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Why Do We Use Critical Consciousness in Education?

Critical consciousness, conscience, or conscience in Spanish, is an educational and social philosophy developed by Brazilian educational educator and social philosopher Paulo Freire, founded on post-Marxist critical philosophy. 

In this philosophy, individual human beings are viewed as active subjects, not passive observers. The subjectivity of the subject, or the individual's capacity to develop and change their own consciousness of the world become central aspects of Freire's theory.

Critical Consciousness

Critical Consciousness

Freire argues that the subject, or the person, can learn and change, and have a positive impact upon their surroundings, because they are more actively involved in creating their own reality, rather than being passively observed by it. He also suggests that the development of an active, conscious subject is central to the development of an educational system which is able to provide the necessary structure for learning and development.

When Critical Consciousness was Introduced

Critical consciousness was introduced into schools and universities in Brazil in the 1960s by Jose Figueiredo, a Brazilian sociologist, educator and cultural critic. Figueiredo believed that teaching should be based on a critical process, and that the teaching and learning process should be viewed as a system of interrelated questions, rather than as a one-off activity where the student only learns what they are asked to learn.

Critical Consciousness as Participatory Education

The idea that the student is more involved in the learning process was first developed in the United States under the supervision of philosopher Joseph Frederickson, who argued that all knowledge and all cultures are based on the interaction of individuals and communities. This process of the student being engaged in the learning process was called participatory education.

Importance of Critical Consciousness in Education

Critical consciousness became an important part of education when educators began to incorporate it in all aspects of teaching and learning. It was taken up with enthusiasm and vigor in the United States and has since become a key part of all aspects of education.

Critical Consciousness Basics

Critical consciousness is based on three interconnected ideas. The first is that human beings are active, thinking, and self-reflective beings. The second is that all human beings can become consciously aware of their internal experiences and the interrelatedness of these experiences with external reality. Finally, the third idea is that we all create our own reality, and that it is possible to create a new reality which we experience and observe from the outside.

Effects of Critical Consciousness

When critically engaged, critical consciousness makes us see the world differently. By understanding the world in the perspective of a different point of view, we see the world differently. We can begin to make connections with others who might not otherwise have come into contact with the subject matter of our courses and seminars, and thereby allow the subject matter to become richer, more varied and more interesting.

Critical Consciousness in Education

Some examples of curriculum and teacher training programs that use the ideas of critical consciousness include public education, law enforcement, health care, education, and other areas of social work and humanities. These programs provide tools and techniques for teaching critical consciousness through a different perspective and help students to become more active participants in the learning process.

Critical consciousness theory is used extensively in hospitals and rehabilitation centres, and is becoming increasingly important in the development of education. Students who learn through the lenses of critical consciousness improve their ability to see the world in a more positive light.

Opportunities by Critical Consciousness

Teachers and trainers who understand and practice the principles of critical consciousness are capable of providing an enriching education to students who lack such opportunities. 

They enhance the knowledge base of students, teach them valuable skills such as empathy, communication, and creativity, and give them tools and resources to help them create meaningful learning opportunities.

 They encourage students to be active participants in the learning process. They also inspire students to become more involved in their educational experiences.

New Factor in Education

Teaching in schools and universities is a major use of this type of thinking. In some areas of education, critical consciousness has been replaced with a more traditional approach to teaching but is still very useful as a tool and as a way of developing the abilities of young children and helping them become more aware of their place in the world.

 In classrooms, students are taught to use reflective reasoning, analyse information, think critically about their own behaviours, and relationships, and to take responsibility for their own actions.


This type of thinking in education has had a profound impact on public discourse and the way the world views education. In recent years, it has become an essential part of our society's philosophy of education. Teachers around the world are using this type of thinking as a way to better the quality of life for the children of their students. As a result, students have greater confidence in themselves and the world around them.




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