Background and Objective:Creating a learning environment rich in social relationships in which peer interaction and collective learning can be developed is the core of the studio-based education for teaching architectural design. The social dimensions of the studio and the opportunities it provides for collaboration and participation serve as a stimulus for learning, and it is the culture of the studio that means sustainability to students. One of the interactive teaching methods that seems to be in line with the multiplicity of today's world and the different nature of architecture and the workshop education system is the critical pedagogy method invented by the Brazilian thinker Paolo Freire. Freire considers the main purpose of education to be the development of creative and critical human beings who look critically at all the thoughts, ideas and values in society, as well as the actions of individuals and the way they deal with various events and happenings to find their roots. Freire's model in critical education mostly includes critical dialogue in which students (whole class) present their views and review evaluations and critiques. Participate in evaluating the thoughts of others and together with them, by combining views and examining arguments, take a more accurate and comprehensive approach to the issue and discover effective solutions. Therefore, it can be inferred that the critical education methodwith its special characteristics has the potential to improve the quality of architectural design classes.
The aim of this study is to illustrate the procedure of applying critical pedagogy in Iran higher education context –architecture discipline- to identify challenges and improve the method in the selected environment.
Methods:The qualitative method (interpretation) was selected as research method and content analysis was performed on the collected data. 24 postgraduate architecture students were selected as the sample, and by using a bipartite subject, comparison between two methods (traditional and critical) become possible. To verify and extend the model, the experiment was repeated next year with 22 different students.
Findings: The results indicated that the effects of critical pedagogy have been perceived by students in eight categories: (1) improving intrinsic motivation (2) improving social skills, oral skills and self-confidence, (3) improving the speed and quality of development process of architectural ideas, (4) creating diversity and cheerfulness, (5) reducing stress and anxiety, (6) waste of time and vain discussions, (7) educational marginalization, and (8) self-censorship. The first 5 categories are positive feedbacks and the other three are negative feedbacks considered as challenges of applying critical pedagogy. At the end, some strategies are purposed to overcome these challenges and improve the quality of the classes.
Conclusion:Some solutions to overcome the challenges are suggested including: students choosing an external reality topic, phasing group corrections, continuing the method to institutionalize it, changing students' view of the teacher as the source of information or the professor as a superior and miraculous person and change the view and reduce students' distrust of themselves. Characteristics for the critical teacher are also mentioned, such as humility, humor, high capacity of the teacher against laughter and jokes, great patience of the teacher in the face of useless discussions, and familiarity of the critical teacher with theories of psychology and psychoanalysis.
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