Document Type


Publication Date

January 2016

Publication Title

Reference & User Services Quarterly


A review of the book Critical Literacy for Information Professionals edited by Sarah McNicol. “Liberating education consists in acts of cognition, not transferrals of information,” wrote Paulo Freire in the Pedagogy of the Oppressed(Herder and Herder 1970, 79). Freire argued that rather than viewing students as empty vessels to be filled with knowledge—termed the “banking model” of education—teachers should recognize and value students’ individual perspectives and life experiences. Today’s critical literacy movement has its roots in Freire’s philosophy. When taught critical literacy methods, students begin from the viewpoint that there can be no single “correct” way to interpret information. Instead, texts should be questioned and read with an eye to the cultural forces that shaped them and the sociopolitical agendas they advance. Critical literacy also incorporates an element of social justice, calling students to actively promote the human rights of all marginalized communities.


This book review was originally published in Reference & User Services Quarterly, volume 56, issue 2, 2016. It is also available online at this link.