Paulo Freire's Critical Pedagogy

Define: “Critical Pedagogy involves questioning, naming, reflecting, analyzing and collectively acting in the world” (Ledwith, 2005, pg. 95). It is also defined as a, “democratic process of education that takes place in community groups and forms the basis of transformation.” [Ledwith, 2005, pg. 95] Paulo Freire’s theory is based on the belief that liberation is possible.

Apply: This theory has helped to shape the philosophy behind community development work that we practice today. As a community developer/organizer, you are a critical educator. It is essential to encourage others to engage in critical thought through asking challenging questions and pushing people to their learning curves. Through this process, the community worker is encouraging the individual to ask his/her own questions and enter into that critical sense of thought that will hopefully give hope and lead them into a sense of liberation.

Adapt: Freire’s theory can be and should be adapted in all areas of life. If this theory was adapted in a business structure, employees would be empowered and learn from one another, as opposed to following a specific leader. These employees would be given a voice if this theory were to be adapted in this setting. For example, a business owner of an accounting firm could encourage his/her employees to critically think about his/her work and ask themselves questions that would encourage critical thought. This sense of encouragement allows for critical thought to take place, and through this process an employee could realize that the business was engaging in unethical practices. The employee could bring up this realization to the employer, and through dialogue and mutual respect, issues would be addressed and change can be effectively achieved within the business.

Source: Ledwith, M. (2005). Community Development (pp. 56-111). Portland: Policy Press.

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