This era of globalization, capitalism, and economic progress has given rise to mass incarceration, as a considerable number of youths in developing and developed countries live behind bars in detention facilities without appropriate educational support. Educators in these facilities deposit knowledge, through traditional pedagogical approaches, under systemic oppression and surveillance deemed necessary for safety and security. This study investigated implementations of Freire’s (2000) problem-posing pedagogy using a participatory action research (PAR) approach through the lens of critical theory. Two of the co-authors helped develop a Freirean language teaching program in an urban youth prison in Mexico, centering student teachers’ critical self-awareness by providing them with opportunities to reflect on their identity, life experiences, and reality while teaching in prison. Through critical, autoethnographic self-reflections of a bilingual teacher candidate on her teaching practices, this study provides insights into how the teacher was impacted by the problem-posing pedagogy and how it was reflected in her transformation to a critical, loving teacher and student progress. This research embraces a humanistic approach to teaching incarcerated youth in Mexico through care and courage by supporting them as students, as well as by empowering their voices and thoughts. Building a learning community, where students and teachers create respectful human connections through dialogue and discussions on language, culture, and lived experiences, is portrayed in this research as essential.



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