The Banking Concept of Education By: Paulo Freire -- Academic Paper

I recently found some academic soft copies of paperwork from a Rhetoric class I took in order to complete the English units required in Law School.  I was forced to take this subject in 2001-2002 from an MA in Language and Literature subject.  It was the only available subject I could find that would fit my work and law school schedules. The essay below is one paper among a few of the course requirements I submitted.  Others will also be posted before I lose the files.  Just as in other posts from this Rhetoric class series, this is a slightly edited version and all highlights are recent additions I made for easier online reading.  Content in blue are current annotations/additions.

I don't remember if I submitted this document since it doesn't have an ending.  I need to get a hold of the original Freire material so I could separate my own ideas from those that I have read from him.  I don't even remember what kind of Academic paper this was since it goes beyond being a mere reaction paper.  This copy I found wasn't even complete as it abruptly ends.  I just did a minor edit of the last paragraph and added a concluding sentence, gathering from the last paragraph.  So to the academics out there, please pardon me for now,  :-) 

Here's the first post in the series.  It's a personal academic essay about the place I grew up in

Thank you, Ma'am Vicky Rico-Costina, for adopting me in your class.  
It was a very enriching class. Congratulations for your recently published book, "For Those Who Love Cats"

In oppression there is an oppressor and an oppressed.  The oppressor gains more power as the oppressed loses more of his own unrealized power.  Without these two actors there would be no oppression to speak of.  This is the politics that is prevalent and so, most written about, in countries where communist ideals have been widely believed and preached.  Latin America is a prime example of such a place that breeds this kind of thinking.  In humanizing man, there should neither be an oppressor nor an oppressed.  Simply waging war and winning over oppressors will not do the job either.

Photo of Paulo FreireImage via Wikipedia
            Paulo Freire extends this paradigm in his analysis of education in "The Banking Concept of Education".  He attacks the common belief and practice of education as a one-way lane where the teacher is the sole educator in a classroom and the students are the dumb “receptacles” who deserve a beating or a teacher’s raised eyebrow at regular intervals in the academic day.

            The author posits that education should not be subjected to this power structure because education runs both ways.  Both the teacher and the students are capable of imparting and accepting.  There is no monopoly of knowledge.  The teacher does not just act in his or her cognitive role and narrative role.  He cannot stand in front of the classroom talking all the time as if all the knowledge in the world has been reposed in his brain – that he alone received all of God’s intellectual allocation; that he alone has been blessed until all his cup of wisdom “runneth over”.

            Instead, Freire talks of a “problem-posing” type of education.  Education is not merely transferring information the way we copy files from our hard disk to a floppy disk in order to transfer the file to another hard disk for printing.  This kind of thinking alienates man.  He says that students should give their own inputs so that the teacher can learn as well.  Man is humanized as he is allowed to think creatively in processing what he learns. 

            I have always wondered why I suddenly lost interest in reading a book which I originally liked once a teacher assigns it as a “required reading”.  When I run out of answers I just assume that perhaps it is just a manifestation of my rebellious nature.  Maybe it’s just because my rebellious nature automatically leads me to raise my shield against the authority of a teacher figure.  Reading Freire has led me to consider that perhaps my behavior is caused by the fear or the frustration that a teacher will just look for what is right in my assignment based on his standard of rightness or wrongness. 

            I want to be creative.  I do not seek it simply so I could formulate my own theories and make a name for myself.  I just want it because creativity is part of what makes me humanWithhold my privilege to analyze, to observe, to synthesize, to explain, to speculate, to argue, to hope, to dream, to plan, to get excited, and I will lose interestnot necessarily interest in the subject matter but interest in showing my interest to my teacher.  I may be wrong but don’t just tell me I’m wrong if I am really wrong, but  help me to see why I am wrong so I may set myself aright.

            Education is one of the most pleasant everyday experiences but it can become the most repulsive activity and the most slavish and mechanistic exercise that a human being can impose on another once boxed in the four walls of a classroom and entrusted to a tyrant who’s whip is his authority, and such authority solely emanating from a piece of paper framed and displayed either in his living room or tucked in his cabinet at the faculty office.  (very long sentence :-))

            This country is not the least void of such teachers.  Everyone has a story about a teacher who could neither be called to correct himself nor just acknowledge a mistake even if done in the most polite manner.  There is the teacher who as related to me by friend, will, chest out and chin raised, hold his whip of authority and command his students, “Class, group yourselves in two.  One group will stay at my right,” he pauses, and continues, “And the remains will go to my left.”

            I had a teacher once in High School who was teaching us history and I noticed she named the wrong historical figure.  I happened to like history and I have had advanced reading on that day's topic.  I bravely tried to correct her.  Aldrin, my friend and classmate who was also acquainted with the topic argued on my side.  The attention in class was fixed on the three of us - my teacher, my friend and myself.   The teacher did not change her mind.  Aldrin and I were not out for an ego trip trying to corner our teacher and forcing her to submit to our advance.   We simply believed we were correct.

            We ran out of time and the class had to be dismissed.  We lost.  We didn’t have the right weapon.  I was frustrated and at a later occasion I acted foolishly and offended that same teacher.  I regretted the offense I made.  I didn’t see her for two more years until I reached fourth year.  I never forgot the room debate two years back.  I was right.  I knew I was right.  I did not lose interest in history after that incident.  I just did not show my teacher that I was so interested in that subject anymore.  Why couldn’t she just have accepted that she was wrong?  Was it so hard to say, “Alright class, I may be wrong.  Allow me to refresh my memory and we’ll pick up from here tomorrow.”  Of course, I may just have been too forceful.  Any teacher would be offended after all if students advance on him/her the way my classmate and I did.  But still I knew I was right.  Maybe it’s just that most teachers simply want you to memorize and copy what’s on the board and believe all they say as if it were written on stone. (I just realized now that we were both correct.  Aldrin and I argued for the historical figure's real name Vladimir Ilyich, our teacher taught the pseudonym/assumed name Nicolai; but neither of us knew the difference.  That was the time when there was no internet and easy access to information.  She read from one book; Aldrin and I from another. There lies the problem.)

            As Freire has pointed out, there is a dual role of teacher-student and student-teacher.  Both can learn from each other.  Deny this and you defeat the purpose of education. 

            Some people may be well aware of this already.  Some people may be in the process of learning it.  Some may be in the early stages of application.  I just hope that all of us, teachers and students alike would learn to adopt this way of thinking.  

           When I was in fourth year high school, thatsecond year history teacher became one of our team's advisers during the intramurals.  I did not forget our encounter two years back.  But I do remember that she often approached me during the intramurals season.  We talked about our team.  I gave her my suggestions.  She gave me money for the snacks of those who were preparing our props for the parade and cheering competitions.   I graduated in High School as one of the leaders of the year’s over-all Intramurals Champion, working closely and joyfully with my former history teacher.

          Our rift was healed -- 2 years after the fact.  Wouldn't academic life be easier had we both read Freire before we started class?

Our classroom during that history class was at the bottom floor of this building.  Photo courtesy of Tagaphilexako Tayo

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