Thursday, 5 March 2009

Toohey and Freire on Conversation.

Toohey's Social Critical approach to the curriculum has much overlap with Smith's process and praxis approaches and the role of conversation here also takes pride of place too. Toohey identifies Paolo Freire as the most famous social critical pedagogue. Shor (1993) takes a look at the Freirean pedagogy in more detail and in doing so expertly illustrates the prominent role dialogue has within such a pedagogy using terms such as dialogue leaders and to teach dialogically.

A Freirean pedagogy tries to avoid a one way monologue in the class room, to develop a student centred and problem posing dialogue, to teach subject matter dialogically and to create a new attitude in doing so.

Freire (1973: 52 in Shor 1993) argues that dialogue has been absent from our upbringing and education up to this point. In a Freiran pedagogy, problem posing is considered key to critical dialogue and a teacher following freirean principles would be a critical teacher, a problem poser who asks thought provoking questions and a dialogic teacher who does not seperate themselves from the dialogue. Inside a rigorous dialogue and thematic discussions a freirean teacher would have the right and responsibility to put forward his or her ideas, in a language accessible to students who have the freedom to question and disagree with the teacher's analysis.

In a freirean pedagogic approach to teaching critical dialogue would be used to problematize experiences, relationships, situations and dialogic reflections amongst peers and to help a student gain some critical distance from their conditions, giving them space to consider how to transform them.

Problem posing often used questioning techniques so some comparisons can be drawn with socratic methods of teaching and learning.


Shor, I. (1993). Education is politics: Paulo Freire's critical pedagogy. In Paulo Freire: a critical encounter. P. McLaren and P. Leonard (Eds.). (London, Routledge): pp. 25-35

Toohey, S. (1999). Beliefs, values and ideologies in course design. In Designing courses for higher education. Toohey, S. (Buckingham, SRHE and OUP): pp. 44-69

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