Critical pedagogy is a teaching approach which attempts to help students question and challenge domination, and the beliefs and practices that dominate. In other words, it is a theory and practice of helping students achieve critical consciousness. Critical consciousness, or conscientizacao (Portuguese is a popular education and social concept developed by renowned Brazilian Pedagogue and educational theorist Critical pedagogue Ira Shor defines critical pedagogy as
"Habits of thought, reading, writing, and speaking which go beneath surface meaning, first impressions, dominant myths, official pronouncements, traditional clichés, received wisdom, and mere opinions, to understand the deep meaning, root causes, social context, ideology, and personal consequences of any action, event, object, process, organization, experience, text, subject matter, policy, mass media, or discourse. Ira Shor is a professor at the City University of New York, where he teaches composition and Rhetoric. " (Empowering Education, 129)
In his book, Critical Pedagogy (2008, second edition), Joe L. Kincheloe helps us understand the central dynamics of critical pedagogy:
"Advocates of critical pedagogy are aware that every minute of every hour that teachers teach, they are faced with complex decisions concerning justice, democracy, and competing ethical claims. Joe Lyons Kincheloe, born December 14 1950 in Kingsport Tennessee is a professor and Canada Research Chair at the Faculty of Education McGill University in While they have to make individual determinations of what to do in these particular circumstances, they must concurrently deal with what John Goodlad (1994) calls the surrounding institutional morality. A central tenet of critical pedagogy maintains that the classroom, curricular, school structures teachers enter are not neutral sites waiting to be shaped by educational professionals. While such professionals do possess agency, this prerogative is not completely free and independent of decisions made previously by people operating with different values and shaped by the ideologies and cultural assumptions of their historical contexts. These contexts are shaped in the same ways language and knowledge are constructed, as historical power makes particular practices seem natural—as if they could have been constructed in no other way. " (Chapter 1).
Later in this same work Kincheloe lists the basic concerns of critical pedagogy:
Critical pedagogy was heavily influenced by the works of Paulo Freire, arguably the most celebrated critical educator. Paulo Freire ( Recife, Brazil September 19, 1921 – São Paulo, Brazil May 2, 1997) was a Brazilian According to his writings, Freire heavily endorses students’ ability to think critically about their education situation; this way of thinking allows them to "recognize connections between their individual problems and experiences and the social contexts in which they are embedded. " Realizing one’s consciousness ("conscientization") is a needed first step of "praxis," which is defined as the power and know-how to take action against oppression while stressing the importance of liberating education. "Praxis involves engaging in a cycle of theory, application, evaluation, reflection, and then back to theory. Social transformation is the product of praxis at the collective level. "
Postmodern, anti-racist, feminist, postcolonial, and queer theories all play a role in further explaining Freire’s ideas of critical pedagogy, shifting its main focus on social class to include issues pertaining to religion, military identification, race, gender, sexuality, nationality, ethnicity, and age. Postmodernism literally means 'after the modernist movement' While " Modern " itself refers to something "related to the present" the movement of modernism Anti-racism includes beliefs actions movements and policies adopted or developed to oppose Racism. Feminism is a discourse that involves various movements theories, and Philosophies which are concerned with the issue of Gender difference, advocate Postcolonialism ( postcolonial theory, post-colonial theory) is an intellectual discourse that holds together a set of theories found among the texts and Queer has traditionally meant odd or unusual but is now also used to refer to anyone who is not heteronormative. A religion is a set of Tenets and practices often centered upon specific Supernatural and moral claims about Reality, the Cosmos Military rank is a system of hierarchical relationships in Armed forces or civil institutions organized along military lines The term race or racial group usually refers to the concept of categorizing Humans into Populations or groups on the basis of various sets Gender comprises a range of differences between men and women extending from the biological to the social Sexual orientation is believed to refer to "an enduring pattern of emotional romantic and/or sexual attractions to men women or both sexes Nationality is a relationship between a Person and their State of Origin, Culture, association Affiliation and/or Loyalty Many contemporary critical pedagogues have embraced postmodern, anti-essentialist perspectives of the individual, of language, and of power, "while at the same time retaining the Freirean emphasis on critique, disrupting oppressive regimes of power/knowledge, and social change. In Philosophy, non-essentialism is the belief that any given entity or subject can not be propositionally defined in terms of specified values or characteristics which " Contemporary critical educators, such as bell hooks appropriated by Peter McLaren, discuss in their criticisms the influence of many varied concerns, institutions, and social structures, "including globalization, the mass media, and race/spiritual relations," while citing reasons for resisting the possibilities to change. Gloria Jean Watkins (born September 25, 1952) better known by the Pen name bell hooks, is an American Author, Peter McLaren (b August 2, 1948) is internationally recognized as one of the leading architects of Critical pedagogy worldwide  Joe L. Kincheloe and Shirley R. Joe Lyons Kincheloe, born December 14 1950 in Kingsport Tennessee is a professor and Canada Research Chair at the Faculty of Education McGill University in Steinberg have created the Paulo and Nita Freire Project for International Critical Pedagogy at McGill University . In line with Kincheloe and Steinberg's contributions to critical pedagogy, the project attempts to move the field to the next phase of its evolution. In this second phase critical pedagogy seeks to truly become a worldwide, decolonizing movement dedicated to listening to and learning from diverse discourses from peoples around the planet. Kincheloe and Steinberg are intent on not allowing critical pedagogy to become merely a North American phenomenon or a patriarchal one. In this listening and introspective phase critical pedagogy becomes better equipped to engage diverse peoples facing different forms of oppression in emancipatory experiences. Taking a cue from Sandy Grande and her discussion in Red Pedagogy of the fruitful negotiation between indigenous peoples and critical pedagogy, Kincheloe and Steinberg envision such dialogue with peoples around the world.
During South African apartheid, legal racialization implemented by the regime drove members of the radical leftist Teachers' League of South Africa to employ critical pedagogy with a focus on nonracialism in Cape Town schools and prisons. Teachers collaborated loosely to subvert the racist curriculum and encourage critical examination of religious, military, political, and social circumstances in terms of spirit-friendly, humanist, and democratic ideologies. The efforts of such teachers are credited with having bolstered student resistance and activism. 
Authors of critical pedagogy texts not only include Paulo Freire, as mentioned above, but also Michael Apple, Henry Giroux, Peter McLaren, Joe L. Kincheloe, Howard Zinn, and others. Paulo Freire ( Recife, Brazil September 19, 1921 – São Paulo, Brazil May 2, 1997) was a Brazilian Michael W Apple (1942 -) is a leading critical educational theorist recognized for numerous books and scholarly interests which center on education and power cultural politics curriculum Henry Giroux, born September 18 1943 in Providence, is a US cultural critic Peter McLaren (b August 2, 1948) is internationally recognized as one of the leading architects of Critical pedagogy worldwide Joe Lyons Kincheloe, born December 14 1950 in Kingsport Tennessee is a professor and Canada Research Chair at the Faculty of Education McGill University in Howard Zinn (born August 24 1922 is an American Historian, political scientist, social critic, activist and Playwright, best known Educationalists including Jonathan Kozol and Parker Palmer are sometimes included in this category. Jonathan Kozol (born September 5, 1936 in Boston Massachusetts) is a non-fiction writer educator and activist best known for his books on Public Parker J Palmer (born 1939 in Chicago, Illinois) is an author educator and activist who focuses on issues in education community leadership spirituality Other critical pedagogues more known for their anti-schooling, unschooling, or deschooling perspectives include Ivan Illich, John Holt, Ira Shor, John Taylor Gatto, and Matt Hern. The term " unschooling " refers to a range of educational philosophies and practices that differ markedly from conventional schooling while often considered to be a subset of Deschooling is a term used by both education philosophers and proponents of Alternative education and/or Homeschooling, though it refers to different things Ivan Illich (ɪˈvɑn ˈɪlɪtʃ ( Vienna, 4 September 1926 &ndash Bremen, 2 December 2002) was an Austrian John Caldwell Holt ( April 14, 1923 - September 14, 1985) was an American author and educator one of the best known proponents of Ira Shor is a professor at the City University of New York, where he teaches composition and Rhetoric. John Taylor Gatto (born December 15, 1935) is an American retired school Teacher of 29 years and 8 months and author of several books on Much of the work draws on anarchism, feminism, marxism, Lukacs, Wilhelm Reich, post-colonialism, and the discourse theories of Edward Said, Antonio Gramsci and Michel Foucault. Anarchism is a Political philosophy encompassing theories and attitudes which support the elimination of all compulsory Government, i Feminism is a discourse that involves various movements theories, and Philosophies which are concerned with the issue of Gender difference, advocate Marxism is the political philosophy and practice derived from the work of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Postcolonialism ( postcolonial theory, post-colonial theory) is an intellectual discourse that holds together a set of theories found among the texts and Edward Wadie Saïd MRSL ( إدوارد وديع سعيد,; 1 November 1935 &ndash 25 September Antonio Gramsci ('ɡramʃi ( January 23, 1891 &ndash April 27, 1937) was an Italian Philosopher, Writer, Michel Foucault ( (15 October 1926 – 25 June 1984 was a French philosopher, Historian, Intellectual, Critic and Sociologist. Radical Teacher is a magazine dedicated to critical pedagogy and issues of interest to critical educators. Radical Teacher is a Socialist, Feminist, and anti-racist Magazine dedicated to issues of Education. The Rouge Forum is an online organization led by people involved with critical pedagogy.
This approach has its critics. Below are some hypothetical contrary views with critical responses:
See the work of critical pedagogues Henry Giroux, Joe L. Kincheloe, Donaldo Macedo, Shirley Steinberg, Antonia Darder, Lourdes Diaz Soto, Deborah Britzman, Peter McLaren, Patti Lather, Sandy Grande, Ira Shor, Stanley Aronowitz, Tony Monchinski, and many others for insights into the preceding issues.