Sunday, 7 July 2013

Nature, Misinformation, Science Education and Paulo Freire

In his book Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire called for a more critical approach to education.

Joel Kontinen

In his book Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire discusses the traditinal “banking” method of education in which the teacher pours knowledge onto the students and the students accept it without thinking about it. Freire says that this approach leads to a dehumabization of both the students and the teachers.

Freire calls for a more critical approach to education, with the teacher and students searching for knowledge together.

Compare this with a recent article in the journal Nature on science education in the United States. It claims: “In the past decade, those who oppose evolution have sought to enact ‘academic freedom’ laws that would allow creationism to be taught alongside evolution.”

Actually, Academic Freedom Bills only allow for a more balanced approach. They allow teachers and students to think. In Tennessee, the Law states:

"Neither the state board of education, nor any public elementary or secondary school governing authority, director of schools, school system administrators, or any public elementary or secondary school principal or administrators shall prohibit any teacher in a public school system of this state from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught within the curriculum framework developed by the state board of education.”

Paulo Freire would probably approve.


Freire, Paolo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. 1993. 30th Anniversary Edition. Trnaslated by Myra Bergman Ramos. New York: Continuum.

Morello, Lauren. 2013. Evolution makes the grade Nature 499, 15–16 (4 July).