Peter McLaren (born August 2, 1948) is a Professor in the Division of Urban Schooling, the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles (United States). He is currently Distinguished Fellow in Critical Studies at Chapman University, California. He is the author and editor of forty-five books and hundreds of scholarly articles and chapters. His writings have been translated into 20 languages.
He is known as one of the leading architects of critical pedagogy and for his scholarly writings on critical literacy, the sociology of education, cultural studies, critical ethnography, and Marxist theory. He has developed a reputation for his uncompromising political analysis influenced by a Marxist humanist philosophy and a unique literary style of expression. He has worked with Abahlali baseMjondolo, in South Africa; the landless workers’ movement, Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra – MST, in Brasil, the Zapatistas in Mexico, and members of the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela.
Born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and raised in both Toronto and Winnipeg, Manitoba, he earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature at University of Waterloo in 1973 (specializing in Elizabethan drama), attended Toronto Teachers College and went on to earn a Bachelor of Education at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Education, a Masters of Education at Brock University’s College of Education, and a Ph.D. at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto (where he worked with the late Richard Courtney, a leading international authority in children's drama).
McLaren taught elementary and middle school from 1974-1979. Most of that time was spent teaching in Canada’s largest public housing complex located in Toronto’s Jane-Finch Corridor. Cries from the Corridor, McLaren's book about his teaching experiences, made the Canadian bestseller list and was one of top ten bestselling books in Canada in 1980 (Maclean's Magazine, The Toronto Star), initiating a country-wide debate on inner-city schools. (Later McLaren would harshly criticize this book and go on to transform it into the highly acclaimed pedagogical text, Life in Schools).
After earning his doctorate in 1983, he served as Special Lecturer in Education at Brock University where, as a one year sabbatical replacement, he specialized in inner city education and language arts. After the Dean did not follow through on his promised extension of McLaren's contract, McLaren decided to pursue an academic appointment in the United States. However, he remains on good terms with faculty at Brock University, with whom he remains in a relationship of solidarity and friendship.
McLaren left Canada in 1985 to teach at Miami University's School of Education and Allied Professions where he spent eight years working with colleague Henry Giroux during a time when the epistemology known as critical pedagogy was gaining traction in North American schools of education. McLaren also served as Director of the Center for Education and Cultural Studies, and held the title of Renowned Scholar-in-Residence at Miami University before being recruited by the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles, in 1993.
In 2013, McLaren was appointed Distinguished Fellow in Critical Studies at Chapman University, California.
McLaren is the author, co-author, editor, and co-editor of approximately forty books and monographs. Several hundred of his articles, chapters, interviews, reviews, commentaries, and columns have appeared in dozens of scholarly journals and professional magazines worldwide.
His most recent books include:
- McLaren, P., Macrine, S., and Hill, D, (Eds). (2010). Revolutionizing Pedagogy: Educating for Social Justice Within and Beyond Global Neo-liberalism. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
- Nocella, A., Best, S., & McLaren, P. (Eds.) (2010). Academic Repression: Reflections from the Academic Industrial Complex. San Francisco: AK Press.
- Martin, G., Houston, D., McLaren, P. & Suoranta, J. (Eds.) (2010) Havoc of Capitalism. Educating for Social and Environmental Justice. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.
- Sandlin, J.A. & McLaren, P. (Eds.). (2009). Critical Pedagogies of Consumption: Living and Learning in the Shadow of the "Shopocalypse”. New York and London: Routledge.
- McLaren, P. & Jaramillo, N. (2007). Pedagogy and Praxis. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. (Review )
- McLaren, P. (2006). Rage + Hope. New York: Peter Lang. (Review )
- McLaren, P. (2005). Capitalists and Conquerors. Boulder: Rowman and Littlefield.
- McLaren, P. & Farahmandpur,'R. (2005) Teaching Against Global Capitalism and the New Imperialism. Boulder: Rowman and Littlefield, 2005)
- McLaren, P. (2005). Red Seminars: Radical Excursions into Educational Theory, Cultural Politics, and Pedagogy. Hampton Press.
- 'Marxism Against Postmodernism in Educational Theory (with Dave Hill, Mike Cole, and Glenn Rikowski)
- Che Guevara, Paulo Freire, and the Pedagogy of Revolution (Rowman and Littlefield, 2000)
- Revolutionary Multiculturalism: Pedagogies of Dissent for the New Millennium, (Westview Press, 1997)
- Counternarratives, (with Henry Giroux, Colin Lankshear and Mike Peters, Routledge, 1997)
- Critical Pedagogy and Predatory Culture, (Routledge, 1995)
He is also author of Life in Schools: An Introduction to Critical Pedagogy in the Foundations of Education (Allyn & Bacon) which is in its fifth edition (2006). Life in Schools has been named one of the 12 most significant writings worldwide in the field of educational theory, policy and practice] by an international panel of experts assembled by the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences; other writers named by the panel include Paulo Freire, Ivan Illich, and Pierre Bourdieu. In 2011, Instituto Peter McLaren was established in Ensenada, Mexico.
Professor McLaren's work has been the subject of three recent books: Teaching Peter McLaren: Paths of Dissent, edited by Marc Pruyn and Luis M. Huerta-Charles (Peter Lang, 2005) [translated into Spanish as De La Pedagogia Critica a la pedagogia de la Revolucion: Ensayos Para Comprender a Peter McLaren, Mexico City, Siglo Veintiuno Editores], Peter McLaren, Education, and the Struggle for Liberation, edited by Mustafa Eryaman (Hampton Press, 2008), and Crisis of Commonwealth: Marcuse, Marx, McLaren, edited by Charles Reitz (Lexington Books, 2013).
McLaren has also recently debuted as a poet with his poem "The Despoiling of the American Mind" in MRZine.
McLaren lectures worldwide on the politics of education. Locations of his speaking engagements have included China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Germany, Cuba, Australia, Finland, England, Greece, North Korea, Spain, Portugal, Venezuela, Brazil, Costa Rica, Iran, Mexico, Argentina, Poland, Israel, Palestine, Malaysia, Pakistan and Croatia. In Finland he gave an Opening Lecture in Paulo Freire Research Center–Finland  Inauguration (November 21, 2007).
Peter McLaren was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Lapland, Finland in 2004 and by Universidad del Salvador, Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2010. He also received the Amigo Honorifica de la Comunidad Universitaria de esta Institucion by La Universidad Pedagogica Nacional, Unidad 141, Guadalajara, Mexico.
Five books by McLaren have been winners of the American Education Studies Association Critics Choice Awards for outstanding books in education.
- In 2002: He was the inaugural recipient of the Paulo Freire Social Justice Award presented by Chapman University.
- In 2006: He was the inaugural recipient of the International Activist Scholar Award for the Advancement of Marxist Theory and Practice, awarded by the Institute for Education Policy Studies.
- In 2007: He was awarded the Liberty Medal by Soka Gakkai International-USA, a Buddhist organization with 12 million members worldwide.
- In 2012:
- He was inducted as an American Educational Research Association (AERA) Fellow, Class of 2012. He was also chosen as the recipient of the Ann-Kristine Pearson Award in Education and Economy presented by The University of Toronto's Center for the Study of Education and Work, awarded to him for his “outstanding career achievement across the themes of educational studies, social and economic justice.” In addition, he was chosen as the inaugural recipient of the Social and Economic Justice in Public Education Award presented by the Marxian Analysis of Society, Schools and Education, a special interest group of the American Education Research Association. He was also was made Honorary Chair Professor of Northeast Normal University in China, an honor bestowed upon “distinguished scholars in various academic fields and outstanding professors who work in the world-class universities.” He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in Peace Studies by the Central New York Peace Studies Consortium, one of the oldest peace studies organizations in the world that has been recognized by the United Nations and University of Peace.
- He was also presented with the inaugural Paulo Freire International Social Justice Award by the Paulo Freire Research Center, Finland. He was also awarded the Department of Education at Antioch University Los Angeles' 1st Annual Social Justice and Upstander Ethics in Education award for his "tireless work establishing revolutionary critical pedagogy throughout the world." In addition, Professor McLaren was recently presented with the First International Award for Social Justice and Equity through Education award, by the Instituto Universitario Internacional de Toluca (Mexico), created "to distinguish foreign educators who have made significant contributions to American universities " and to acknowledge Professor McLaren's "pedagogical, cultural, research and outreach in the struggle for peace and the progress of peoples" as well as his work "on behalf of the revolutionary thesis of multiculturalism, which rescues the defense of marginalized minorities, and their invaluable contribution to the creation of an equitable society, based on values of cooperation and solidarity."
- In addition he was the recipient of the "Friend in Solidarity with the Struggle of Mexican Teachers" award by the National Union of Educational Workers, and the "Distinción Académica Educación, Debates e Imaginario Social" from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Furthermore, the Higher Council of Community Government, the Council for Civil Affairs and the Education Commission of Cheran, Michoacan, presented McLaren with the Defense of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Award commemorating the second anniversary of the defense of the forests.
- In 2013
- He was the recipient of the "Award of Achievement in Critical Studies" by the Critical Studies Association (Athens, Greece), the "International Award in Critical Pedagogy" presented by the government of Venezuela’s Ministry of Education, the "First Annual Social Justice, Equity and Global Ethics Award" presented by the National Conference on Equity and Social Justice in Education, and Westchester University’s "First Annual Excellence in Anti-Global-Capitalist and Activism Award by the conference founders of Critical Theories in the 21st Century: A Conference of Transformative Pedagogies."
- He also received the 2013 “Academia Honor Award” by the Education and Science Workers’ Union for his work in social sciences and his struggle in labor and democracy, Ankara University Turkey, and the “Award of Honor in Critical Pedagogy” from the Department of Adult Education and Lifelong Learning, Ankara University, Turkey. Instituto Pedagógico de Estudios Superiores de Jalisco, Mexico, recently presented Professor McLaren with the “Contribution to Humanity Award.”
- In addition, he received the Outstanding Educator of America Award for 2013 from The Association of Educators of Latin America and the Caribbean. It was given to him by the President of the Association for his "extraordinary contribution to pedagogical theory worldwide" and for his "help in the development of education of our people."
La Fundacion McLaren de Pedagogía Critica
In 2005, a group of scholars and activists in Northern Mexico established La Fundacion McLaren de Pedagogía Critica to develop a knowledge of McLaren's work throughout Mexico and to promote projects in critical pedagogy and popular education. On September 15, 2006 the Catedra Peter McLaren was inaugurated at the Bolivarian University of Venezuela.
- Graduate School of Education and Information Studies UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies
- Interview with Peter McLaren, CounterPunch, 7 June 2013
- Michael Viola, "Educating for Equality"
- UCLA Education Professor Peter McLaren's 'Life in Schools' Ranked in Top 12 Significant Writings of Foreign Authors
- The Despoiling of the American Mind by Peter McLaren, Monthly Review, March 16, 2007
- Paulo Freire Research Center–Finland
- La Fundacion McLaren de Pedagogía Critica
Journal articles by Peter McLaren
- Che Guevara, Paulo Freire, and the Politics of Hope: Reclaiming Critical Pedagogy - pdf
- George Bush, Apocalypse Sometime Soon, and the American Imperium - pdf
- The Dialectics of Terrorism: A Marxist Response to September 11 - part 1 & part 2
- The Labor-Capital Relation as Class Constitution and its Consequences for Marxist Educational Theory and Human Resistance - pdf
- Peter McLaren's Curriculum Vitae
- Peter McLaren's Personal Website
- Professor McLaren's Page at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies
- Peter McLaren Reflects on the Crisis of Academic Freedom by Samuel Day Fassbinder, Monthly Review, April 6, 2006
- The Pedagogy of Oppression: A Brief Look at ‘No Child Left Behind’ by Peter McLaren, Monthly Review, July–August 2006 Issue
- Educating for Equality by Michael Viola, Monthly Review, November 16, 2006
- Peter McLaren Responds to Bill Ayers: Bad Faith Solidarity January 22, 2007
- Pedagogy and Praxis in the Age of Empire by Samantha Cohen, The Humanities Review, Fall 2007 issue
- Education Professor Peter McLaren Honored with Chair and Foundation by the University of California Newsroom
- Critical Pedagogy Against Capitalist Schooling: Towards a Socialist Alternative
- A Radical Educator's Views on Media
- Capitalism, Critical Pedagogy, and Urban Science Education
- Educating for Social Justice and Liberation
- Peter McLaren and the Pedagogy of Liberation by Ravi Kumar, Radical Notes, February 19, 2009
- The Path of Dissent
- The Role of Critical Pedagogy in the Globalization Era and the Aftermath of September 11
- Towards a Critical Revolutionary Pedagogy December 9, 2003