Paulo Freire (1921-1997) was one of the most influential Brazilian educator and philosopher who was a dominant figure in critical pedagogy. He is well-known for his famous work namely Pedagogy of the Oppressed which is supposed to be one of the important works in critical pedagogy. He immensely contributes in the field of critical pedagogy. He believes that critical pedagogy in this age has to have a commitment to society and to oneself. Academic health, critical consciousness, to know and interact with people and to understand themselves and their society more effectively.

Critical pedagogy has to do with the cultural norms and beliefs. The state of being fully engaged with pedagogy is to include all the social norms, social justice, empowerment and political issues so that students are conscious and more aware of political and socio -economic condition of their country.

He argues that education is always a political act and teachers are unavoidably political operatives while teaching. He further goes on to draw a consolidated association between politics, education and critical thinking. Additionally, many revolutionary reforms have been brought in teaching techniques which highly influence our educational system and the cognitive development or behavior of students. He firmly believes that teachers should embrace this dimension of their work on a social, cultural, economic, political and philosophical level and its critique should be dominant power at the very heart of the curriculum.

He states that those who do not strive to know his or her fundamental rights, are those who do not have a future and those who do not have a future, consequently, do not deserve a better present. Likewise, it is the man himself who creates his future. He draws relationship between oppression, literacy and education and uses a term Banking Model of Education which critiques the traditional way of education and its system which sees students as passive and empty receptacles to be filled with the voice of all knowing teachers. However, the term was firstly used in his one of the highly influential books Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

Moreover, he emphasizes that education is fundamentally an act of love, the virtue of tolerance and critical understanding of education. He wants teachers to be curious teachers and have a virtue of tolerance to comprehend others which is a necessary tool to better and polish their teaching skills and transfer their knowledge to students. Similarly, critical understanding of education has also been one of his major concerns. Teachers should work differently with students as per their culture, religion, linguistic background and keep in mind the likes and dislikes of their students.

Case in point, he addresses the stakeholders by stating that it is necessary to explain and to make clear to the kids or the adults that their way of speaking is as beautiful as our way of speaking. Secondly, they have the right to speak like others do so that they may never feel less important or isolated. Thirdly, the more they can articulate their voices and their speeches the more they can struggle against injustice in the society.

Following this, his ideas about role of education and political freedom eventually became some of the most important contributions in critical pedagogy. He further explains that teachers should not be the sole authority in the class. Similarly as the colonizers consider their own ways to be always best. The teacher who sees his students as hollow vessels do the same. In the result, it hinders students participating in a process that encourages critical thinking or in providing them a voice. Thus, they always remain dependent or passive learners.

Furthermore, he suggests a certain educational system which provides equal opportunities to both teachers and students to actively participate in a discussion. To do so, teachers should pose a problem and ask students to resolve it. It will allow them to be more critical in their studies and make a room for self-awareness.

On the other hand, Alastair Pennycook who is one of another important figures in the field of Applied Linguistics and critical pedagogy talks about critical dimensions in applied linguistics by stating that English is not just a language which is supposed to be learnt or taught rather it comes up with all sorts of baggage. It is also interlinked with social issues, politics, economics and so on. He is off the same view as Paulo Freire that a teacher must know about students’ interest, cultural norms, religious beliefs, political, economic and psychological background to be able to understand students more effectively.

English language teaching has to do with the power and therefore the difference between English and globalization and other languages should be known. The relationship and value of English as compared to other languages, the role of British colonization and its impact on colonized countries.

English spread in most part of the world in British Empire it is also obvious that the expansion of kingdom helped English flourish throughout the world. English in the discourse of colonialism does not necessarily take a major position but it is to take a position about social justice. There is a centre and core of the argument within the language or while teaching the language. He is particularly known for his work on the global spread of English specifically in his classic text The Cultural Politics of English as an International Language (Longman 1994).
He also contributes in critical approaches to language, education, applied linguistics. He talks about other works done in the last few years on language globalization and popular cultures as discussed in global English. The hip-hop culture ,youth identity and politics of language. He believes that we need to rethink what we think about language and question some preconceived or assumptions and multilingualism. We are not only teachers that we teach language instead how we want our students to behave and view the language. Thus, we are one way or the other political activists as educators.

In the conclusion, those who are teachers, should utilize the similar critical approaches in the country to help
students learn the target language more effectively and be more critical learners which is easily applicable and practicable.

  • Imran Umer is a freelance writer and currently studying M.A Literature and Linguistics in University of Karachi.

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