Conference Papers

Education for Transformation: Critical Pedagogical Thoughts, Practice and Paulo Freire

This conceptual paper aims to discuss the role of educators from a critical pedagogical paradigm. It will consider the historical context and major influences on critical pedagogy and explore the implications for, and relevance of, Freirean theory on educational practice today. It will be argued in this paper that educators must be concerned, and committed, to advancing democratic ideals and raising critical consciousness – an awareness of the learners’ social reality through reflection and action – in order to enable students to think critically about the world and to develop the confidence and capacities to transform it.

Learning is active; it’s experiential and experimental – based on dialogue, questioning, exploring and discovery. The aim of education is to develop similar qualities in the learner (Dewey, 1916; Freire, 1973). Rather than teaching what to think, education should be concerned with the teaching of how to think. It is widely argued that education continues to suffer from narration sickness, whereby the content, in the process of being narrated by educators to students, remains detached from reality, disconnected from the world and lifeless (Freire, 1970; Illich, 1971). Yet education has the capacity to be transformational (Freire, 1970). This paper concludes that education should be less about the acquisition of decontextualised facts; and more a process of critical thinking and the quest for mutual humanisation. However, a problem that might arise is that if one has to be told about critical thinking then it’s likely that one will not get it anyway. Thus, this paper explores these issues focusing on the questions:

1. How do educators make students actually become engaged in issues of social justice?
2. Is a critical pedagogy enough to do this alone, or even relevant?


Dewey, J. (1916/1997). Democracy and Education: An introduction to the Philosophy of
Education. New York: The Free Press.
Freire, P. (1970/1996). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Freire, P. (1973/2005). Education for Critical Consciousness. London: Continuum.
Illich, I. (1971/1973). Deschooling Society. London : Calder and Boyars

Wilson, M. (2014) 'Education for Transformation: Critical Pedagogical Thoughts, Practice and Paulo Freire', paper presented to The 10th Annual Conference of the British Education Studies Association (BESA), 26–27 June, viewed 13 August 2020, <>

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