Paulo Freire’s Social Justice Idea


Paulo Freire’s idea of learning for social justice has influenced many academic disciplines and has remained an inspiration to many across the world. This Brazilian educator has been revolutionary in his ideas of education for justice and he has left a significant mark on thinking progressive practices in education. Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed is one of the most quoted educational text worldwide, through which he was able to weave together educational practices and liberation. He explained the deep theory and practice of liberatory education around the globe and relates the education to broader social movements to fight for humanity and liberation. Purpose of education is mainly concerned with literacy so that these educated people can make their own arguments by weighing different perspectives. So, the literacy would help men and women to overcome their sense of powerlessness and thus develop agency. They can tranform their situation relating to any problem in life by thinking critically about reality and then taking action.

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Freire’s theory relates this to overcome oppression by appropriate education and thinking critically. This oppression can be any problem associated with social, political and economical context of a person’s life. To become such kind of literate we have to make our education system to support such transformation. According to Freire, education system played a central role in maintaining oppression and it need to be reformed in order for things to change for thewho suffered. Teachers who wants to change the world need to engage students in doing same as it’s the co-participation of both teachers and students in justice struggle. Teachers must be open with their views, but never impose them on students and give the right to students to have their own ideas, but also must have mutual respect for each other’s ideas.

Key components and strategies of learning for justice theory: these key components of learning for justice will provide the insight of the whole process to impove existing teaching policies and strategies in padagogy.

1.Banking education

Banking education framewrok explains the existing framework for curriculum delivery, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor where the teacher makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat. In this type of educational system, students are listening objects, are not asked to think critically about the world in which they live. They are merely asked to swallow information. This banking education allows the oppressors (policy makers, curriculum designers) to maintain the system of oppression, which minimize students’ creative power and to stimulate their credulity to serve the interests of the oppressors in which students do not have the opportunity to question or critically evaluate the world in which they live and thus have no opportunity to change their lives for the better. Alternative to banking education which Freire proposed as is the liberating education or questioning education. Liberating education involves a process of humanizing people who have been oppressed, which can be related to today’s school system to empower students to question education. It also empowers them to question their lives and their position in society. They will become more fully human and would know how to fight dehumanization which involves the injustice, exploitation and oppression etc.

2. Culture Cycle

Freire took the education out of traditional (four wall) classroom, where students and teacher together discuss themes that have significance within the context of students’ lives. These themes should be discovered through the cooperative research of educator and student. These themes are related to nature, culture, work, and relationships and can be discovered by making connections with students and knowing their background and interests. These themes are then represented in the form of visual representations then students decode these themes and they recognize them as situations in which they themselves are involved as subjects. This process will engage them in critical consiousness. For example Gutstein, enhanced the coursework with the project in which students investigated racism and using mathematics as a key analytical tool, which emphasis on relating these themes to official curriculum by finding connections. The themes like racism, discrimination, gender, sex, can be taught in classroom settings.

3. Generative themes and codifications

Generative (capacity to unfold further to generate many themes) theme should be interested to students, which evoke importance or concern to them, so that discussion can be generated. The themes should be represented in the form of codification (either represented by a word or short phrase or a visual representation – a picture or photograph). These codifications would make students explore these themes critically by regarding them objectively rather than simply experiencing them. System of codifications has been very successful in promoting literacy among adult students, Freire always emphasized that it should not be approached mechanically, but rather as a process of creation and awakening of consciousnes with which they decode the aspects of situation by feeling themselves in the situation and be able to reflect critically upon its various aspects. The activism can be applied by using approach of codifications, in which students would deal with a problem by feeling themselves in that situation. For example themes like Raising social consciousness: prejudices and employment, Quality of life: consciousness and participation, Housing: urbanization and values, Cohabitation and violence. These themes with concrete representations of ideas, hopes, outlooks and challenges arising out of human beings’ orientations to the world will provide a certain view of viewing the world to the students. This practice is suggested to replace traditional method where teacher choose the program content and students adapt to it.

4. Praxis Freire’s concept of praxis in education is related to action research: a process where a group works together through cycles of action, reflection and further action to improve a situation.

Freirean praxis assumes that education is political, so the practice of education must be informed by praxis learning begins with action is then shaped by reflection, which gives rise to further action. In order to transform the world, reflection and action are inseparable, you cannot act without thinking and reflection without action will not change reality. Which is required to replace the existing policy of teacher talks and student listens.

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Paulo Freire's Social Justice Idea. (2019, Apr 08). Retrieved December 2, 2022 , from

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