“…a [person] who transforms the world is transformed’ (Freire 1985: 112) Education has the power to both transform and oppress. As educators, we can choose to assimilate students into the world as it is, or to help them to become active subjects engaged in constructing the future (Mayo, 2013; Freire, 1985). This chapter will discuss ways both educators and curriculum designers can work towards the latter by utilising the transformative pedagogy of Paulo Freire. Freire’s transformative pedagogy provides the antithesis for authoritarian education, which utilises instructional, didactic approaches to train workers to work, and the elite to dominate (Freire, 1994; Giroux, 2010). To counter this, Freire advocates for a liberating pedagogy, where students can dialectically and critically explore concepts and ideas with others. Through close examination, students begin to unveil the constructs behind these seemingly objective truths, understanding them better and recognising their opportunity to re-construct them. This ontological shift, where reality is recognised as unfinished, helps students to see the possibility for transformation. This chapter will explore this process in action by demonstrating how the principles of Freire’s transformative pedagogy can be applied to transform students’ understanding of education and the wider world. Utilising data from a UK university project with students with dyslexia, it will show how this type of critical engagement leads to action and transformation. In addition, examples will be drawn from an anti-racist student group, a community learning group and decolonising initiatives, to show how Freire’s pedagogy can be successfully applied to a variety of contexts.
Beth has worked in education for over 22 years, as a primary teacher, educational developer, education lecturer and neurodiversity specialist. She is passionate about Inclusive and Transformative Pedagogies, evolving from her experiences as a neurodivergent individual. Her research explores the work of educationalist Paulo Freire, to support dyslexic students in higher education. Beth also learns from critical educators bell hooks and Beverly Tatum, along with the amazing students she works with daily. When not working, Beth loves to bake cakes. She lives with her husband and a cat called Korg