Document Type



This project studies critical pedagogy in the writing classroom as a way to support students who struggle with anxiety to be successful, in and out of the classroom, as thinkers, writers, and citizens. I argue that it is important to recognize that educational inequalities and hierarchies contribute to anxiety, and suggest how critical pedagogy (rigorous and critical interrogation of texts and ideas by readers, a community of learners working together to make meaning, and a commitment to action in the world) can reduce anxiety in the school setting, in particular, and set students up for academic success that creates powerful, active learners in and out of the classroom. The US has a history of inequality in education, functioning, as it often does, hierarchically, creating classrooms that disempower students, removing them from agency in their own education. Among the many reasons students struggle with anxiety, both those students who are clinically diagnosed as well as students who experience, at various times, less easily defined anxiety, one such reason, according to Paulo Freire, is a sense of powerlessness over circumstances, including their ability to succeed academically. Learned helplessness towards academic success further compounds these feelings of powerlessness. Critical pedagogy as outlined by the educators Paulo Freire and bell hooks, attempts to reposition power in the classroom from the teacher to the students through praxis, which requires rigorous interaction with and interrogation of texts broadly defined, and promotes healing and learning among students who struggle with anxiety.



Thesis Comittee

Dr. Lee Torda, Thesis Mentor

Dr. Joyce Rain Anderson, Committee Member

Dr. Teresa King, Committee Member

Copyright and Permissions

Original document was submitted as an Honors Program requirement. Copyright is held by the author.