With the transition to a new philosophy of education in post-apartheid South Africa a paradigm shift began from banking education to outcomes-based education. South Africa looked to other countries for a framework on which to build its curriculum. The first post-apartheid curriculum as well as the subsequent revised curriculum seems to be a contentious matter as outcomes-based education as practised in South Africa is widely criticised by educationists. This study endeavours to interrogate the structure and underlying principles of the current curriculum to gain an understanding of whether and how critical consciousness, learning support materials and environmental education feature in the national curriculum. The purpose of the study is to gain an understanding of what happens in South African environmental education classrooms especially with regard to the construction of meaning and the prospects for Freirean critical education. The research questions elucidate the nature of critical education and its capacity to inform the sociology of learning in environmental education within the South African context. The research purpose is therefore exploratory and descriptive. The research questions emerge from the literature review which informs the study and also conceptualises the key tenets of the inquiry. The literature study reveals that there is adequate mention in policy documents regarding the importance of learning support materials in teaching and learning, but there seems to be a gap in the literature about how learning support materials are currently used in South Africa to develop critical consciousness particularly in environmental education classrooms. This research attempts to address this gap. The research conducted falls within the conceptual framework of critical pedagogy. It is however the humanist approach asserted by Paulo Freire that premises the study. The research design and philosophy of the study is delineated and the researcher’s role in the research process is elucidated. An ethnographic case study positioned within the qualitative approach serves as the methodology by which the research questions are explored. The choice of methodology and the ontological premise of the study are accounted for and issues of quality are discussed with regard to credibility, transferability, dependability and conformability. The purpose of this study was not to find solutions and no definitive answers were sought or obtained. The findings of the study point to three critical contentions and the following was established: Firstly, that although the National Curriculum Statement pays lip service to some of the ideals of Freirean pedagogy, it is inherently behaviourist in that it has clearly defined outcomes and assessment standards that learners should attain regardless of learner diversity. Secondly, that the manner in which the educator facilitates the learning support materials is the determining factor in the attainment of the set learning outcomes by the learners. Thirdly, that the manner in which knowledge transmission happens in a lesson influences the development of critical consciousness in learners. The findings only serve as suggestions and the reader is invited to look at the possibilities that Freirean pedagogy has to offer and what might be possible in environmental education classrooms. The findings of the study cannot be generalised and have to be interpreted and applied by the reader within a specific context of teaching and learning.