PFPaulo Freire was a Brazilian educationalist and philosopher whose radical ideas about pedagogy, learning and knowledge led to the establishment of the critical pedagogy movement. Freire held extremely negative views of mainstream approaches to education, using the metaphor of the “banking” system to describe them. Freire argued that mainstream education, as it is predominantly practiced, revolves around teachers’ attempts to deposit knowledge ‘into’ students, who are understood to be passive, empty “accounts”.


As an alternative educational approach, Freire proposed that oppressed peoples need to become critically conscious, which is, in his view, the first step towards liberation and social change. According to Freire, becoming aware of the conditions of one’s oppression conscientises oppressed peoples and, in turn, catalyses transformative actions. This may lead to people altering oppressive structural conditions. Critical pedagogy is not a method, rather it opens a space for students to act and assert themselves as agents, question their assumptions, develop an appreciation for history and critically interrogate the idea that education is a value-neutral enterprise.


Freire Institute




Essential reading:

Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York, Continuum.


Further reading

Freire, P. (1973). Education for critical consciousness. New York, Seabury Press.

Faundez, Antonion, and Paulo Freire (1992). Learning to Question: A Pedagogy of Liberation. Trans. Tony Coates, New York, Continuum.

Freire, P. and D.P. Macedo (1987). Literacy: reading the word & the world. South Hadley, Mass., Bergin & Garvey Publishers.

Freire, P. and H. Giroux & P. McLaren (1988). Teachers as intellectuals: towards a critical pedagogy of learning



How did Freire believe education could contribute to social change?

What is the relationship between the oppressed and the oppressor in Freire’s view?

What is knowledge according to Paulo Freire?

What did Freire believe was the relationship between reflection and action?



Submitted by Adam Cooper






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3 thoughts on “WYNTER, Sylvia”

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  • As an African, I feel we are blessed to have Late President Thomas Sankara who wanted to decolonise the continent of Africa. He came before his time and was never very much appreciated until he was killed. He has some of the answers Africa and her peoples were searching for and still searching for to date.
    The only way we can immortalize and celebrate the remarkable life of this great son of Africa is to request that one day been set aside for him by the AU as “Sankara Day” observed by all countries in the continent and for our brothers and sisters living in the diaspora.
    The killing of Sankara tells us that Africa is still under siege by neo-colonialist forces obsessed with regime change in our continent. Regime change is the new name for imperialism. Africans must resist such unlawful invasion like the one seen in Libya.

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