Which one theory made the most significant contribution to teaching and learning and why is this so based on examples from experience?
While it might uncomfortable to admit, I think that the critical pedagogy movement that thinkers like Paolo Freire advocate is a significant contribution to the modern understanding of teaching and learning. Friere's Pedagogy of the Oppressed does much to critique the "banking system of education." In an age that is dominated by standards based educational reform, high stakes standardized teaching, and the drive for accountability, Freire's work acquires even more significance. The vision of education as a tool of social criticism and its parlay into a tool of social oppression and paralysis is extremely relevant to the modern educator. As modern teachers are bombarded with so many external conditions and demands, the idea of instructing children to be social critics and to teach them to examine the world and their place within it as a thinking person could be easily misplaced. When this idea is lost, education can become a tool of the powerful that is designed to replicate the power structure.
It is here in which Freire's theory of the critical pedagogy movement is relevant to modern teaching and learning. There are real issues of social oppression that exist in our society. At times, our children and students are the representation of those realities. We do no service to them as educators if we are not instructing them on how those realities came to be and how they can be changed. Students have to be incorporated as part of the "democratic experiment" of "forming a more perfect union" and using their voice as advocates of change in order to make today as good as it can be and to make tomorrow better. Critical pedagogy teaches that students and teachers can be active participants for change in a world that might not always remember to stress it. In this, there is relevance in a daily manner of the movement in the lives of teachers and students.