For this blog post’s topic, I didn’t have to think for a long time. When we discussed a change in teacher-student roles, I immediately thought about the concept of critical pedagogy. A concept which emphasizes how closely related social justice and democracy are to practices of learning and teaching. It was crucially influenced by the Brazilian educator and philosopher Paulo Freire. 

Monument standing in front of the Ministry of Education showing Paulo Freire in Brasilia, Brazil.
User:Brandizzi, CC BY 2.5 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

The first time I came a long Freire and his work I was sitting in a class about pedagogy theories. I was drawn to the different ideas Freire brought to the field and liked that the ideas of critical pedagogy made me look outside the box. 
While thinking about topic 4, I thought, what would Paulo Freire make of online learning?

As I mentioned earlier, changing student-teacher roles where on my mind, which is also one of the key aspects of the critical pedagogy framework. Freire criticized the stagnant, conservative power dynamics that are often prevalent in classrooms that do not foster learners to be independent-thinking members of a democratic society. Indeed, he called it the „banking model“ of education, where:

„The teacher teaches and the students are taught. The teacher teaches and the students are taught. The teacher thinks and the students are thought about. The teacher knows everything and the students know nothing“.

(Freire 73)

The introduction of technoculture into classrooms, however, might change teacher-student dynamics for good. In an online classroom, in which younger generations tend to know more about the newest technology it is important to reevaluate who is “supposed” to teach and who is “supposed” to learn. Rethinking the medium’s possibilities actually would allow teaching to adapt to a more dialogical form, giving all learners the chance to “become jointly responsible for a process in which all grow” (ibid 80).

As education is not a one way street, this does not only apply for the students. It also applies for the teacher, who in the banking model is described as the omniscient person that imparts knowledge. But actually, the internet is a good space to realize that I cannot and will never be the master of everything. Someone will always know better how to plant a Ficus or know instantly what the 17th digit of Pi is. And that is okay. As Maylor describes it:

“Herein lies the contradiction in education: that teachers can be both educators and learners.”

(Maylor 2012)

In a virtual space, teacher- and student-roles are, indeed, changing and thus, adapting to a whole new reality of education and learning is crucial.
For me, the most important aspect of revisiting Freire’s work in a context of online education was to remember myself to critically question, rethink and reconsider my practice of (online) teaching.

What would I like online learning to look like?


  • Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Translated by Myra Bergman. Ramos, Continuum, 2005.
  • Kahn, Richard, and Douglas Kellner. “Paulo Freire and Ivan Illich: Technology, Politics, and the Reconstruction of Education.” Policy Futures in Education, vol. 5, 2007, pp. 431–445.
Monday, December 14th