Close Reading/Summary of Paulo Freire's "The Banking Concept of Education"
According to Paulo Freire, we need to be aware of a crisis in the education system. The roles of the student and teacher have changed from an exchange of ideas, to a one way flow of information, most of which is irrelevant to the student and the student's experience. As a result, the student can expect to receive a recitation of information that must be memorized. Paulo suggests the role of teacher is a narrator, and the role of the student to be a listener. He contends that because information is presented in a narrative context, the material becomes breathless and boring (1).
Spoon feeding is not the best teaching strategy. A constant dictation of information to students, for the purposes of recitation, does not make someone intelligent or philosophical. The best teaching strategy is one where there is a two way communications dialog between the student and the teacher. Communication cannot be unidirectional. Only through a bidirectional or multidimensional exchange of information can someone really learn and become prepared for the world. Teaches must ensure students know their ideas are valuable and necessary. Only this type of communication will build the students confidence and help to foster a positive learning environment.
My experiences in the military and as a civilian contractor, have led me to believe that many people would rather just be given the answer to a problem. I have discovered that at times, when a person needs to think through a problem, they instead ask someone for the answer. I have even been guilty of this myself. I believe this is because of the "Training" mentality that within the military training programs. Getting "Trained" to perform a task, is not the same thing as being educated. I equate training to, being taught how to properly perform a repetitive task. Training does not prepare someone for the unexpected problem that might arise. Consequently, I see more and more people who need a checklist or step by step instructions, in order to work though a problem that they should be able to figure out by themselves. Ninety-nine percent of the time, those problems cannot be dealt with using a checklist. The person facing the problem needs to have been taught how to think and analyze for themselves in order to find the solution to the problem.
According to Freire, "knowledge is a gift bestowed by those who consider themselves knowledgeable". There should be no place for arrogance in the classroom. Students should not feel alone during the learning process. Students should be encouraged to offer thoughts and present new ideas. There cannot be a polar attitude between students and teachers. Students and teachers must both be united in the common goal of seeking knowledge and truth (2).
Students should never feel as though they are browbeaten or subjugated. Teachers may need to build up students to believe in themselves. Teachers need to make sure that students are given challenges the build the students confidence. Students must take care not to become lethargic. Challenging students to be critical thinkers will help ensure they are prepared for the world and its challenges (3).
Therefore, students must be taught how to be critical thinkers. They must not be lead to believe that there is no more room for thought, or new ideas. The "banking approach" to education turns men in to mechanized robots. Educating must not be about the creation of mindless people incapable of independent thought. Educating should instead be about seeking the challenge. Teaching a person how to deal with difficult situations and building confidence that they can succeed, if they apply themselves. A partnership must exist between the student and teacher for the learning process to succeed (4).
In conclusion, I believe Freire said it best, "Only though communication, can human life hold meaning". Only though the thoughtful discovery of new ideas can people grow and become more than the status quo ante. People who seek after the banking approach should be wary of what they might find. Students need to be taught how to learn and how to think for themselves, not just spoon fed dry humdrum facts, to be regurgitated at some later time. Students and teachers must communicate with each other, for the process of learning to take place (5).
- Freire, Paulo. "The Banking Concept of Education." Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum, 1993. 5.