx, Afro Latinx, Afro-Mexican, Afro-Indigenous, and Indigenous people of Latin America… At the 4-H summer camps there is hesitancy to discuss how Latinx youth can perpetuate racism… I know one youth came up to me and said “but, I don’t get it…” and “also, why is this relevant/necessary---racism doesn’t hurt me” This youth was not only white passing but also identified/most likely still identifies as a cisgender heterosexual young Latinx man… We had Indigenous youth from Oaxaca, MX whose Spanish was their second language and they were learning English. We had immigrant Black Colombian youth who had recently immigrated to Salem, Oregon and who didn’t speak English to the level that they felt comfortable with… There were definitely moments that I witnessed othering and tried to find ways to talk about it--but it was challenging. The dominant group was definitely migrant Mexican-American youth... How do we unpack that? How do we bring in stories? How do we talk about power and privilege--how do we help frame privilege as a responsibility to reflect, to give space, to speak up if needed? In light of what is a big conversation around police brutality and Black Lives Matter, Latinx people are not exempt from these topics. We need to talk about anti-Blackness and the contributions/the deep roots of Africa in Latin America. The story of who we are involves all of us--colonization and slavery still impact our lives--past and present.

4.2.2. Within Broader Community and Healthcare Settings

Safe and brave community spaces.

Living in a more rural area of Oregon, a predominantly White state, there are few spaces for Latinos to gather socially and even fewer for LGBTQ people. Spaces for Latinx LGBTQ people are almost nonexistent. Latinx events are sometimes homophobic and LGBTQ events are always predominantly White and male. This can make it hard to find peers with similar identities. In my experience, it’s often difficult for LGBTQ Latinx to find acceptance from their families and Latino communities because of stricter cultural norms around gender and sexuality as well as homophobia from religion. I have also found that Latinx identity is not always celebrated or acknowledged in predominantly White academic environments. LGBTQ events for younger groups as well as Latinx cultural celebrations and groups such as a GSA (gay straight alliance) and ALAS (Latin American student groups) gave me and others a place to meet and create relationships with other Latinx LGBTQ groups. (Latinx LGBTQ+ youth, CAB)

Affirming Sexuality Education

When you’re in high school and middle school you only learn about straight sex and that closes so many doors already in terms of everything, everything! Growing up gay and not even knowing what gay stands for or what sex is... You just don’t get the same treatment obviously as everyone else… Shows you like this kind of space isn’t for you. Like this curriculum isn’t for you. You have to learn this stuff on your own. You have to go online. You have to ask somebody. But as kids you aren’t going to ask your parents; chances are, you are not out to your parents, maybe you don’t even know your identity. You just know I don’t like the opposite gender or whatever gender. It makes kids feel like isolated. Just isolated in another way. I don’t get to learn about my life, my risks, and any of that stuff. (Latinx LGBTQ+ Youth, CAB)
Latino communities can also not be so accepting of LGBTQ+ Latinx folks, because especially in families, it’s disguised as concerned for your safety and health, and all these other things, which is also a messy thing. It’s fair to be concerned for your loved one and their safety. Know the world is not super accepting of them. But it’s also like kind of controlling. I don’t want you to be who you are because I want you to be happy, I don’t want you getting hurt. That sort of thing…like you can make it try to come off of good intentions but once you get down to the nitty-gritty or down to take off all the layers they can be filled with negative intentions and impact. (Latinx LGBTQ+ Youth, CAB)

Mental Health Services

I think it maybe you have or get to the point to where you think you have the resources to find a therapist or a counselor. Like we’ve already talked about the increased mental issues with LGBTQ. If we are looking at how to solve that… we need more providers with experience. We have a lack of mental health providers in general and then we get to ones who actually who have actually worked with LGBTQ people or youth, and that is very few, especially in the context of rural. Even more so, I tried looking to see how many providers in Corvallis have experience working with a transgender person, and I found one... That is obviously a problem. (Latinx LGBTQ+ Youth, CAB)
There’s a lot of pressure to be macho that I experienced, and I felt a sort of resentment for not living up to that, experiencing the intersectionality of both racism and homophobia/transphobia. I experience a good bit of homophobia from, as I viewed it, religious influence, particularly Catholicism, which was the main religion in my family. To give a direct anecdote from my own experiences, I hid the fact that I was transitioning from my family for a long time. The start of that process involves a lot of appointments, which my mom took note of. I was heading to see a doctor for hormone therapy, and my mom cornered me and asked about the frequent doctors’ visits. The idea of coming out was extremely uncomfortable. I continued to hide my identity from friends and family out of fear. I eventually came out, but became homeless not long after because of it. (Transfemme, 22-year-old)
A 16-year-old, bisexual femme identified youth was afraid to access mental health services due to her mother being religious— forcing her to “come out” to access a counselor or explaining the need to her parents. In addition, the stigma of going to counseling in the Latinx community. Last time this youth tried to talk to her mom about being bisexual, she told her to wait until she was 18. This youth overheard her brother and mom talking about being gay being a sin. Youth attempted to run away, and her parent overheard her telling the cops, “They won’t accept me because of my sexuality.” The police officer comforted the youth due to the cop also being LGBT and understanding. This youth feels like she should just put off going to counseling and queer groups until she goes to college and moves out. Her older sister who also identifies on the queer spectrum reached out to provide support. But her mother took her phone away for the time being limiting her outings. The youth did go to her school counselor and her older sister helped her make a safety plan, but because she is underage there has been limitations in interactions.

Institutional Culture in Healthcare

A trans Latina woman accessing services in the homeless youth continuum (HYC)…regularly struggles to get her needs met, and is often excluded from services due to various behaviors: staying past closing in shelter, taking “too long” in day-program showers, making sexually explicit comments to staff. Often, she is late due to needing more time to shave, do her hair, apply make-up, etc., so that she can present in a way that feels safe. Additionally, few staff speak Spanish, so she struggles to be understood or connect with staff…
I coordinate all of the volunteers at the [community health clinic for the homeless] kitchen… And volunteers don’t have tons of training with this sort of thing…sometimes don’t understand stuff, especially when it has to do with race stuff, or LGBT stuff or both. And, um, one of the clients that we have is trans [pause] and doesn’t appear to be trans... And so, he just gets misgendered constantly by staff who don’t know better yet…He said that the staff keep misgendering him all of the time because of both the race barrier and the cis-trans barrier, that it’s just not worth it to try and say anything… I bounced around to the volunteers that were working there, and said, “Hey that person over there, not a girl, don’t say things like that to him, he doesn’t like it.” …I’ve had that talk about 100,000 times at this job.
Applying for Oregon Health Plan (OHP, Oregon’s Medicaid program) benefits, youth are not able to understand legal documentation’s language. Not being aware of their legal status, and also not fully understanding other names documentations are called. I’ve noticed asking for any legal documentation scares most of my clients away. Then this fear or anxiety prevents them from accessing benefits/resources. OHP person is not always aware of how triggering a simple question is. In this situation, the client never reached out to me. The benefits specialist did. I am currently navigating the communication between both parties, but many people do not have case managers.

5. Discussion

5.1. reflection and decoding the problem, 5.2. taking action, 5.2.1. 4-h youth development programs, 5.2.2. safe and brave spaces, 5.2.3. affirming sexuality education, 5.2.4. affirming mental health and other healthcare contexts, 6. conclusions, author contributions, institutional review board statement, informed consent statement, data availability statement, acknowledgments, conflicts of interest.

Share and Cite

Vargas, N.; Clark, J.L.; Estrada, I.A.; De La Torre, C.; Yosha, N.; Magaña Alvarez, M.; Parker, R.G.; Garcia, J. Critical Consciousness for Connectivity: Decoding Social Isolation Experienced by Latinx and LGBTQ+ Youth Using a Multi-Stakeholder Approach to Health Equity. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022 , 19 , 11080. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191711080

Vargas N, Clark JL, Estrada IA, De La Torre C, Yosha N, Magaña Alvarez M, Parker RG, Garcia J. Critical Consciousness for Connectivity: Decoding Social Isolation Experienced by Latinx and LGBTQ+ Youth Using a Multi-Stakeholder Approach to Health Equity. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health . 2022; 19(17):11080. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191711080

Vargas, Nancy, Jesse L. Clark, Ivan A. Estrada, Cynthia De La Torre, Nili Yosha, Mario Magaña Alvarez, Richard G. Parker, and Jonathan Garcia. 2022. "Critical Consciousness for Connectivity: Decoding Social Isolation Experienced by Latinx and LGBTQ+ Youth Using a Multi-Stakeholder Approach to Health Equity" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 19, no. 17: 11080. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191711080

Article Metrics

Article access statistics, further information, mdpi initiatives, follow mdpi.


Subscribe to receive issue release notifications and newsletters from MDPI journals

critical consciousness by paulo freire

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Paulo freire (1921—1997).


Paulo Freire was one of the most influential philosophers of education of the twentieth century. He worked wholeheartedly to help people both through his philosophy and his practice of critical pedagogy. A native of Brazil, Freire’s goal was to eradicate illiteracy among people from previously colonized countries and continents. His insights were rooted in the social and political realities of the children and grandchildren of former slaves. His ideas, life, and work served to ameliorate the living conditions of oppressed people.

This article examines key events in Freire’s life, as well as his ideas regarding pedagogy and political philosophy. In particular, it examines conscientização, critical pedagogy, Freire’s criticism of the banking model of education, and the process of internalization of one’s oppressors. As a humanist, Freire defended the theses that: (a) it is every person’s ontological vocation to become more human; (b) both the oppressor and the oppressed are diminished in their humanity when their relationship is characterized by oppressive dynamics; (c) through the process of conscientização, the oppressors and oppressed can come to understand their own power; and (d) ultimately the oppressed will be able to authentically change their circumstances only if their intentions and actions are consistent with their goal.

Table of Contents

1. Colonized Brazil

In order to better understand Paulo Freire’s ideas and his work, it is important to consider the context from which Freire developed his philosophy. Freire’s context was the North Eastern region of Brazil from the 1930s through the 1960s. Brazil was a Portuguese colony from 1500 to 1822. As was the case with other American colonies, most of the Indigenous people of Brazil perished due to the harsh, forced labor conditions and because they did not have any immunity to European diseases. Some of the natives who survived were enslaved in engenhos (sugar mills). Since most of the Indigenous population died, the owners of the engenhos engaged in the practice of buying African people as slaves to work and to increase the production of sugar, which was one of the main Brazilian exports during the years Brazil was a Portuguese colony.

Most of the Brazilian population during the years of Portuguese colonization was of Indigenous and African descent. There was very little movement of Portuguese immigrants into Brazil. To the Portuguese, Brazil was primarily a commercial enterprise that allowed them to exploit the Brazilian resources in order to rival England and Holland economically. Newspapers were not published in Brazil until 1808, and literacy among the vast majority of Brazilians was simply nonexistent.

Freire’s life and work continues to ameliorate the aftermath of 400 years of colonization and slavery in the American continent. Slavery was officially abolished in Brazil in 1888 when Brazil experienced a period of economic growth after its independence from Portugal in 1822. However, even during the mid-20th century, the economic conditions for many Brazilians were so negative and the hunger they experienced so unbearable that many farmers sold themselves or members of their families into slavery in order to avoid starving.

2. Early Years

Paulo Reglus Neves Freire was born in Recife in 1921. Freire experienced firsthand the political instability as well as the economic hardships of the 1930s. Freire’s father died during the economic depression of the thirties, and as a young child, Freire came to know the crippling and dehumanizing effects of hunger. Young Freire saw himself being forced by the circumstances to steal food for his family, and he ultimately dropped out of elementary school to work and help his family financially. It was through these hardships that Freire developed his unyielding sense of solidarity with the poor. From childhood on, Freire made a conscious commitment to work in order to improve the conditions of marginalized people.

Freire managed to finish elementary school between Recife and Jaboatão and later attended the secondary school, Oswaldo Cruz, in Recife. Aluízio Pessoa de Araújo, the principal of Oswaldo Cruz secondary school, agreed to allow Freire to study at a reduced tuition because Freire’s family could not afford to pay the full tuition. To reciprocate the favor, Freire began to teach Portuguese classes at Oswaldo Cruz in 1942. Freire then went on to study law at Recife’s School of Law from 1943 to 1947.

3. Influences on Freire

Paulo Freire’s thought and work were primarily influenced by his historical context, the history of Brazil, and his own experiences. Some of the early and lasting influences on Freire were his parents, his preschool teacher, and Aluízio Pessoa de Araújo, the principal of Oswaldo Cruz secondary school. The ideas that contributed to the development of Freire’s philosophy and work are existentialism, phenomenology, humanism, Marxism, and Christianity. The ideas of G. W. F. Hegel, Karl Marx, Anísio Teixeira, John Dewey, Albert Memmi, Erich Fromm, Frantz Fanon, and Antonio Gramsci were Freire’s major influences.

Freire learned tolerance and love from his parents. Freire’s father died in 1934 due to complications from arterial sclerosis. Freire was 13 years old. Freire’s mother assumed the responsibility of providing for her four children. Even though Freire’s childhood was not an easy one due to the death of his father and the economic conditions of the 1930s, Freire’s parents had created an environment of tolerance and understanding in his home.

Eunice Vasconcelos was Freire’s preschool teacher, and she greatly influenced his understanding of school and learning. Because of this experience, Freire came to love learning, and he came to see school as a place where one is encouraged to explore one’s curiosity. Another important influence on Freire was Aluízio Pessoa de Araújo. Freire’s mother approached him to ask if young Freire could study at his school. The only problem was that Edeltrudes was not able to pay for Freire’s tuition. He accepted Freire into the school anyway because he was committed to teaching for the sake of helping people, and this proved to be a lasting influence on Freire.

Freire’s thought was deeply influenced by a number of G. W. F. Hegel’s ideas. Most notably are Hegel’s process metaphysics, social ethics, phenomenology, and the tension of the master versus slave dialectic. Throughout his writings, Freire makes the claim that the ontological vocation of all human beings is to become more human. While many of Freire’s readers and critics speculate that Freire assumes a substance metaphysics that reifies some types of human nature, other interpretations assume a Hegelian process metaphysics. If we assume the validity of this latter interpretation, then just as the unfolding of history culminates in Absolute Spirit for Hegel, similarly with Freire, it is the process of becoming that is important. Freire was also influenced by Hegel’s communitarianism and worked with individual students always with the aim of benefiting the community as a whole. Freire understood the importance of empowering individuals (positive rights) and protecting them (negative rights), which is a consequence of Freire’s understanding of the role, importance, and commitment to the betterment of the community. Freire also adopted phenomenology as his preferred method for not only making sense of his context, but also for figuring out a way to help his students learn about their own contexts. The emphasis on subjectivity from phenomenology was used by Freire to help his students understand their own realities through their learning of language, or as Freire called it, “the word,” and to learn together how to speak their word. Hegel’s tension of the master versus slave dialectic became for Freire the tension between the oppressor and the oppressed.

Karl Marx’s ideas were foremost influential on Freire’s own philosophy. Among the ideas from Marx that influenced Freire are Marx’s class consciousness, his concept of labor, and false consciousness. For Marx, when a person gains awareness of their class consciousness, they become cognizant of their economic place in their society and thus of their class interests. Freire’s concept of conscientização points to the process of becoming aware not only of one’s class, but also more broadly of the roles one’s race, gender, physical ability, and so forth play in our society. Freire, like Marx, believed that it is through our work that humans can change the world. Whether Freire’s students were construction workers, janitors, factory workers, or shoemakers, Freire used their work and the words for their tools both to teach them how to read and write as well as to share with his students how each of them transformed the world and made their world through their work. Just as Marx pointed to the spiritual loss from alienated labor that workers experienced, likewise Freire aimed to prevent this loss and restore human dignity to the work of his students by sharing with them the transformative power of their work. What Freire refers to as the internalization of a master has its basis in Marx’s concept of false consciousness. For Marx, false consciousness takes place whenever a member of the proletariat mistakenly believes that they are not being exploited, or that by working harder, they will some day gain economic stability and freedom. For Freire, Marx’s false consciousness takes place when the oppressed internalizes the ideology of the oppressor.

Freire was also influenced by Anísio Teixeira’s work and philosophy. Teixeira’s work called for the democratization of the Brazilian society through education. Teixeira opposed the education of his time, which was exclusive to the upper classes and thus promoted a social elitism that left the majority of Brazilians without access to education. Teixeira worked toward establishing a free, public, secular education that would be accessible for everyone. Freire was moved by Teixeira’s questioning of why the average Brazilian did not embrace a democratic spirit, and both Teixeira and Freire agreed this was due to the traditionally hierarchical and authoritarian ways in which people had related to each other during the time that Brazil had been a Portuguese colony, and afterward while slavery continued being an institution in Brazil. Freire, like Teixeira, believed and worked toward the possibility of developing a democratic sensibility through education.

John Dewey’s philosophy of education was another influence on Freire’s philosophy and work, particularly in the classroom dynamics, and the dynamic between the teacher and the students. Teixeira had been a student of Dewey, and the importance of fostering a democratic sensibility through education became central to Freire. Freire believed the classroom was a place where social change could take place. Freire, like Dewey, believed that each student should play an active role in their own learning, instead of being the passive recipients of knowledge. Consequently, Dewey and Freire both agreed that the ideal teacher would be open-minded and confident—confident in their competence while also open-minded to sharing and learning from his or her students. Both Dewey and Freire were critical of teachers whose dispositions were undemocratic, who transmitted information from the expert to the student, and who lacked curiosity and confidence to continue learning from their students.

Existentialism was another significant influence on Freire’s philosophy. Freire believed that human beings are free to choose and thus responsible for their choices. While on one hand, Freire did very much take into account the historical context created by the legacy of slavery in Brazil, he never believed the historical conditions determined the future for him, his students, or Brazilian society. On the contrary, Freire espoused the existential belief that humans need not be determined by the past. When Freire taught literacy classes, he not only taught his students how to read and write. Freire shared conscientização and, with this, the awareness that his students were free to choose the life they created for themselves.

Erich Fromm’s ideas also helped Freire discern how to bring about human liberation vis a vis the dominant ideology of Brazil at the time. Before Critical Theory, human reason was interpreted to be our source of rational, autonomous choices and enlightened dialogue. Marx problematized this assumption, however, when he pointed to false consciousness as one of the ways through which the dominant ideology becomes an instrument of domination that controls human choices and promotes alienation. Freire relied on Fromm’s understanding of human freedom and Fromm’s discussion of control to come to his own understanding of the dynamic between the oppressors and the oppressed. Like the existentialists before him, Fromm advocated the creation of human values instead of following pre-established and unquestioned norms. Freire was influenced by Fromm’s understanding of freedom to develop the liberatory praxis of critical pedagogy whereby the people in the classroom contributed to each other’s conscientização and thus embrace and claim their own freedom. In order to explain the difference between humanism and humanitarianism, Freire used the biophilic and necrophilic concepts from Fromm. In his book The Heart of Man (1967), Fromm distinguishes between two types of approaches to helping others. One approach is to feel the need to control the situation and the people who are being helped. The other approach is to allow the situation and the people to be what they potentially may be. Fromm characterizes the people who feel the need to control as necrophilic because in their need to control other people and the events in life itself, they deny people and life of their own possibilities. According to Fromm, those who are able to allow other people and events to unfold into what they may become are characterized as being biophilic because they respect the freedom and creativity of human beings and trust in the unfolding of life’s events.

The ideas of Albert Memmi and Frantz Fanon helped Freire to make sense first of the Brazilian and then the Latin American, African, and Asian colonized experience. Although Freire was deeply influenced by Marx’s analysis of economic classes, the Brazilian and Latin American histories could not be understood by class analysis alone due to the history of colonization and slavery. Freire agreed with Memmi that the primary reason for colonization was economic. Freire believed there were two reasons why the literacy rate was so low in northeastern Brazil. The first was because the Portuguese were primarily concerned with the economic exploitation of Brazil and its people. As was the case in other Latin American countries, Catholic priests did educate some of the people and advanced to some degree the interests of the natives; however, according to Freire’s understanding, and influenced by Memmi, the colonization of Brazil was first and foremost an economic endeavor. The exploitation of the land’s resources and the people’s labor through the institution of slavery and the aftermath of slavery was the second reason the literacy rate was extremely low. In agreement with Teixeira, Freire believed the lack of democratic sensibility and education in Brazil was precisely due to the history of colonization in Brazil.

Besides Memmi, Fanon was deeply influential in Freire’s understanding of the colonized experience. Perhaps the most salient influence of Fanon on Freire was Fanon’s idea that the oppressed must be actively engaged at every step of gaining their own freedom. In other words, the oppressed cannot and should not be liberated by anyone other than themselves. Fanon’s discussion of language, in his case the difference between “proper French” and his Creole French, also influenced Freire’s understanding and teaching of Portuguese in such a way that Freire always acknowledged the legitimacy of his students’ way of speaking the Portuguese language.

Freire’s philosophical development was also influenced by several of Antonio Gramsci’s ideas. Gramsci’s idea of the organic intellectual influenced Freire to believe in the importance of educating and fostering the development of his working-class students. Influenced by Fanon and Gramsci, Freire was committed to the idea and practice of legitimizing the experiences and knowledge of his students so that organic intellectuals would emerge. These organic intellectuals would in turn be in the best position to contribute to the solutions of the community’s problems since they would know their community, the intricacies of their context, and their problems and solutions better than any expert who had studied the problem merely academically.

Equally important to the theoretical influences here mentioned was the spiritual influence that Christianity had on Freire’s philosophy. Freire was particularly influenced by liberation theology as it developed in Latin America. Liberation theology prioritized fighting poverty, political activism, practice, and social justice. Freire’s philosophy was very much in line with the grassroots, bottom-up organization of liberation theology, which emphasized the importance of practicing the teachings of Jesus Christ instead of obediently following the established orthodox church hierarchy.

4. Literacy Campaign

Paulo Freire began to work with illiterate peasants and workers in the northeastern region of Brazil in 1947, and by the beginning of the 1960s, he had organized a popular movement to eradicate illiteracy. Due to the Portuguese colonization of Brazil, as well as the institution of slavery, the literacy level of most Brazilians was extremely low. The population of the northeastern region of Brazil in 1962 was 25 million, and of these, approximately 15 million were illiterate.

In 1947, when Freire was 26 years old and while he was still teaching language classes at Oswaldo Cruz secondary school, he began to work at the government agency called the Serviço Social da Indústria (SESI). He was appointed to work as an assistant in the Division of Public Relations, Education and Culture. The goal of this agency was to provide social services in the areas of health, housing, education, and leisure for the Brazilian working class.

Freire worked at SESI for 10 years, and during this time, he learned many important aspects about the Brazilian working class and Brazilian school system that informed how he would later develop as a teacher and political thinker. Freire worked closely with the schools, examining how policy was made and how it affected the quality of education for the students. It was during this time that Freire noticed how some of the Brazilian working-class parents were raising their children. Although Freire had been brought up in a tolerant environment, this was not the case in most other homes. Freire came to SESI with a democratic sensibility, however, he was met with what seemed to be a type of conditioned authoritarianism that affected how parents related to their children and how teachers approached their teaching. Physical punishment toward children was often used both by parents as well as teachers. Freire noticed that the harsh physical punishment the children were subjected to did not serve the intended purpose; instead, children were alienated from their parents and teachers, and an environment of harsh authoritarianism was more firmly established. Consequently, Freire began training teachers and parents to learn more tolerant ways of teaching and disciplining their children.

During the 10 years that Freire worked for SESI, he gathered many experiences that would later help him shape his doctoral studies and dissertation at the University of Recife. After his work for SESI, Freire accepted a position as a consultant for the Division of Research and Planning. It was during this time that Freire began to establish himself as a progressive educator. He conducted studies in adult education and marginal populations and presented these at national adult education conferences. His early ideas were of cooperative decision-making, social participation, and political responsibility.  Freire did not see education as merely a way to master academic standards or skills that would help a person professionally. Instead, he cared that learners understood their social problems and that they discovered themselves as creative agents. In 1959, Freire completed his doctoral dissertation titled Educacåo e Actualidade Brazileira ( Present-day Education in Brazil ).

In 1961, the mayor of Recife, Miguel Arraes, asked Freire to help develop literacy programs for the city. The goal of these programs was primarily to encourage literacy among the working class, to foster a democratic climate, and to preserve their Indigenous traditions, beliefs, and culture. It was during this time that Freire began to work with his cultural circles and found out just how damaging and pervasive the institution of slavery continued to be, even decades after slavery had been abolished.

Freire decided to use the name “cultural circles” instead of literacy classes. He had several reasons for this choice of words, and one reason was the negative connotation of the word “illiterate.” Although most of his students were, as a matter of fact, illiterate, no one wanted to describe or think of themselves as such. Another reason was that Freire’s project did not focus solely on teaching people how to read and write. At the time, literacy was one of the requirements for voting in presidential elections, and Freire meant to create a sense of political awareness by the methods he used to teach as well as the content he shared with his students.

The teachers of the cultural circles were deliberately not called teachers, but rather coordinators, and the students were instead called participants. Instead of traditional lectures, dialogue was encouraged. Freire chose not to use the traditional language primers because their content was often irrelevant to the cultural context of the peasants and the workers he taught. Instead, Freire began with the existential conditions of the learners. Of the coordinators, Freire required that they be driven by love, be guided by humility, and have great faith in the human potential. Freire asked that the coordinators consider education as a vehicle for liberation instead of domestication.

Also in 1961, João Goulart assumed the presidency of Brazil. Goulart was a populist leader, so when he was elected, many student groups, unions, and peasant leagues began to emerge. At the same time, a communist presence was more clearly felt in Brazil. It was partly because of these events that Freire transferred the cultural circles from the city of Recife to the Cultural Extension Service (SEC) in the University of Recife. From June of 1963 to March of 1964, Freire and his team trained college students and others who were interested on how to work with adult literacy learners. Freire planned to reach as much of Brazil as he could by establishing more than 20,000 cultural circles around the country. Freire’s plan was to teach five million adult learners within a two-year period how to read and write.

On April 1, 1964, a military coup that was supported by the CIA overthrew the Goulart administration. The mayor of Recife, Pelópidas Silveira, was arrested, Freire was discharged from his position, and all of Freire’s teaching materials were confiscated. Freire was subjected to a series of interrogations and accused of being a communist. He spent 75 days in jail, where he began to write his first book Educação como Practica da Liberdade (Education as the Practice of Freedom). The new military regime deemed Freire’s literacy project as subversive and stopped the funding for the project. Freire and his family were exiled from Brazil from 1964 to 1980. They first lived in Bolivia, then in Chile, where Freire continued his literacy project with Chilean farmers.

In the process of working with both Brazilian and Chilean peasants, Freire realized that even though people were no longer enslaved and had learned how to read and write, and in some cases were the owners of their own land, they did not consider themselves as being free. With this insight, one of Freire’s lifelong goals became to create the circumstances for his students to discover themselves as human beings, with their own agency as subjects and not objects, as members of a community, and as the creators of culture.

5. Philosophical Contributions

A. critical pedagogy versus the banking model of education.

Paulo Freire’s philosophical views grew from his experiences as a teacher and the interactions he had with his students. Rather than continuing with the established cultural patterns of relating to people through a hierarchy of power, Freire’s starting point in the classroom aims to undermine the power dynamics that hold some people above others. Freire emphasizes that a democratic relationship between the teacher and her students is necessary in order for the conscientização process to take place.

Freire’s critical pedagogy, or problem-posing education, uses a democratic approach in order to reach the democratic ideal, and, in this sense, the goal and the process are consistent. He explains how the teacher who intends to hold herself at some higher level of power than that of her students, and who does not admit to her own fallible nature and ignorance, places herself in rigid and deadlocked positions. She pretends to be the one who knows while the students are the ones who do not know. The rigidity of holding this type of power dynamic negates education as a process of inquiry and of knowledge gained.

Freire is very critical of teachers who see themselves as the sole possessors of knowledge while they see their students as empty receptacles into which teachers must deposit their knowledge. He calls this pedagogical approach the “banking method” of education. This pedagogical approach is similar to the process of colonization, given that the colonizing culture thinks of itself as the correct and valuable culture, while the colonized culture is deemed as inferior and in need of the colonizing culture for its own betterment. The banking method is a violent way to treat students because students are human beings with their own inclinations and legitimate ways of thinking. The banking method treats students as though they were things instead of human beings.

Instead of the banking method, Freire proposes a reciprocal relationship between the teacher and the students in a democratic environment that allows everyone to learn from each other. The banking method of education is characterized as a vertical relationship:

teacher ↓ student

The relationship developed through the banking method between the teacher and the students is characterized by insecurity, suspicion of one another, the teacher’s need to maintain control, and power dynamics within a hierarchy that are oppressive. The critical pedagogy that Freire proposes allows for a horizontal type of relationship:

teacher ↔ student

This relationship is democratic insofar as both the teacher and the student are willing and open to the possibility of learning from each other. With this type of relationship, no one is above anyone, and there is mutual respect. Both the teacher and the student acknowledge that they each have different experiences and expertise to offer to each other so that both can benefit from the other to learn and grow as human beings.

Instead of tacitly promoting oppressive relationships through the banking method of education, Freire chooses the process of critical pedagogy as his pedagogical model. This is because critical pedagogy utilizes dialogue among human beings who are equals rather than oppressive imposition.

Another negative consequence of the banking method is that students are not encouraged, and thus do not learn how to think critically, or to feel confident about thinking for themselves. The relationship between a student and a teacher who uses the banking method is similar to that of a farmer who obeys the orders of his/her boss. As was the case with the peasants with whom Freire worked, when a person’s day-to-day experience is dominated by another person or group of people, most of the dominated people are not capable of developing the ability to think, to question, or to analyze situations for themselves. Instead, their consciousness develops primarily to obey the orders imposed on them.

To promote democratic interactions between people, Freire suggests that teachers problematize the issue being discussed.  When issues or questions are problematized by teachers who work through critical pedagogy, readily made answers are not available.  Students realize that although some questions do have clear-cut answers, many of our deeper questions do not have obvious answers.  When students learn that teachers are human beings just as everyone else, and that teachers do not know everything but that they are also learners, students then feel more confident in their own search for answers and more comfortable to critically raise questions of their own.  The banking method denies the need for dialogue because it assumes that the teacher is the one who possesses all the answers and the students are ignorant and in need of the teachers’ knowledge. In order to problematize a subject, the teacher assumes a humble and open attitude. Given the teacher’s personal example, the students also become open to the possibility of considering the different positions being discussed. This promotes a dynamic of tolerance and democratic awareness because critical pedagogy undermines relationships where some people have power or knowledge, and some do not, and where some people give orders and others obey without questioning. Problematizing promotes dialogue and a sense of critical analysis that allows students to develop the disposition for dialogue not only in the classroom but also outside of it. This is of utmost importance because the disposition and value of dialogue spills over in a positive way to the students’ other relationships, at home, in the work place and in the community.

b. Internalization

Paulo Freire worked with people who came from a context of pervasive historical oppression. Most of his students came from families who had been previously enslaved, and Freire came to understand that abolishing slavery did not automatically mean that people were free. He also realized that teaching people how to read and write so they could vote in Brazilian elections, that is, enabling people through positive rights, was still not enough for people to realize their own freedom and end their oppression. Freire recognized that the oppression of a human being runs much deeper than political institutions and legal guarantees. He discovered that while we may actively seek our freedom, besides the institutional obstacles like colonization and dictatorships, there are also internal obstacles that prevent us from being free. The concept of internalization treated in this section is psychologically deep and rich in meaning.

In order to explain what internalization means, Freire writes about an incident in a Latin American latifundio (plantation) where a group of armed peasants took over the plantation. For tactical reasons they wanted to keep the landowner boss as a hostage. However, not a single peasant was able to keep guard over the boss because his very presence frightened them. Freire speculates that it is possible that the very act of fighting against their boss made the peasants feel guilty. Freire concludes that, in fact, the boss was “inside” them. These peasants had internalized their master. Although the boss was, as a matter of fact, overpowered by the peasants who outnumbered him, and was thus not in the position to give them orders or punish them if the peasants disobeyed, the peasants’ behavior was still driven out of fear of their boss. The freedom of the peasants was not merely contingent upon them physically removing their boss from the plantation, as they had initially believed. These peasants had been thoroughly conditioned to obey orders, to behave in a submissive way, to know and keep their “place,” which they did even when the boss was no longer in power.

Whenever we internalize our oppressors, we behave in the way the oppressor would have us behave even if they were not present. The example that Freire provides is a very telling one, and other common examples would be those of internalized racism or internalized patriarchy. To internalize racism, for instance, means that a racist person need not be present to oppress another—the person who has internalized racism behaves in a way that promotes the power of the oppressor and reifies the oppressive structure. An example of internalized racism in the 21st century would be dark-skinned people promoting whiteness, for instance by using whitening creams. An example of internalized patriarchy may be when a man feels like crying but does not because he does not want to seem weak. All of these are different ways in which people internalize an oppressive structure and then seek freedom and power within that structure. There are many other ways in which we internalize oppressive structures besides racism and patriarchy, such as our nationality, age, patterns of speech, weight, sexuality, or being able-bodied or disabled.

c. Conscientização

As previously mentioned, Paulo Freire worked with people who had been socialized within institutions shaped by the oppression of colonization. It bears repeating that although slavery was formally abolished in 1888, people continued to sell themselves into slavery during Freire’s time. Freire worked with the sons, daughters, and grandchildren of former slaves, and he noticed that the power dynamics of the institution of slavery continued to affect how people saw themselves and how they related to the people around them.

Conscientização is often described as the process of becoming aware of social and political contradictions and then to act against the oppressive elements of our sociopolitical conditions. This entails developing a critical attitude to help us understand and analyze the human relationships through which we discover ourselves. Conscientização usually begins with the individual person becoming aware of her own social context, political context, economic context, gender, social class, sexuality, and race and how these play an important role in the shaping of her reality. The process of conscientização also entails becoming aware of our agency to choose and create our reality.

Harriet Tubman, the African-American abolitionist, is known to have said that she would have freed more slaves, but the problem was that not all of them knew they were slaves. Tubman’s observation captures the heart of conscientização.” When a person or group of people has been socialized within an oppressive system such as slavery or patriarchy, it is often the case that the oppressed internalize the oppression and do not know that they are oppressed. To illustrate, before becoming politically aware, a woman, let us call her Jane, might behave by and within the norms of patriarchy all of her life. If, for instance, Jane applies for a promotion at work and the promotion is denied to her but is instead given to a less qualified and younger woman, Jane’s conscientização regarding sexism and ageism may begin.

Because of their history, socio-political, and economic contexts, the workers and peasants that Freire worked with were often not aware of the extent of their own oppression. Since they had been socialized to obey orders, to perform specific functions, and to not question authority figures, they were discouraged from following their own interests and from thinking for themselves. Freire noticed that his students would often think of themselves as objects instead of subjects and agents with the ability to choose their own destiny.

There are several steps in the process of conscientização. Freire worked with his students in his cultural circles and chose a curriculum that allowed him to help his students become aware of their socio-political realities. Freire began the process by creating the conditions through which his students could realize their own agency. He describes this first step as being able to identify the difference between what it means to be an object (a thing) and a subject (a human being). Once the first step of the process has been taken, namely the recognition of their agency, Freire emphasized to his students how the consequences of their choices did in fact shape their personal history as well as contributed to the creation of human culture. Equally important, Freire also highlighted the fact that every single human being has the ability to change the world for the better through their work. This was very important because it allowed common men and women to see their own self-worth. Given that their dialect, race, work, and culture were constantly demeaned by a system of oppression, Freire affirmed the worth of every person and that person’s work. Freire’s students came to see themselves as the makers of their own destinies, as confident shoemakers and weavers who created art, and whose culture and dialects were important and valuable.

Paulo Freire writes about an instance when he asked his students what the difference was between animals and humans. The answers given to him are troubling and insightful. Before the peasants began the process of conscientização, they of course had the ability to become aware of their own agency, but they had not begun the process of conscientização, so they did not think of themselves as being free. When the students were asked about the difference between animals and humans, one of the peasants in the cultural circles in Chile responded that there was no difference between men and animals, and if there was a difference, animals were better off because animals were freer. According to this peasant, an animal enjoys a greater degree of freedom than a human being.

The peasant’s honest answer is indicative of how he saw himself and the context in which Freire worked. Although they were not legally enslaved, these peasants did not think of themselves as being free agents, as subjects with the option to choose and create their own lives and history. Instead, they saw themselves as objects upon whom orders were imposed, so the animals that were not required to follow orders were freer than them. In other words, for these peasants there was no real difference between them and the beasts of burden used to toil in the fields, unless the animal, a fox or bird for instance, was not used for farm labor. In this case, the animal had a higher degree of freedom than a human being.

These responses are indicative of the fact that the “freedom” of the peasants must be qualified. It is true that technically and politically they were no longer slaves. However, they did not think of themselves as being free human beings with their own agency and the ability to decide for themselves. Through working with the South American peasants in Brazil and Chile, Freire came to see that these peasants were not merely a marginalized group of people, but, worse than this, they saw themselves as existing solely for the benefit of their bosses, not as existing for themselves and for their own sake. Their social context had conditioned them into believing that the purpose of their being was only to benefit their bosses. Their economic and political contexts conditioned them to not see themselves as human beings (subjects), but rather as things or objects that exist merely to serve the bosses’ orders. The problem was not simply that they were illiterate but that they were completely alienated from their own agency. When Freire understood the extent of his students’ oppression, he chose to not only teach them how to read and write but also to create the conditions necessary in the classroom for the students to realize their own agency and come to see themselves as human beings. The process of conscientização is much more than learning a set of habits or skills. It is becoming aware of one’s own agency as a human being.

The concept of “freedom” has many connotations. Freedom may mean being able to move about freely or it may mean not being enslaved, for instance. Freire believed that “freedom” is the right of every human being to become more human. Freire noticed that “freedom” meant something different for the peasants with whom he worked. Freire explained that the peasants he worked with wanted land reform—not to be free, but rather to be able to own their own land and thus become landowners, or more specifically, the bosses of new employees.

Freire wrote how a peasant’s goal is in fact to be a free human being, but for them to be a free human being within the contradictory context in which they had been socialized and which they had clearly not overcome, meant to be an oppressor. Freire writes how the oppressed find in the oppressor their model of “manhood” or their model of humanity, of what it means to be a free person. The peasants had come to equate freedom with the ability to oppress others. This is because the context within which they lived dichotomized the boss as “free,” given that the boss was the one in charge and who commanded the peasants to follow his or her orders. The peasants were in turn dichotomized as not being free because they had no choice but to carry out the boss’s orders. Given this historical context, the only example the peasants had of what it meant to be a free person was the example of an abusive boss. Thus, the peasants came to believe their freedom could be only found by oppressing others.

Having the right to vote, to own property, to free speech, or to an education—though undeniably important—does not mean that a person is free. There are different ways in which people may be free, and freedom is a matter of degree. Contrary to the mainstream Western liberal belief, the fact that we are not enslaved physically does not mean that we are free, and it does not mean that we are not behaving the way our internalized oppressors would have us behave.

Freire adamantly opposed authoritarian relationships, which only cause further oppression. This is not merely for the sake of the oppressed, but also for the sake of the oppressors who become oppressed themselves through the dynamics of oppressive relationships. Freire writes how the fear of freedom is embodied by the oppressors but in a different way than by the oppressed. For the oppressed, the fear of freedom is the fear to assume or own up to their own freedom. For the oppressors, the fear is fear of losing the “freedom” to oppress.

6. Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Pedagogy of the Oppressed is Paulo Freire’s best-known work. He wrote it during his first years of exile from Brazil and published it in 1968. The book was translated into English in 1970. It has been banned and blacklisted numerous times by different governments who find the book to be subversive and dangerous. Among these governments was the South African government during Apartheid. In the United States of America in the 21st century, the book was banned from being taught in public schools in the state of Arizona under House Bill 2281.

Pedagogy of the Oppressed is divided into four chapters, and several important themes are developed throughout the book. Among these themes are how the oppressed and the oppressors are affected by the act of oppression, that liberation is a mutual process, the banking model of education, the incompleteness of human beings, generative themes and the use of cooperation, and unity and organization to liberate the oppressed.

a. Chapter 1

There are several important ideas elaborated in the first chapter of Pedagogy of the Oppressed . All of these ideas are developed throughout the book, and Paulo Freire comes back to these ideas throughout his later books and writings. The first thesis is that the dehumanizing situation under which many people live is not a given destiny but rather the result of unjust systematic oppression that fosters violence in the oppressors and dehumanizes the oppressed. Here, Freire makes one of his central theses, namely, that in their struggle to regain their humanity, the oppressed must not become the oppressors of their oppressors. Freire claims that it is only the oppressed who will be able to liberate both themselves and their oppressors by restoring the humanity of both groups.

Freire warns the oppressed against becoming oppressors on two counts: (1) whether the oppressed gain power and use this power to oppress their previous oppressor; or (2) in the case of the oppressed gaining power over other oppressed people and becoming their oppressors, as they seek their own individual liberation. The danger of a previously oppressed person becoming an oppressor is due to their ambiguous duality. Freire points out that the oppressed are at one and the same time both themselves (the oppressed) and the oppressor, whose consciousness they have internalized. Due to this ambiguous duality and the internalization of their oppressors, the oppressed seek to become like the oppressors and share in their way of life.

In this chapter, Freire also begins his criticism of charity versus social justice. Throughout Pedagogy of the Oppressed as well as throughout the rest of his life, Freire makes a distinction between charity and social justice. If social justice was in fact the existing state of affairs in society, Freire argues, there would be no need for charity. In this first chapter, Freire begins to discuss what he calls a false charity or a false generosity that is displayed by the oppressors toward the oppressed in the form of social programs and aid. However, Freire points out, the dispensers of this false generosity often feel threatened by those they claim they wish to help (the oppressed). This is a theme Freire maintains throughout his writings. Freire explains how the oppressors must perpetuate injustice in order for them to be able to express their false generosity. Freire develops this idea further in chapter four of Pedagogy of the Oppressed and comes back to it in in his Education for Critical Consciousness .

Freire also puts forth the thesis that freedom is acquired by conquest, that a person must claim their own freedom because freedom is not something that can be gifted to a person by another. This is a thesis that Freire continues to develop throughout his life. In this chapter, Freire begins by telling us that, oftentimes, members of the oppressors have a change of heart and seek to cease being exploiters of the oppressed. However, Freire warns us that the heirs of exploitation, due to their origin, almost always bring with them their prejudices. Because of their background, even when they seek to help the oppressed, they mistrust the people’s ability to transform their own circumstances and instead believe that they must be in control of the change that takes place. In other words, they still behave paternalistically and believe to know better than the people they falsely claim to respect.

Freire closes the first chapter of Pedagogy of the Oppressed by emphasizing how the oppressed must be intimately involved in each stage of their liberation. This is because, as he emphasizes, freedom is something each of us must claim for ourselves; freedom is not a gift to be given by some people to others.

b. Chapter 2

The most important idea that Paulo Freire develops in chapter two of Pedagogy of the Oppressed is the distinction between the banking model of education versus a critical pedagogy. Please see section 5a for a detailed explanation of this central Freirean concept and practice.

A central element of Freire’s pedagogy is dialogue, and he emphasizes its importance in this chapter. Freire prefers dialogue to imposition. He writes that it is love and respect that allow us to engage people in dialogue and to discover ourselves in the process. By its nature, dialogue is not something that can be imposed. Instead, genuine dialogue is characterized by respect of the parties involved toward one another. We develop a tolerant sensibility during the dialogue process, and it is only when we come to tolerate the points of view and ways of being of others that we might be able to learn from them and about ourselves in the process.

Freire believes that it is necessary for us to develop our tolerance of others so that all may learn from each other. However, tolerating others does not mean that one has to stop being who one is as one tolerates others’ behavior and ways of thinking. Dialogue and imposition are diametrically opposed approaches to relating to one another. According to Freire, imposition of our views upon others comes from a lack of confidence in our own beliefs. The person who either imposes or attempts to impose her views on others behaves in a life-denying manner insofar as she seeks to control others and insofar as she thinks in absolute terms with predetermined conclusions. Dialogue, on the other hand, comes from a place of tolerance. Dialogue can take place when we are comfortable with and confident in our beliefs and ourselves so that even if others disagree with us, we do not interpret their disagreement to mean that we are wrong. Dialogue is life-affirming and allows people and situations to be what they may become; it understands life and people as developing in an open-ended creative process. Instead of believing that “The Answers” or “The Truth” have already been determined, a person who engages others in dialogue believes that the answers and the truth will emerge as we listen and speak to one another. The control of the process comes through the development of the dialogue itself. Those who impose their views on others are afraid of losing their false sense of control. Dialogue, on the other hand, comes from a place of love, respect, trust, humility, and curiosity, and it assumes remaining open to change, to the tensions caused by uncertainty and the precarious, as well as to the further developments that unfold.

c. Chapter 3

In chapter three of Pedagogy of the Oppressed , Freire continues to develop his thesis on helping. He elaborates on the idea that those who educate, facilitate, or help in any way—be it social workers, research teams from universities, and so forth —must first learn to listen to and work with those whom they are helping. Freire is critical of professionals who have internalized the patterns of institutional domination in which they were socialized so that they come to believe that being in a position of power or having some form of institutional authority allows them to help the oppressed with top-down strategies and means. Freire’s criticism is that these “helpers” have come to believe that they have the right type of knowledge, the expertise, and the answers to what the people they are “helping” need, so that their approach to helping is from those who can and who know to those who have not been able to or who do not know:

Political leader/teacher/researcher/social worker ↓↓ students/community members being helped

The problem with this approach is that those who offer their help and expertise, those who are confident in their good intentions and qualifications, do not always trust that the ones who are the most knowledgeable of the problem and the solutions needed are the same people who need the help.

Relatedly, Freire makes a distinction between humanitarianism and humanism. Although both concepts mean well for the whole of humanity, they are not the same, nor do they achieve the same results. Freire was critical of social movements that pretend to give humanitarian aid. This was because he noticed that what oftentimes happens is that in the process of “helping,” the helpers rob the people being helped of their own agency to improve their own condition. There are ways to help people that promote the autonomy of the person or the group of people being helped and other ways of “helping” that impose our assistance on those who ask for our help. This is an important distinction because a humanitarian approach does not lend itself to dialogue insofar as the person in the helping position claims to know what the person in need of help needs and imposes the help. The humanist respects the person in need of help and offers help in such a way as to enable the person being helped to help herself.

Besides developing his thesis on helping, Freire also elaborates on what he terms “limit situations.” In his cultural circles, Freire began his literacy classes by making use of generative themes and words. These would be words such as tijolo (brick). The word would be broken down into its syllables (ti-jo-lo), then the students would practice enunciating the consonants coupled with vowels (ta, te, ti, to, tu; ja, je, ji, jo, ju; la, le, li, lo, lu) and then combine the syllables to generate new words. Sometimes the generative words would be “land,” “economy,” and “culture,” for instance. The facilitator and the students would not only break down the generative words into syllables, but they would also discuss their meanings. There would be times when, in the process of discussing certain generative words and themes, the class would come to a “limit situation.” These limit situations described a shared problem that the participants of the class and the facilitator, by working together, could overcome, for instance, putting up stop signs at intersections where they were needed.

d. Chapter 4

Paulo Freire is very critical of all liberation and populist movements that deny the oppressed the right to participate in their own liberation. Leaders of revolutionary movements cannot gift freedom upon the oppressed, nor can they temporarily use oppressive means to liberate them after the revolutionary movement comes to an end. Leaders are responsible for coordinating and facilitating dialogue among citizens, but, as Freire points out, leaders who deny the participation of the people they are trying to help effectively undermine their very goal to help.

Besides insisting that the solutions we seek come from problems rooted in our experience, Freire motions us toward adopting a pluralistic sensibility that respects the “other,” given that there is more than one way of being. A pluralistic sensibility is manifested through the tolerance we exercise during any dialogue. Democratic interactions are based on a type of faith in humanity, in the belief that all are able to discuss their problems, that is, the problems of their country, continent, world, work, and of democracy itself. In order to engage and be engaged by others in dialogue, it is necessary that we cultivate a sensibility of confidence, humility, and willingness to risk loving others and that we allow others to be who they are. Genuine dialogue is not possible without these values. Freire did not pretend to have any solutions other than to suggest that an open-ended dialogue could lead us to have a more just and humane world.

7. Exile Years

Paulo Freire lived in exile from 1964 to 1980 in Bolivia, Chile, the U. S. A., and Switzerland. Bolivia was the first country where Freire lived in exile from Brazil, but he only stayed in Bolivia for a brief time. Given that Freire had lived his whole life at sea level, the high altitude of the Andes did not settle well with him, and he had a very difficult time adjusting to the altitude of La Paz. Shortly after his arrival in Bolivia, a coup overthrew the administration of Victor Paz Estenssoro. Due to the political climate and the high altitude, Freire sought political asylum in Chile, where he lived from 1964 to 1969.

The five years that Freire lived in Chile proved to be very fruitful in terms of his writing and research. Freire was also able to continue and make advances with his work on literacy. Freire worked for the Instituto de Desarrollo Agropecuario (Institute for the Development of Agriculture) and with the University of Chile with the Department of Special Planning for the Education of Adults. Freire’s literacy model was successfully adopted, and this led Freire to participate in the Chilean agrarian reform effort. At this time, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) approached Freire to become a consultant, and Freire continued to assist the organization of cultural circles throughout Chile.

The five years that Freire lived in Chile were very good years for him and his family. The Chilean people came to love Freire and made him feel welcome. Working with the Chilean peasants was also very helpful to Freire insofar as his experiences with them allowed him to notice differences between the illiterate peasants in Brazil and Chile. Although their histories were similar, they were not the same people, and so Freire came to understand the experience of the oppressed more fully by also working with the Chilean peasants.

It was during his time in Chile that Freire was able to complete the manuscript of his first book, Educação como Prática da Liberdade (Education as the Practice of Freedom), which was published in 1967 in Rio de Janeiro. Freire was also able to write the manuscript of Pedagogy of the Oppressed based on his experiences in Brazil and Chile. Pedagogy of the Oppressed was first published in Spanish in 1968, and because of the political climate in Brazil, the book had to wait until 1975 to be published in Portuguese. By this time, Pedagogy of the Oppressed had already been translated to English, Italian, French, and German.

In 1968, Freire received invitations from Harvard University and the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Geneva Switzerland. He made the agreement to go to Harvard first and then to Geneva, departing from Chile in 1969 to live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, from April 1969 to February 1970. He taught at Harvard’s Center for the Study of Change and Social Development. During Freire’s time at Harvard, he worked as a visiting professor and gave lectures and conferences. He also published “The Adult Literacy Process as Cultural Action for Freedom” and “Cultural Action and Conscientization” in the Harvard Educational Review . These were later published as the monograph titled Cultural Action for Freedom in 1972.

Freire’s time in the U. S. A. allowed him to experience racism and discrimination first-hand as he saw the way people had to make do in the low-income housing and ghettos of New York City. These experiences, like the ones he had with the Chilean peasants, added to his Brazilian experiences and broadened his vision regarding the struggles of the oppressed. He understood that the third world and first world categories were not so clear cut, but rather that poverty and oppression could be found in developed countries as well.

After his time in the U. S. A., Freire lived in Switzerland, from 1970 until his return to Brazil in 1980. Freire worked for the World Council of Churches (WCC) as a consultant for the Office of Education and popular educational reform. In 1971, Freire, in collaboration with other Brazilian exiles, formed the Institute of Cultural Action (IDAC) in Geneva. The goal of IDAC was to bring about a pedagogical practice that brought awareness to the political dimensions of pedagogy. Through his involvement with the WCC and IDAC, Freire traveled to and worked in South and Central America, Africa, Australia, the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and North America.

Because of Freire’s deep interest in and empathy toward colonized countries, he followed closely the liberation struggles of African countries, specifically Mozambique, Angola, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Guinea-Bissau. In 1975, the newly formed government of Guinea-Bissau invited Freire to help them organize a literacy campaign. Guinea-Bissau had been colonized by the Portuguese since 1440, and by 1975 they had a 90 percent adult illiteracy rate.

8. Return to Brazil

Paulo Freire lived in exile for close to 16 years, from 1964 to 1980. Upon his return to Brazil, he continued his work as an educator until his death in 1997. From 1980 to 1990, he worked at the Universidad de Campinas (UNICAMP) and as a professor in the Postgraduate Education program at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo (PUC-SP). In 1987, he was re-instated as Senior Professor at the Federal University of Pernambuco; however, Freire immediately retired from this position in order to make space for the younger generation of professors. At that time, Freire became Professor Emeritus at the Federal University of Pernambuco.

In 1980, Freire was intimately involved in founding the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) (Worker’s Party). This political party challenged the military rule and promoted democracy in Brazil. In 1989, Freire accepted an invitation to become the Secretary of Education for the city of São Paulo. During this time, São Paulo had 12 million people, with 720,000 students in 654 schools K-8. He served as Secretary of Education for two years, until May 1991. During this time, Freire began working toward improving the structural conditions of the buildings where the schools were housed. Besides the physical structures of the schools, he also worked to reform the schools’ curriculum in order to move toward engendering a school environment where students would be happy to learn and teachers would be encouraged to value the students’ backgrounds, cultures, values, interests, and languages. Freire was very sensitive to language discrimination, and he worked toward creating an environment where children would not be alienated due to their non-standard Portuguese dialects, ways of speaking, and syntax. After his retirement as Secretary of Education, Freire continued with his writing projects and went back to teaching in the Supervision and Curriculum graduate program at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo.

In October 1986, Elza, Freire’s wife and companion of 42 years, passed away due to cardiac failure. Freire was deeply affected by the loss of his wife and struggled with depression and grief. The following year, Freire began to slowly reengage himself with his work. He began to work as a consultant for UNICEF and resumed his teaching duties at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo. He also attended a symposium in Los Angeles to commemorate Elza’s life. There he met the educator and social activist Myles Horton, with whom Freire would collaborate to write the book We Make the Road by Walking: Conversations on Education and Social Change (1990). Collaborating on this book with Horton allowed Freire to reengage himself with his writing and eased the pain of losing his wife.

Two years after Elza’s death, Freire married Ana Maria (Nita) Araújo Hasche. Nita’s father was Dr. Aluízio Araújo, the principal of Oswaldo Cruz secondary school, where Freire had been allowed to study at a reduced tuition when he was a young man. Nita and Freire had known each other since then, and years later Freire served as one of Nita’s doctoral dissertation advisors at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo. An accomplished scholar in her own right, Nita contributed significantly to Freire’s later work and has continued to carry Freire’s vision forward, publishing several of his writings posthumously. Nita and Freire lived, loved, and worked happily until Freire passed away due to heart failure on May 2, 1997. He was 75 years old.

9. Working Assumptions

Besides the main philosophical contributions that were explored in section 5, Paulo Freire also thought about and developed other important ideas. These ideas are the working assumptions without which Freire’s work would not have been able to be developed. Although these ideas are just as important as his main philosophical contributions, these ideas are not usually given as much attention by Freire scholars. This section will briefly explain Freire’s working assumptions, namely, his view of human nature, authenticity, dialogue, and love.

Freire believed, as he often wrote, that the ontological vocation of every human being is to become more human. He believed that every person is always a work in progress, unfinished and open to further growth. This idea plays a central role vis a vis his other ideas because Freire worked from the assumption that people could change, learn, and grow to become better, more humane human beings. Freire’s idea of human nature allowed him to articulate his ideas regarding hope, which he believed was grounded on human beings’ incompleteness, beings who are unfinished and always in the process of becoming.

Another idea that played a central role in Freire’s philosophy was that of authenticity. Freire understood that the oppression the people he worked with had experienced had stunted their ability to live authentic lives and relate to the people around them in authentic ways. Especially at the beginning of his work, Freire noticed how many of the peasants he worked with had a deterministic view of history and their socioeconomic and political situations. Part of Freire’s goal was to help his students realize that their reality was not determined, but rather that history is made by one’s choices.

As mentioned, Freire observed that when a person internalizes an oppressor, it is difficult for her to be authentic. This is because when we internalize or host an oppressor, our intentions are split between our desire for freedom and the oppressive tendencies we have internalized, which means that we may feel the need to compete or oppress others in order for us to get ahead. Alienated from ourselves, our work, and other people, and due to the dehumanizing social structures that promote non-democratic relationships, living an inauthentic life may lead us to feel anxiety and potential meaninglessness.

Dialogue is another central working assumption for Freire, who encouraged people to be open, tolerant, and willing to learning from each other. For Freire, dialogue meant the presence of equality, mutual recognition, affirmation of people, a sense of solidarity with people, and remaining open to questions. Freire wrote in length about dialogue and dialogic relationships, which he characterized as loving, humble, hopeful, and exhibiting faith in humanity. Dialogue is the basis for critical and problem-posing pedagogy, as opposed to banking education, where there is no discussion and only the imposition of the teacher’s ideas on the students.

Love is perhaps the most central working assumption that Freire develops and continues to come back to throughout his many years of work. In a video documentary, Freire says of himself, “I’m an intellectual who is not afraid of being loving. I love people and I love the world, and it is because I love people and I love the world that I fight so that social justice is implemented before charity.” Freire wrote about the role that love plays in the commitment to a liberating education early on in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, where he wrote a section on Che Guevara and the feelings of love toward the Latin American peasants Guevara sought to liberate. Freire continued coming back to the role of love in education throughout his many writings until the end of his life. In one of Freire’s last books, Pedagogy of the Heart , he further explores the role of emotions in the process of conscientização. He believed that education was an act of love, and it thus required courage to be politically committed to work toward the empowerment of our students and belief in their potential.

10. Criticisms

There are several criticisms that have been made of Paulo Freire’s work and theories. The most common criticism that is made of Freire is due to his style of writing. Freire’s critics find his writing style to be verbose, cumbersome, and difficult to understand. Relatedly, Freire came under attack by feminists because in his earlier books Freire consistently used male pronouns and male examples. Unlike English, Portuguese is a gendered language, and although Freire was sympathetic to feminism, Freire’s writing was, like most of the writing at the time, dominated by male-centered examples and pronouns. Once Freire was made aware of this shortcoming in his writing, he revised the language of his earlier books in later editions and adopted a more gender-neutral style for the writing of his later books.

Another criticism that has been made of Freire’s work is that his pedagogical model and many of his theories regarding pedagogy are not transferable from the Brazilian third-world context where they were formulated. Although teachers in the U. S. A. have tried to work with Freire’s pedagogical model, the U. S. A. context is too different, his critics argue, from the one where Freire developed his ideas.

Additionally, Freire has been criticized for not fully espousing either Marxism, feminism, Catholicism, nor a militaristic approach to revolutionary change. Although Freire was sympathetic to certain elements of each of these approaches and set of beliefs, his insistence on the importance of dialogue frustrated many of his critics, who have attacked him for not having a concrete and practical method for helping people that could be used in different contexts. Freire has been criticized by leftists for his antireductionist approach and his insistence on dialogue, which in their opinion only slows down the change they want to bring about. Organizers of training events for teachers and social leaders would often invite Freire to help with the planning. Often these organizers became frustrated with Freire’s refusal to provide them with rules or a set of ready-made solutions to their problems.

Numerous if not countless scholars, activists, politicians, and leaders have been influenced by Paulo Freire’s life and ideas. Among these are bell hooks, Cornel West, Angela Valenzuela, James H. Cone, Peter McLaren, Henry Giroux, Donaldo Macedo, Joe L. Kincheloe, Carlos Alberto Torres, Ira Shor, Shirley R. Steinberg, Michael W. Apple, Stanley Aronowitz, Leonardo Boff, and Jonathan Kozol.

Freire’s Pedagogy of The Oppressed has been influential the world over, and it has been translated into 17 languages. In the 21st century, it is considered to be too subversive for reading; it is one of the banned books in the state of Arizona (U. S. A.). Freire’s emancipatory model of teaching has been widely adopted in previously colonized countries and continents such as Latin America, Africa, Asia, the Philippines, India, and Papua New Guinea. Having been established to generate dialogue and support research into pedagogical approaches and theories, the Paulo Freire Institute is active in 18 countries. The World Bank funded the Southern Highlands Rural Development Program’s Literacy Campaign, which is based on a Freirean model of pedagogy.

Freire was presented with numerous medals, honorary degrees, and recognitions both during his lifetime as well as posthumously. Among these honors are the 1980 King Baudouin International Development Prize and the 1986 UNESCO Prize for Education for Peace. In 2008, Freire was inducted into the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame.

More important than all of the recognitions Freire received and the scholars he influenced, Freire’s life was his most significant legacy. His life’s example continues to inspire. He created the conditions by which thousands of people, the children and grandchildren of former slaves, could learn to read and write, learn about their agency and freedom, and learn to love.

12. References and Further Reading

Author Information

Kim Díaz Email: [email protected] El Paso Community College U. S. A.

An encyclopedia of philosophy articles written by professional philosophers.

critical consciousness by paulo freire

critical consciousness by paulo freire

Get Textbooks on Google Play

Rent and save from the world's largest eBookstore. Read, highlight, and take notes, across web, tablet, and phone.

Go to Google Play Now »

What people are saying  -   Write a review

Librarything review.

Born to middle class parents in Recife, Brazil, Freire knew poverty and hunger during the Great Depression, an experience that would shape his concern for the poor and his view on education. Paulo ... Read full review

Selected pages

Title Page

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases, references to this book, about the author  (2005), bibliographic information.

QR code for Education for Critical Consciousness

critical consciousness by paulo freire

Paulo Freire

Who was Paulo Freire?

Paulo freire.

critical consciousness by paulo freire

Course Categories

University Degrees

Online Courses


Premium Courses

Short courses.

Mini Courses

Sign in/up with Facebook

Sign in/up with Twitter

Sign in/up with Linkedin

Sign in/up with Google

Sign in/up with Apple

critical consciousness by paulo freire


People who viewed this item also viewed

Education for critical consciousness am freire paulo bloomsbury publishing plc p, paulo freire education for critical consciousness (paperback), education for critical consciousness by . paulo freire, paulo freire education for critical consciousness (paperback) (us import), new book becoming a critical thinker by egege, s. (2021), picture information, picture 1 of 1, shop with confidence, seller information.

NEW BOOK Education for Critical Consciousnes by Freire,Paulo (2021)

Be the first to write a review .

Item information

Oops! Looks like we're having trouble connecting to our server.

Refresh your browser window to try again.

An error occurred. Please try again.

Bottom panel for Description

Item specifics, about this product, product information, product identifiers, product key features, additional product features, item description from the seller, business seller information.

Return policy

Postage and handling, sales tax for an item #295557090569, payment details, detailed seller ratings, average for the last 12 months, popular categories from this store.

Seller Feedback (199,159)

No ratings or reviews yet.

More to explore:

La gente interesada en este artículo también ha visto

Education for critical consciousness - 9781350190146, paulo freire - 9780415087926, education for critical consciousness, paperback by freire, paulo; torres, car..., pedagogy of the oppressed: 50th anniversary edition by paulo freire (english) pa, child care justice: transforming the system of care for young children by barbar, información de la imagen, imagen 1 de 1, compra con confianza, información del vendedor.

Contactar con el vendedor

Education for Critical Consciousness by . Paulo Freire

Sé el primero en escribir una opinión .

Información del artículo

Oops! Looks like we're having trouble connecting to our server.

Refresh your browser window to try again.


Se ha producido un error; vuelve a intentarlo más tarde.

Bottom panel for Description

Características del artículo

Acerca de este producto, product information, product identifiers, product key features, additional product features, descripción del artículo del vendedor, información de vendedor profesional.

Política de devoluciones

Envío y manipulación, impuesto de ventas del artículo 165687098363, detalles de pago, valoraciones detalladas sobre el vendedor, promedio durante los últimos 12 meses, categorías populares de esta tienda.

Votos de vendedor (102.065)

Todavía no hay valoraciones ni opiniones


  1. Education for Critical Consciousness by Paulo Freire (English) Paperback Book Fr 9781780937816

    critical consciousness by paulo freire

  2. Education for Critical Consciousness by Paulo Freire

    critical consciousness by paulo freire

  3. Freire, Paulo

    critical consciousness by paulo freire

  4. Paulo Freire and popular struggle in South Africa : New Frame

    critical consciousness by paulo freire

  5. Critical Consciousness Theory

    critical consciousness by paulo freire

  6. Paulo Freire: the pioneer of critical pedagogy

    critical consciousness by paulo freire


  1. Critical Reflection, Speaking Out, Conscientization, & Stand Up for the Oppressed Rey Ty

  2. Helicopter Crash

  3. 3 CriticalConsciousnessInIntroPsych Pt1 TheCaseForCriticalConsciousness v1 3m42s

  4. Visualising Active Travel with Pakistani Families in Bradford: an interview with Zahara Batool


  6. Why being creative is good for you


  1. Critical consciousness

    Paulo Freire defines critical consciousness as the ability to intervene in reality in order to change it. [2] Critical consciousness proceeds through the identification of "generative themes", which Freire identifies as "iconic representations that have a powerful emotional impact in the daily lives of learners."

  2. Critical pedagogy

    When achieved, critical consciousness encourages individuals to effect change in their world through social critique and political action in order to self-actualize. Critical pedagogy was founded by the Brazilian philosopher and educator Paulo Freire, who promoted it through his 1968 book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

  3. What Is Critical Consciousness?

    ( Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed) Critical consciousness, conceivably the pinnacle of culturally relevant pedagogy (CRP), often proves challenging for many teachers to implement, leading many to leave it out of their instructional practice.

  4. Education for Critical Consciousness by Paulo Freire

    Freire was a brilliant, compassionate scholar with a shrewd eye for the underlying oppressions in our society's education. An oasis of theory for educators, linguists, librarians and the like. ...more Like · see review Aug 16, 2017 Nick rated it really liked it This book on "critical pedagogy" opened up a whole new world to me.

  5. Concepts Used by Paulo Freire

    Paulo Freire says that we all acquire social myths which have a dominant tendency, and so learning is a critical process which depends upon uncovering real problems and actual needs. Codification This is a way of gathering information in order to build up a picture (codify) around real situations and real people.

  6. Critical consciousness: A key to student achievement

    The case for critical consciousness Brazilian educator Paulo Freire (1970) conceived of critical consciousness while working with adult laborers in Brazil. Freire realized that inequality is sustained when the people most affected by it are unable to decode their social conditions.


    Critical Consciousness The concept of critical consciousness "conscientizaçao," or critical awareness, was used in the field of adult education by Brazilian educator Paulo Freire. Critical consciousness was defined as having an in-depth understanding of the world and the resulting freedom from traditional methods (Freire, 1973).

  8. Education for Critical Consciousness: Freire, Paulo: 9781350190153

    Paulo Freire is the author of the bestselling Pedagogy of the Oppressed as well as Education for Critical Consciousness, Pedagogy in Process (The Letters to Guinea-Bissau), Learning to Question (with Antonio Faundez), and Pedagogy of the City. Product details Publisher ‏ : ‎ Bloomsbury Academic (July 29, 2021) Language ‏ : ‎ English

  9. Paulo Freire

    Paulo Reglus Neves Freire (19 September 1921 - 2 May 1997) was a Brazilian educator and philosopher who was a leading advocate of critical pedagogy.His influential work Pedagogy of the Oppressed is generally considered one of the foundational texts of the critical pedagogy movement, and was the third most cited book in the social sciences as of 2016 according to Google Scholar.

  10. Paulo Freire: the pioneer of critical pedagogy

    First, implementing Freire's idea of critical consciousness means, opening your own eyes to the injustices around us. When you start to notice how one dominant group in society may be imposing a culture or worldview on everyone else, you can begin to resist it.

  11. Education for Critical Consciousness: : Paulo Freire ...

    Famous for his advocacy of 'critical pedagogy', Paulo Freire was Latin America's foremost educationalist, a thinker and writer whose work and ideas continue to exert enormous influence in education throughout the world today. Education for Critical Consciousness is the main statement of Freire's revolutionary method of education.

  12. Education for Critical Consciousness: Freire, Paulo: 9781350190146

    Paulo Freire is the author of the bestselling Pedagogy of the Oppressed as well as Education for Critical Consciousness, Pedagogy in Process (The Letters to Guinea-Bissau), Learning to Question (with Antonio Faundez), and Pedagogy of the City. Product details Publisher ‏ : ‎ Bloomsbury Academic (July 29, 2021) Language ‏ : ‎ English

  13. What Is Paulo Freire'S Theory?

    By Paul Arnold May 31, 2022 Best known for his book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freire believed that education was a means to building a "critical consciousness" that would enable people to create change in their lives. His work has influenced many of our educational and civic programmes including Implicated Theatre, Youth Forum and ACT ESOL.

  14. IJERPH

    The Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire, argued that to achieve critical consciousness, the oppressed and their oppressors both need to grow in awareness of how they interact with the social world, work together to build community, and commit to change social conditions . Critical reflection on oppressive systems, which were largely class-based in ...

  15. Amazon.com: Education for Critical Consciousness eBook : Freire, Paulo

    Paulo Freire is the author of the bestselling Pedagogy of the Oppressed as well as Education for Critical Consciousness, Pedagogy in Process (The Letters to Guinea-Bissau), Learning to Questio n (with Antonio Faundez), and Pedagogy of the City.--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

  16. Education for Critical Consciousness

    Famous for his advocacy of 'critical pedagogy', Paulo Freire was Latin America's foremost educationalist, a thinker and writer whose work and ideas continue to exert enormous influence in education throughout the world today. Education for Critical Consciousness is the main statement of Freire's revolutionary method of education. It takes the life situation of the learner as its starting point ...

  17. [PDF] Education for Critical Consciousness

    In Pedagogy of the Oppressed and subsequent works, Paulo Freire extends the significance of conscientizacao or critical consciousness with respect to a liberatory pedagogy. The article discusses this… Expand 3 Highly Influenced View 13 excerpts, cites background Changing Society, Changing Humanity: Freirian Goals of Education. Cristóbal Madero

  18. Paulo Freire

    The Paulo Freire Reader. New York: Continuum, 2000. Presents Paulo Freire's main ideas with an introduction written by Nita Freire. Freire, Paulo. Education for Critical Consciousness. New York: Seabury Press, 1973. Re-publication (in English) of Paulo Freire's first book Education, the Practice of Freedom together with Extension or ...

  19. Education for Critical Consciousness Audiobook, written by Paulo Freire

    Famous for his advocacy of 'critical pedagogy', Paulo Freire was Latin America's foremost educationalist, a thinker and writer whose work and ideas continue to exert enormous influence in education throughout the world today. Education for Critical Consciousness is the main statement of Freire's revolutionary method of education. It takes the life situation of the learner as its starting point ...

  20. Education for Critical Consciousness (Bloomsbury Revelations): Freire

    Paulo Freire is the author of the bestselling Pedagogy of the Oppressed as well as Education for Critical Consciousness, Pedagogy in Process (The Letters to Guinea-Bissau), Learning to Question (with Antonio Faundez), and Pedagogy of the City. Product details Publisher ‏ : ‎ Bloomsbury Academic; Reprint edition (June 27, 2013)

  21. PDF Paulo Freire and critical consciousness in conflict-affected contexts

    Critical pedagogies Social transformation Freire Introduction While Paulo Freire did not use the term 'empowerment' directly, his emphasis on education as a means to critical consciousness and transformation for social justice provides an important backdrop for social activists concerned with empowering the poor and marginalised (Rai et al ...

  22. Education for Critical Consciousness

    Paulo Freire (1921-97) was Latin America's foremost educationalist, a thinker and writer whose work and ideas continue to exert enormous influence in education throughout the world today....

  23. Paulo Freire

    Paulo Freire's work has influenced people working in education, community development, community health and many other fields. Freire developed an approach to education that links the identification of issues to positive action for change and development. While Freire's original work was in adult literacy, his approach leads us to think ...

  24. NEW BOOK Education for Critical Consciousnes by Freire,Paulo (2021

    Find many great new & used options and get the best deals for NEW BOOK Education for Critical Consciousnes by Freire,Paulo (2021) at the best online prices at eBay!

  25. Education for Critical Consciousness by . Paulo Freire

    Las mejores ofertas para Education for Critical Consciousness by . Paulo Freire están en eBay Compara precios y características de productos nuevos y usados Muchos artículos con envío gratis!