Walker, Geoffrey. “Critical Consciousness and Educational Leadership”, Boston College, 2022. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/bc-ir:109569.
Discussions in education today should focus on how schools can develop students who are critically thinking, ethical, and active citizens who contribute to creating a more just society. One way to frame the ability to think critically and act socially is what Freire (1993) described as conscientização, or critical consciousness. School leaders should work to cultivate communities that develop the critical consciousness of students. This case study of a public school district in the Northeastern United States explores the leadership practices that foster the development of critical consciousness in students. Critical consciousness is conceptualized in this study as the ability to analyze systems of oppression, have agency in one’s ability to make change, and take action for social change against injustice. Data sources include13 interviews with administrators, teachers, and students, as well as a document review. Findings indicate that the strategies and practices that leaders use to support students’ critical consciousness can be categorized into the overarching groups of value and vision setting, attending to student voice, and instructional leadership that provides a critical perspective. These categories are not mutually exclusive or exhaustive. Leadership for critical consciousness was also found to be particularly important during times of crisis related to injustice. Recommendations for leaders include building schools with a coherent and explicit vision around critical consciousness, exercising instructional leadership to support courses, curriculum, and professional development that promote critical consciousness, institutionalizing structures that amplify the voice of students, and preparing for challenges and crises that center around issues of justice.