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Thread: The Banking Concept of Education (Commie Dialogue)

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    The Banking Concept of Education (Commie Dialogue)

    The title of Paulo Feire’s essay The “Banking Concept of Education,” refers to a system of oppression that results in the marginalization of students. It occurs when teachers, who propagate the views of a dominant minority, objectify students by treating them as passive receivers of knowledge. Its basis is a static conception of reality. Teachers use the Banking Concept of Education— named for the one way depositing of knowledge—to fit students into the reality that is consistent with the aims of the minority. According to Freire, this mode of education “stimulates the credulity of students, with the ideological intent (often not perceived by educators) of indoctrinating them to adapt to the world of oppression”. Additionally, the educational process dehumanizes students, dissuades them from asking questions, and inhibits their creative power. Ultimately, the result is a nullification of the majority’s needs and suffering, as men “find themselves unable to use their facilities.” Upon accepting these claims the questions then become: how should teachers approach education? And what is the actual conception of reality from which this approach precedes?

    According to Friere, “Liberating education consists in acts of cognition, not transferals of information." This means that it’s imperative for teachers to pose problems to students: ones that they feel compelled to solve in order to better understand their own realities. The result being, “men develop their power to perceive critically the way they exist in the world with which and in which they find themselves." In order to press students into solving the problems of their reality, teachers are encouraged to foster discussion by using their students’ own history as a starting point. “Thus, men begin to single out elements from their ‘background awarenesses’ and to reflect upon them." Fostering discussion may entail finding out what students know by posing questions as they pertain to classroom material, and then complicating their answers with opposing views so that they become challenged. The student’s response to the challenge will then “evoke new challenges, followed by new understanding; and gradually the students will come to regard themselves as committed."

    In order for problem posing to work, however, the teacher must be willing to learn from students in the same way that students may learn from them. The new roles then become teacher-students and student-teachers, who reflect “simultaneously on themselves and the world." In practice this causes a teacher to “re-form his reflections in the reflections of the students. The students—no longer docile listeners—are now critical coinvestigators in dialogue with the teacher. The teacher presents the material to the students for their consideration as the students express their own." Indeed, this process of simultaneous reflection may be the only way that students can come to learn in a reality which is “undergoing constant transformation,” because only by confronting the complexities of our existence and constantly reshaping our vision of reality, as that vision is presented with problems, are we able to grow. The same conclusion is drawn by Friere. In perhaps the best line of the essay, he states “knowledge emerges only through intervention and reinvention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry men pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.”

    The case Friere makes is strongly presented, and charged with the destructiveness of the banking concept of education, thereby making any alternative to it seem preferable. So when considering the problem-posing solution, I think the next question becomes, how can it be practically applied when teachers are expected to meet requirements that are enforced by the state?
    Last edited by Makers; 02-18-2014 at 06:43 AM.

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