An examination of Freire’s notion of problem-posing pedagogy
Brown, Philip Melvin
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This qualitative study was an examination into Freire’s theory of problem-posing pedagogy. The purpose of the study was to explore the perception of teachers implementing Freire’s theory of problem-posing pedagogy into middle-level classrooms. Problem-posing pedagogy is Freire’s theory of using community issues in order to provide students with an active learning environment. In his work with problem-posing pedagogy, Freire advocated for less rote memorization practice and a more integrated, relevant process for teaching and learning. The study provided an opportunity to study the implementation of the problem-posing theory into the practice of classroom teachers. Three research questions guided the design and methods of the study. What are the perceptions of teachers attempting to implement Freire’s problem-posing pedagogy into practice? What opportunities exist when teachers attempt to implement Freire’s problem-posing pedagogy in a middle school classroom? What are the barriers facing teachers attempting to implement Freire’s problem-posing pedagogy in a middle school classroom? Using collaborative action research, middle school teachers engaged in readings and group discussions over an 8-month period. In this study of pedagogy, teachers compared and contrasted Freire’s description of problem-posing pedagogy with the banking concept of education. Teachers were asked to interpret selected readings and implement their understanding of problem-posing pedagogy into their own classrooms. Participant group discussions, document creation, and individual interviews provided data to discover middle school teachers’ perceptions of problem-posing pedagogy. Also, the barriers and opportunities that come with implementing problem-posing pedagogy were investigated. The findings of the study were organized into categories based upon the research questions. The across-case findings interested the researcher more than the within-case findings. The first group of findings provided a look at participants’ perceptions of implementing problem-posing pedagogy into the middle school classroom. The perceptions were grouped into initial or post-study feelings about problem-posing. The initial feelings centered on hesitancy and tension between changing theory into practice. The post-study findings showed an appreciation for the theory and the changes within the classroom. The other findings from the study were grouped under opportunities or barriers towards implementing problem-posing pedagogy. The opportunities included: an increased depth of student learning; a new role for students; and a chance to facilitate instruction rather than dictate. The barriers included: administration; curriculum; history of classrooms and teachers; time; standardized testing; and teacher professional development and pre-service teacher professional learning. The findings have implications for teachers, administrators, and higher education professionals. More research focusing directly on classroom pedagogy is needed. It is imperative for teachers to continue to think and reflect about their pedagogy. Administrators must examine the barriers described by participants and look for ways to minimize barriers that may stop teachers from innovating. Higher education professionals need to model classroom expectations and pedagogy within teacher education classes.