Education: Freire and Bell Hooks

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Addie Ward

In the writings Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Education for the Critical Consciousness Freire suggests a mechanical flaw of education as the “banking approach.” This theory is described as the student being the bank and the teacher making the deposits, known as knowledge. The student’s turn into “receptors” and “collectors” of information, that has no connection to their lives. In this banking concept the teacher ‘knows’ because he or she has already deposited the knowledge needed to know. This repetitive and degrading way of teaching (most of the time not intentionally), results in dehumanization of the teachers and the students. Freire believes that banking education hinders students to think freely and take another look at what is being taught. Most people don’t see the long-term affects that this causes, which is why Freire writes of many situations in the classroom where the “banking approach” occurs. Freire puts the ‘oppressors’ actions into perspective by elucidating how these approaches become virtually unnoticed due to their natural reoccurrence over time. Author bell hooks criticizes standard education not as essentially being lost but as the language being lost within the knowledge of education. The language is not literally lost but lost figuratively the way it is being taught and presented. bell hooks examines a situation in her class room, “In a classroom setting, I encourage students to use their first language and translate it so they do not feel that seeking a higher education will necessarily estrange them from that language and culture they know most intimately”. (hooks p.172) hooks wants languages to be presented as a skill, a talent that one has, which it is. Language is knowledge to listen and learn from and these valuable opportunities are being lost in standard education, as we know today. hooks wants students to be able to speak in perspectives of their own lives, not be criticized of this language but to see it as a gift. Altering the way we view different languages will shift our attitude toward learning more about cultures and the way we neglect to accept diversity. hooks believes in education having no dominancy, no one group of people such as ‘the oppressor’ being in control. The students are viewed as the victims of the oppressors, students need to never forget where they came from and never be ashamed of their talents. All students should be in touch and aware of oneself. Teachers need to focus more on individualizing the students and recognizing their abilities. By doing this as a whole we will be able to discover ourselves and experience our differences. Freire wants similar changes, changes that will bring together the student and the oppressor, to be able to unite as one and help each other learn. Nor the student or the teacher has more to offer. Freire wants schools to change to “problem-posing education”, which sets the education to focus on the student’s long term goals and achievements. Enlightening students helps them realize they are just as important as anyone else. I believe every student has something to offer to a teacher whether it is exceeding ones expectations, or a personal experience that touched your heart; you will remember that person forever. Education determines how you think, how you make decisions and how well you work, through this we are able to unite. This is what Freire means when he states, “Problem-posing education is revolutionary futurity. Hence it is prophetic. Hence, it affirms men as beings who transcend themselves, who move forward and look ahead, for whom immobility represents a fatal threat, for whom looking at the past must only be a means of understanding more clearly what and who they are so that they can move wisely build the future.” (Pedagogy of the Oppressed p. 7) In the writing “Teaching Towards Death”, hooks is very concerned with the route colleges are taking to educate their students. Hooks makes a valid argument that...
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