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ABSTRACT: Critical pedagogy in health education

Objective: This review investigated how the three-phase model of critical pedagogy, based on the writings of Paulo Freire, can be put into practice in health education.
Design: The study considers literature related to the fields of health education, health promotion and critical pedagogy.
Setting: The study is a scholarly review completed as part of a larger academic study.
Method: A library search was conducted of relevant books, journal articles and theses using keyword searches including health education, health promotion, critical pedagogy and Freire. Ideas from the literature and from teaching experience were integrated to consider how the three-phase model of critical pedagogy might be of benefit to health education.
Result: The review makes a case for the use of critical pedagogy in health education and discusses how Freire’s ideas can be combined with pedagogical techniques to overcome the difficulties of encouraging students and teachers to be co-learners in a power sharing arrangement, negotiating the content of the learning, ensuring that discussion is inclusive of a range of voices, perspectives and points of view, and dealing with the conflict which may be caused by the political nature of the teaching and learning.
Conclusion: The three-phase model of critical pedagogy, based on the writings of Freire, is advocated for use in health education because it ensures that learners have an opportunity to critically engage with health information rather than to simply be passive recipients of it. It aims to focus learning on the problems, issues and real world experience of the learners, facilitates problem-posing education, and challenges the learner to question practices that support inequality. The three phases are: listening and naming; dialogue and reflection; the promoting of transformative social action.

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Brian S McGowan, PhD

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Brian is a research scientist and educational technologist. He helped transform Pfizer’s Medical Education Group and previously served in educational leadership roles at HealthAnswers, Inc.; Acumentis, LLC.; Cephalon; and Wyeth. He taught graduate medical education programs at Arcadia University for 10 years. Dr. McGowan recently authored the book "#socialQI: Simple Solutions for Improving Your Healthcare" and has been invited to speak internationally on the subject of information flow, technology, and learning in healthcare.

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