Paulo Freire and Critical Pedagogy

“To the oppressed, and to those who suffer with them and fight at their side” (Paulo Freire). 

Freire states that thinking educational practice and liberation are intertwined. Education can be humanistic and remove the shackles of the oppressed, by liberating themselves and the oppressors as well.

Education should not be divorced from politics and the act of teaching and learning are political components. The education process is therefore not a neutral process. Freire’s belief was to provide native populations with an education which was both new and modern (rather than traditional) and not simply an extension of the culture of the colonizer. Just look at World Bank and their “education for all policy’, all linking in with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and UNESCO and using national qualification frameworks devised for the western world, is this what Freire would call ‘the colonizers”?

In education the freedom to say ‘why’. Remember when higher education was a place to question authority, broaden your knowledge and political convictions not just become a ‘work ready’ product of the education system.

No one is born fully-formed: it is through self-experience in the world that we become what we are.” (Paulo Freire)

Critical pedagogy

“Critical pedagogy is a philosophy of education and social movement that has developed and applied concepts from critical theory and related traditions to the field of education and the study of culture. Advocates of critical pedagogy view teaching as an inherently political act, reject the neutrality of knowledge, and insist that issues of social justice and democracy itself are not distinct from acts of teaching and learning. The goal of critical pedagogy is emancipation from oppression through an awakening of the critical consciousness, s a philosophy of education and social movement that has developed and applied concepts from critical theory and related traditions to the field of education and the study of culture” (Wikipedia, 2017).

Critical pedagogy  is a continuous process of:

  • unlearning,
  • learning,
  • and relearning,
  • reflection,
  • evaluation.

For Freire the goal of creating not only a better learning environment but also a better world is the focus. It’s interesting to read and reflect at where we are at today, as if you consider the world of higher education you could be forgiven in thinking that maybe the key focus of education in it’s ability to transform at a personal and society level has been forgotten in a business driven education system. Or is critical thinking alive and well and we are actually more aware of critical pedagogy and social movement due to the nature of connectivity and the internet?


To the oppressed, and to those who suffer with them and fight at their side” (Friere, 2000).

“Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiques and makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat. This is the “banking” concept of education, in which the scope of action allowed to the students extends only as far as receiving, filing, and storing the deposits” (Freire, 2000).

If the structure does not permit dialogue the structure must be changed.” (Paulo Freire)

“In the banking concept of education, knowledge is a gift bestowed by those who consider themselves knowledgeable upon those whom they consider to know nothing. Projecting an absolute ignorance onto others, a characteristic of the ideology)of oppression, negates education and knowledge as processes of inquiry”  (Freire, 2000).

The passive nature of “banking”in education according to Freire is the attempt to control students thinking and action, and inhibits the creative ideology of generations. This makes for a passive society. Get revolutionary people!

Keywords: critical pedagogy; banking; praxis; critical thinking; power; oppressed.


Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Freire Institute (2017) Paulo Freire.

Wikipedia (2017) Paulo Freire.

Nurse as educator: Principles of teaching and learning for nursing practice

Book Club: Bastable, S. (2014). Nurse as educator: Principles of teaching and learning for nursing practice (4th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning. [link to 2nd edition]

It’s good to return to the true literature (time depending) and read a holistic overview of nursing education. This USA flavored (flavoured) book covers a historical and contemporary view of the challenges facing educating nurses. The complex nature of today’s healthcare systems and transforming nursing education are discussed. Bastable also provides a reminder to retain the focus and importance of patient education not just solely educating nurses, to increase competence and confidence of clients to enable greater self-management.

Teaching & Learning of Nurses

“The education process is a systematic, sequential, logical, scientifically  based, planned course of action consisting of two major interdependent operations: teaching and learning” (pg. 13).

The two interdependent players in the learner and education and growth occurs in both parties. That the role of the educator is to promote learning and provide a conductive learning environment.

Relates the education process to the nursing process:

  • ascertain learning needs
  • develop a teaching plan
  • deliver teaching
  • determining behaviour, attitude or skill changes

That the actual act of teaching and instruction is one component of this education process.

Barriers to teaching and learning:

  • lack of time
  • lack of motivation and skills
  • negative environment
  • lack of confidence and competence

Motivation Factors:

  • personal attributes
  • environmental influences
  • relationship systems
  • state of anxiety
  • learner readiness
  • realistic goal setting
  • learner satisfaction and success

Also provides helpful guidance on motivational interviewing techniques.


Bastable, S. (2014). Nurse as educator: Principles of teaching and learning for nursing practice (4th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning. [link to 2nd edition]


Book Club: Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich

Book: Illich, I. (1971). Deschooling Society. New York, 56.

Summary: The education practised in schools in modern societies is based on education from the industrial age. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the year this book was wrote makes it irrelevant, the topics are still very relevant today, using learning networks to connect and learn. Illich critiques school as a form of institutionalised education and makes the reader really contemplate the role of school and the teacher. Everyone has some story regarding their experience of school and often we have strong ideas on the form and purpose of  the schooling we believe in.

“School is the advertising agency which makes you believe that you need the society as it is.”

Illich proposes 4 Learning Networks (Wikipedia, 2016):

  1. Reference services to educational objects: access to formal learning such as libraries or museums.
  2. Skill exchange: individuals record their skills, conditions they wish to model with others who may want to learn these skills and a contact method.
  3. Peer-matching: a communications network where an individual can engage in finding an appropriate skills partner.
  4. Reference services to educators: access to a network of educators with conditions of their skills and preferences.

Areas of Particular Interest:

  • Background of traditional education in industrialised society and relevance in today’s modern society
  • Link to health and in particular the medicalisation of death, very interesting reminder that in recent history society died in their homes not in a hospital. Disagree with Illich? See this TedTalk by Ken Hillman which confirms society’s change in end of life approach.
  • The potential impact of big business on education.

Questions this resource raises for nursing educators:

  • This review of school education fits into the “traditions” of University and higher education settings, how do we move into using learning networks and away from silo teaching? 
  • How do we as individuals teach undergraduate and postgraduate nursing? Are we a teacher, educator or facilitator? #heutogogy
  • The increasing emphasis on IT as educational resources opens up new traditional and non-traditional sources of knowledge, how do we ensure quality before profits in a consumer driven higher education system?


Illich, I. (1971). Deschooling Society. New York, 56. (also in Audio-book)

Illich, I. (1971). Deschooling Society. Audiobook          

GoodReads (2016) Deschooling Society Quotes by Illich, I.

Wikipedia (2016) Deschooling Society.



Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning (Book Club)

Book Club: Brown, P. C., Roediger, H. L., & McDaniel, M. A. (2014). Make It Stick. Harvard University Press. [Goodreads blurb]

The Authors 

  • The Storyteller: Brown, P. C.
  • The Cognitive Scientists: Roediger, H. L., & McDaniel, M. A.

Aim: To identify and understand how learning and memory work.

“People generally are going about learning in the wrong ways”

“Learning Is Misunderstood”

Distinction in learning between ‘memorizing’ and ‘thinking’. But a sturdy foundation of knowledge is needed before the ability of imagination and creativity and higher order skills can be undertaken. Think of rote learning as part of the foundation learning. Many common study habits and practice routines turn out to be counterproductive.

Importance of retrieval practice and the use of regular testing to test knowledge. This retrieval needs to require effort for stronger learning. Low stakes testing and providing quizzes are helpful tools the teacher can provide.

Practice at retrieving new knowledge or skill from memory is a potent tool for learning and durable retention.” (pg. 43).

The importance of providing effective feedback which strengthens learning and retention more than testing alone. So feedback is an important aspect in this learning process. Also to provide delayed feedback rather than immediate feedback is a more successful approach.

Mix it up, interleave your study. Different topics and different levels of knowledge. Varying learning or training and the interleaving allows better discrimination skills.

“Interleaving two or more subjects during practice also provides a form of spacing” (pg. 65).

Increasing knowledge and understanding. In nursing education we would focus on the problem solving skills, selecting a solution from a range of possibilities. The nursing educator would likely deem these as the critical thinking skills we try to embed in nurse training. Here the authors describe it as the ‘mastery’ of a subject.

They highlight in medicine the need to train in the environment the doctor will be assessed. So if they are to be assessed completing a physical examination, they can’t just read about it. Practice on a real patient needs to occur for improved performance.

Practice like you play and you will play like you practice” (pg 57-58).

The need for repeated exposure to whatever content is being delivered, otherwise it just adds to forgotten pile of information.

Embrace difficulties by:

  • Encoding- creating mental models.
  • Consolidation- organise and solidify learning.
  • Retrieval- mental rehearsal and ensuring short-term memory is hooked into long-term memory to enable retrieval to occur.

Go beyond learning styles aptitudes by using prior knowledge, intelligence, interests and developing a sense of personal empowerment. Use active learning strategies to effectively learn. Calibrating your understanding by testing and retrieval practice (try low stakes quizzes). Increase your abilities with neuroplasticity and the cognitive strategies for getting more out of your brain.

The Takeaway

  • Take charge of your learning.
  • Practice retrieval.
  • Interleave the study.
  • Importance of varying practice and make it challenging.

This book also highlights the art of storytelling. The main discussion is related to clinical (the storytelling part) to enable the reader to relate to a real situation or even their own experience. Each chapter has ‘the takeaway’ message part to focus the important discussion items (the big-ticket items).

Key words: cognitive; interleave; neuroplasticity; storytelling.

Relevant posts:


Brown, P. C., Roediger, H. L., & McDaniel, M. A. (2014). Make It Stick. Harvard University Press. [Goodreads blurb]

Review of Make it stick. by Lang, J. M. (2014) The Chronicle of Higher Education

Oakley, B. & Sejnowski, T. (2016) Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects. Coursera

Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew Crawford

This soul-searching book on life, work, study is so poignant in such technological times. Crawford is part mechanic, part academic and provides insights into the lost art of working with our hands and craftsmanship. Ending up in a ‘think-tank’ job from his academic pathway of political philosophy, the observations and questioning from Crawford makes you consider the ‘important’s in life’. His passion for motorcycle mechanics becomes incorporated into his future work, and subsequent overall satisfaction in life.

In education the loss of hands-on training, the workshop class such as woodwork, metalwork has disappeared probably forever.  The downgrading of manual work, and an education pathway to university rather than into the workplace is now becoming norm (lifelong learning). The single use ‘throw away’ culture as Crawford describes, and not understanding the equipment we now use daily in our lives is also a norm. This impacts on our learners as we (educators) expect from employees levels of understanding, critical thinking but how can this be achieved in such an environment? Crawford makes us question if we still value vocational training and work anymore?


Book: Crawford, M. B. (2009). Shop Class as Soulcraft: An inquiry into the value of work. Penguin. [sample here]

Article: Crawford, M. B. (2006). Shop Class as Soulcraft. The New Atlantis, (13), 7-24.

Practice Development in Nursing

What is Practice Development (PD)?

  • PD is a continuous process of developing person-centred cultures.
  • The learning that occurs, brings about transformations of both at the individual and team level and not just at the wider organisational level.
  • This is sustained by transforming the contexts and cultures in which nursing takes place.
  • Provides a systematic approach of effective and sustained changes in practice.
  • Continuous PD approach is required to effect change.
  • When applied, PD effects are both relevant to staff and patients.


“Practice development is a continuous process of improvement towards increased effectiveness in person centred care, through the enabling of nurses and healthcare teams to transform the culture and context of care. It is enabled and supported by facilitators committed to a systematic, rigorous continuous process of emancipatory change.” (McCormack et al., 1999. pg. 256).

What is PD about?

“Transformational culture” and quality becomes everyone’s business.

  • Moving from person-centred moments to person-centred care.
  • Improves patient care.
  • Changes culture of care (engagement, autonomy and connected).
  • Translating research into practice (evidence based care).
  • Continuous improvement and systematic changes.
  • Valued competencies.
  • Evidence based practice and knowledge translation.
  • Promotes and facilitates change.
  • Well-being for staff and patients- the organisation hold the same process for both.
  • Allow people to flourish and grow.
  • Provides audit and quality measures.

3 E’s

  • Empowerment
  • Engagement
  • Emancipation


  • Enables nurses and the healthcare team to transform culture and care.
  • Increased staff satisfaction.
  • Increased staff retention and recruitment.
  • Builds culture and shared values.
  • Develop skills and knowledge of staff.
  • Team engagement.
  • Delivers person centred care.

Practice Development and the Workplace

The practice development approach, links clinician-led innovation to the context of the workplace. The organisation (local and wider) may adopt this approach as a means to quality improvement of ‘practices’ which will lead to the development and implementation of evidence-based practice policies and influence strategic vision.

It also offers clinicians the opportunity to critically evaluate and evolve their workplace practices and their practice culture while taking into account the organisational context of their work. Practice development has strong links with methods of workplace learning and communities of practice theories.


Emancipation, transformation, culture, change process, engagement, PD.


2013 International Nursing Research Congress (Prague) Keynote Speaker – Brendan McCormack


McCormack, B., Manley, K, & Garbett, R. (2008). Practice Development in Nursing. [sample here]

McCormack, B., Henderson, E., Wilson, V., & Wright, J. (2009). Making practice visible: the workplace culture critical analysis tool (WCCAT). Practice Development in Health Care, 8(1), 28-43.

McCormack, B., Manley, K., Kitson, A., Titchen, A., & Harvey, G. (1999). Towards practice development–a vision in reality or a reality without vision?. Journal of Nursing Management, 7(5), 255-264.

Harvey, G., Loftus‐Hills, A., Rycroft‐Malone, J., Titchen, A., Kitson, A., McCormack, B., & Seers, K. (2002). Getting evidence into practice: the role and function of facilitation. Journal of advanced nursing, 37(6), 577-588.

McCance, T., McCormack, B., Dewing, J., (May 31, 2011) “An Exploration of Person-Centredness in PracticeOJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing Vol. 16, No. 2, Manuscript 1.

Nursing Education Network. (2017). Developing person-centred care: addressing contextual challenges through practice development.

Nursing Education Network. (2018). Person-Centred Care Practice Development in Dementia.



Communities of Practice (CoP) by Etienne Wenger

Socio-cultural Perspective

Learning is a social process according to Wenger’s (1999) conceptual framework of understanding learning systems. Wenger explains that part of being human is the willingness or desire to form communities, and through these is the essential component of learning opportunity and process.

Community of Practice

A community of practice is formed by people interacting and sharing a process or passion of collective learning. Being part of this community is what Wenger (2000) calls “social learning systems, to create a view of knowing and practice as meaning”.  By partaking in a shared human endeavour, the working method community has purpose and shared interest.

Wenger uses the terminology of social competence and personal experience for social learning that is classified into three modes of engagement, imagination and alignment.

Keywords: social learning, community of practice, situated learning


Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of Practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge university press. [sample here]

Wenger, E. (2000). Communities of practice and social learning systemsOrganization, 7(2), 225-246.

Etienne & Beverly Wenger-Trayner. (2015) Introduction to communities of practice: A brief overview of the concept and its uses.

Learning To Learn:Understanding Understanding

The nurse educator is to deliver, create and evaluate education programs as part of their role. The question is: How do we as nurse educators create and evaluate our education and training programs?

Based on the “Constructive Alignment” theory developed by Prof. John Biggs, “Teaching Teaching & Understanding Understanding” is an award-winning short-film about teaching at university and higher-level educational institutions. The aim of the the 3 videos is to help understand what a teacher needs to do in order to make sure all types of students actually learn what the education program intended.

Just replace higher-level educational institution with ‘workplace’ to keep the context for the workplace education setting but it is likely the same adult learners and educators exist in the healthcare setting.

Part 1: Teaching Teaching & Understanding Understanding

As you watch Part 1:

  • Consider the types of learners in your unit.
  • Consider the motivators to learn, is the education formal or informal, optional or prescribed?
  • Reflect on when you are motivated to learn or what inspires you.

Part 2: Teaching Teaching & Understanding Understanding

As you watch Part 2:

  • Consider your own view on how education should be delivered and do you think this approach engages the learner?
  • Do you consider levels of taxonomy depending on the participants?

Part 3: Teaching Teaching & Understanding Understanding

As you watch Part 3:

  • Consider the intended learning outcomes of the education you deliver. Are the training activities aligning with the learning outcomes?


Biggs, J., & Tang, C. (2011). Teaching For Quality Learning At University (4th ed.). Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill Education. [sample here]


7 Habits: Stephen Covey

Really busy, increasing workload, stretched resources, being creative, motivated, balancing, feeling tired, need a holiday, trying to plan ahead. During the really busy times when workload seems to be casting a shadow over life it is good to revisit some of our good habits to re-focus, work smarter and retain our own locus of control.

“We must look at the lens through which we see the world, as well as at the world we see, and that the lens itself shapes how we interpret the world. “ (Covey, 1989)

Work from the inside out, for a deeper level of thinking and lasting solution we need to view inside part of self of our character and motives. A paradigm is what we see, the paradigm shift is the ‘aha’ or ‘light bulb’ moment.

Covey’s series of habits see progression from dependence via independence to interdependence.

  • Habit 1: Be Proactive (take responsibility).
  • Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind (develop a personal mission statement).
  • Habit 3: Put first things first (organising and time management).
  • Habit 4: Think win-win (human interaction and collaboration).
  • Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood (effective communication).
  • Habit 6: Synergise (creative cooperation).
  • Habit 7: Sharpen the saw (self-renewal and mindfulness).

Keywords: synergistic, empowering, win/win, perceptions, lens, attitude, behaviour, interdependence.


Covey, S. (2004). The 7 habits of highly effective people : Restoring the character ethic. New York: Free Press.

Covey, S. (1989). The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. Fireside/Simon & Schuster. [sample here]





Open: How We’ll Work, Live & Learn In The Future by David Price

The ‘Open’ revolution is now upon us and will affect education at all levels. How we source learning opportunities, how we actually learn, how we engage will all be impacted on by this open revolution. Open is not just about technology, but a behaviour shift impacting on the social level of modern civil society.

What it is?

The Open revolution is a social revolution that represents a fundamental challenge to the established order of thinking. It disrupts and changes, so learning will never be the same again.

The collective social movement can affect almost every aspect of our lives, not just in education. The premise that learners are now producers, not just consumers and that we share what we learn is part of ‘open’. Creating a social space and learning from one another is part of open.

Learning Networks

How we learn and when we learn has thus been transformed. Learning now happens in 3 formal and informal places:

  1. Formal education setting such as school, college or university
  2. Workplace
  3. Home and leisure time (social learning space)

Peer to Peer

In the digital age, information flows faster and more freely than ever before and we are more connected which means barriers to learning are being dismantled. Look at the potential impact massive open online courses (MOOCs) and how they may impact and change adult learning. Going open for the traditional institution will be a benefit by turning learning ecosystems into learning commons.

This transformation on how we engage in learning and our capacity to learn, especially the informal settings (such as social media) challenges the traditional market approach to education.


Price, D. (2013). OPEN: How we’ll work, live and learning the future. Crux Publishing Ltd. [sample here]

Also follow on Twitter: @DavidPriceOBE