Gutierrez's theology and Freire's pedagogy with implications for Christian education

Marcia Marie Druliner, Marquette University


Using the historical method of research, this dissertation attempts to devise a liberating Christian education that incorporates the theological principles of Gustavo Gutierrez and the educational methodology of Paulo Freire. Primary sources will be examined in order to describe Gutierrez's theology and Freire's pedagogy. Secondary sources will be utilized to outline highlights in Latin American liberation theology, to present a critique of Gutierrez and Freire, and to trace the development of Freire's conscientization and Gutierrez's theology. Both primary and secondary sources will be used to show the relationship between Gutierrez's theological principles and Freire's pedagogy and to provide some implications for Christian education. Many scholars acknowledge Gutierrez as the preeminent Latin American liberation theologian. In the 1960's, Gutierrez began moving away from an exclusively academic theology toward a theology focusing on the realistic living conditions of the poor. Gutierrez asserts that his A Theology of Liberation attempts to determine the proper role of theology in trying to remain faithful both to the Church and to the poor. Gutierrez describes his theology as "critical reflection on Christian praxis in the light of the Word." Furthermore, Gutierrez has used the pedagogy of Freire in developing and expanding his liberation theology. Freire insists that theory and praxis cannot be separated. His Metodo Paulo Freire was a literacy program used to teach campesinos to read and write. Freire attributes the success of this method to his concept of conscientization, the word he employs to describe humanizing, problem-posing education versus dehumanizing, banking education. Freire's ideas stem from the Young Christian Workers, and it was from Freire's pedagogy that the Movement for Basic Education developed. This Basic Education Movement, in turn, influenced the growth and development of Gutierrez's theology and the Basic Christian Communities that Gutierrez helped to found. I conclude that Gutierrez and Freire present both positive and negative ramifications for Christian education. The positive implications involve attempts to make Christian education more sensitive to social justice, humanistic, and democratic issues. The negative implications focus primarily on human ability alone to transform unjust structures and to reform human persons.

Recommended Citation

Druliner, Marcia Marie, "Gutierrez's theology and Freire's pedagogy with implications for Christian education" (1992). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9305995.