Why knowledge beats critical pedagogy

Filling the pail


A foundational text of ‘critical pedagogy’ is Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. It is a curious, largely abstract book. However, it does lay down a few absolutes. Freire argues against the ‘banking model of education’ where a teacher apparently assumes that his or her students know nothing and then tries to rectify this by making ‘deposits’ of information. This is clearly a pejorative description of explicit teaching. Teachers who teach explicitly do not assume their students know nothing. In fact, they use a range of formative assessment strategies throughout the teaching process to assess exactly what their students know, making explicit teaching highly interactive. It is therefore a description that fits Barak Rosenshine’s fifth meaning of ‘direct instruction’ which is, ‘Instruction where direct instruction is portrayed in negative terms such as settings where the teacher lectures and the students sit passively’.

Freire’s alternative to the banking model is…

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