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Schools have the potential to be places where students can come to understand how and why knowledge and power are constructed (Aronowitz & Giroux, 1993). This paper provides an overview of critical literacy from a critical theory/Freirian perspective. Within it, critical literacy is posited as a necessary component of all classroom practices, one that is elemental to Dewey’s (1916) view of democracy, social justice, and what it means to be literate. Features of a critical literacy approach to instruction are provided along with rationales for the necessity of its inclusion in a democratic society.

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This document was originally published by University of Nottingham Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice in Critical Literacy: Theories and Practices. This work is provided under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license. Details regarding the use of this work can be found at:

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