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How Do New Critical Pedagogies Develop? Public Education, Social Change, and Landless Workers in Brazil

Tarlau, R
Year of Publication: 

How do new pedagogical approaches toward public schooling develop? Why do teachers begin to embrace these alternative educational practices? And what relationship, if any, do new pedagogies have to alternative social and political visions? In this article, I argue that educational reform is not always a top-down process, implemented by educational officials and politicians in far-off bureaucratic offices; social movements can themselves become protagonists in the development, implementation, and oversight of new pedagogical practices. In the 1980s, peasant–activists from the Brazilian Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) began developing an innovative approach to rural schooling, and in the 1990s, these activists began to train public school teachers to implement these pedagogical ideas. This analysis illustrates that social movements not only are capable of demanding access to public education for marginalized populations, but also are well positioned to develop new pedagogies for these schools. However, pedagogies promoted by social movements are often explicitly connected to proposals for broader social and political change, raising questions about the appropriate role for public schooling in societal transformation.