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ERIC Number: EJ957121
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 12
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 56
ISSN: ISSN-1946-7109
Consciousness-Raising or Eyebrow-Raising? Reading Urban Fiction with High School Students in Freirean Cultural Circles
Brown, Amy
Penn GSE Perspectives on Urban Education, v9 n1 Fall 2011
For educational philosopher and activist Paulo Freire, cultural circles are a way to generate critical conversations among "teacher-students" and "student-teachers" and can provide the motivation for critical consciousness and political action (1970). Both teachers and students learn from one another as their democratic dialogue provides a means to name and upend social structures of privilege and oppression. As a fifth-year English teacher in New York City, in her second year of ethnographic teacher-research, the author saw the need for an activist intervention in a public, small school of choice (SSC), which she calls the College Preparatory Academy (CPA). She subsequently attempted her own version of a cultural circle. In this paper, the author outlines a theoretical framework and the methods employed in her study, along with the goals and activities of their cultural circle experience, including the challenges that they faced. Through the cultural circle experience, they aimed to develop a critical, dialogic pedagogy through discussions and activities responding to student-selected urban fiction texts. The author found that while the cultural circles garnered increased student motivation and critical engagement, participants also expressed ambivalence at critically engaging with literature and topics that were outside of school-sanctioned models of success and upward mobility. This paper will describe how these challenges arose in the cultural circle, and conclude with recommendations for teachers who want to re-write Freirean cultural circles in context. (Contains 11 endnotes.)
University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education. 3700 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Grade 10; High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New York