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Paulo Freire’s “The Banking Concept of Education”

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In Paulo Freire’s essay on “The Banking Concept of Education,” he is a firm believer of advancement in today’s teaching. He splits the means of education into two distinct societies, the revolutionary and the oppression. Freire criticizes the current values of education, and argues to support his own, radical ideas about how he believes education should work. He compares education to the banking system and by doing so he is establishing his own methods and systems on how to make the education system better in our world today. In his essay, Freire’s arguments against the education system have been made quite clear by addressing actions that need to be made to better the future of our society.

At the beginning, he states how our current education system is very orderly and how the teachers are the “narrating” subjects and the students are “listing objects” not knowing how to think or act in the world today (Freire 318). He believes, “education is suffering from narration sickness,” and that, in our current system, words “become a hollow, alienated, and alienating verbosity” to the students (318). He strongly tells the reader how education is transforming into a memorization game. He states how a student will record and repeat for the teacher, however, they will not gain the true knowledge that will help them later in life. He calls this process “the banking concept of education” (319).

Paulo Freire is saying that the teacher -student relationship is poor because of the fact that the teacher is just narrating about the subject of which the students are just listening and are not really involved. Freire states that as the teacher is narrating, the students have troubles understanding the narrations because of the words that the teacher speaks are somewhat foreign to them. Freire makes a valid point as he modernizes this interaction by comparing it to using the banking system. He states that “education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are depositores and the teacher is the depositor” (319).

This act of “depositing” turns the student’s mind into “receptacles” to be filed away. He indicates that through this system students lack a sense of creativity and knowledge of the world around them. He explains that knowledge is the basis to our understandings and discoveries that man invents and develops every day. Without this sense of knowledge or the drive to learn we would be left with nothing new and everything would be left undiscovered. His argument of education begins here because without a good system of education our advancement to the future is at stake.

He uses the metaphor “deposit” to represent the manner in which information is bestowed to the students. His idea that the students are an “empty vessel” is at the core of the banking concept where the curriculum does not take into consideration the needs of the students as libertarians, the means by which men and women deal with reality in either a critical or creative way. He makes this point because in education today the information is chosen by the educator as the “depositor” and “deposited” into the student; “the scope of action allowed the student extends only as far as receiving, filing and storing; which the students patiently receive, memorize and repeat” (319). The more a teacher does this to his students the more reality is taken away from them to learn the true meanings of life. This can be related back to Freire’s argument against the education system, because one can only memorize things for so long, after that one will lose his true purpose in the world.

To go against the system of education Freire has established new methods to turn the idea of education aroundThe method of education that Freire asserts as an alternative to the banking concept is to encourage students to question and pursue the world. He calls this his “problem-posing” method on education (325). This change in focus is facilitated by a shift in the student-teacher relationship; the student learns from the teacher, and the teacher learns from the students. This is a relationship where all points of view and are examined and respected. The objective of this educational pattern is to “develop the power to perceive critically the way a person exist in the world, with which and in which they find themselves; they come to see the world is not as a static reality but as a reality in process, in transformation” (328). Without the development of this power, man cannot experience his true vocation in life.

In his method he also states how many do not pursue their interests or explore the world. He calls this group of people the “oppressor society” (325). In this solitary society many are left being at the receiving end in the containers, and many educators come in to control the lives of the oppressed. They are the humanized form of the “the banking concept.” However, Freire states how there are the select few that escape out into society and pursue the world around them. They would be considered today’s inventors and leaders who change the lives of many. He calls this group the “revolutionary society” (325). They are the ones that communicate with the world and reject the oppressors. He brings up a good point by saying how education will later split the population into two. Some will be thinkers who take their own paths and others will be followers who do actually what they are told to do.

Communication is the key to the success in our education. Based off of the methods and concepts that Freire has come up with he would agree with this statement and how it affects our learning and growth of knowledge. He states how “one must seek to live with others in solidarity” and how one must think for themselves and not relate back to his pupils. They do this by a system of communication. An educator of any kind must think for themselves and not for their students. They need to know the true feelings of their students to see if their ways of teaching are either helping or damaging the student’s understandings of the real world. Thinking for oneself connects to reality and how memorizing what the teacher stated will only get you so far in life. To break this “banking concept” the students and the teachers need to communicate and interact with one another for the both to succeed in reality. With the help of communication society can act more librated inside the world that we live in today. According to Freire’s methods and his beliefs, communication is the key to success in both the system of education and in surviving in the world that we live in today. Freire’s methods all come to agreement with the system of communication.

Freire writes this from first hand experience about important issues in education. He covers ideas from the “banking concept” and student-teacher relationships to revolutionize through communication and the effects educational systems have on the concept of liberty. By doing so he establishes his own structure and technique to make education of today better for our world tomorrow. He believes that “no one can be authentically human while he prevents others from being so” (330). This quote illustrates his humanity and his motivation to see education serve not only the “oppressors”, but humanity as a whole.

Work Cited

1.Freire, Paulo. “The Banking Concept of Education.” Boston, Massachusetts, Bedfor/St. Martin’s: 2006. Pages 318-331.

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