Some Thoughts on Critical Consciousness

Paulo Freire, an educator who worked in Brazil in the 1960’s, is well-known for several essays including “Education for Critical Consciousness” and “Extension and Communication” (Freire, 1974). In these works, Freire argues that meaningful learning occurs when the learner reaches critical consciousness which enables the learner to reflect on and understand not only what they know, but why they known it and how they know it. Freire concludes, “Educators never allow themselves to be bureaucratized by high-sounding, repetitious, mechanical explanations” (1974, p. 151). Referring to the on-going work of answering questions that arise during instruction, Freire continues, “It means making a new effort, in new situations, in which new aspects which were not clear before are clearly presented to the [student]” (1974, p. 151). The future of education planning necessitates each educator (both individually and as a community member) develop critical consciousness that empowers each individual and group to respond with reason and evidence to proposed pedagogy.

The strategies presented here are intended to facilitate educators’ work of developing the critical consciousness and with these educators are prepared to address several circumstances. First, they will evaluate new ideas, adopting and adapting those that are aligned with their critical consciousness. Second, they will avoid those ideas that are misaligned with their critical consciousness. Third, they will be prepared to create their own curriculum and instruction.


Freire, P. (1974). Education for critical consciousness. Crossroad Publishing Company.