At present, the use of the adjectives “transformative” or “transforming” is common when referring to educational activities. We can find, for example, expressions such as transformative learning, transformative experience, transforming classroom, transformative educational leadership and transformative pedagogy. It is also common to come across messages stating that an education that is fit for purpose must be game-changing, for individuals, human groupings, environments and societies. This is how education for justice, for sustainable development, for citizenship and for flourishing are envisaged.
With the spread of this perspective in education, numerous studies have appeared on transformative education, theoretical and applied research. Arising from these comes an interesting pedagogical discourse to be addressed by dealing with questions such as the following. Is a transformative education a new approach? Is a transformative education that changes identities ethical?
Yacek (2017, 2020, 2021), an author who has carried out extensive studies on transformative education, defends the significance of the subject, when he considers that the designation of transformative action has become rhetorical in numerous political, psychological and educational addresses. He ironically comments that he gets the impression that the famous words inscribed at the site of the sacred Oracle of Delphi –Know Thyself– have now become Transform Yourself. At the same time, he confirms that the concept of transformative education is applied to many educational fields such as educational psychology, education for social justice, adult, school and higher education.
What these extensions of transformative education have in common is their use of experience for change, with the aim of transforming and preparing oneself to promote actions that bring about change in individuals and contexts –social, cultural and environmental. These changes are of different types: epistemological, of beliefs, values, attitudes, preferences, et cetera. It requires, within the experience, means or educational opportunity, that a person will change themselves somewhat and decide to behave in a different way, which will help them to progress. The pupil is transformed, but it is the teacher who inspires these transformative experiences.