Freire on the Banking Method

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Oppressing Innovation, Creativity, and Originality
The purpose of education has been debated throughout history. Criticisms endlessly emerge as society and the education system continues to develop. Many have voiced their positions on the subject and brought up different theories on education and what it should entail. Paolo Freire, a Brazilian educator and philosopher, identifies his view on the type of learning known as the “banking system” of education—style of education where the instructor lectures on a topic while the students quietly listen. According to his work, “The Banking Concept of Education,” conventional methods of education lack critical thinking and communication from the students. Such limitations leave negative effects by handicapping students’ potential as scholars and limiting the use for their knowledge. Freire is critical of the banking method concept because he believes conventional methods are structured similarly to that of an “oppressor and the oppressed”, which means the teacher holds all the power while the student are submitting and following orders verbatim. In contrast, Freire recommends a kind of education that engages the students by having them think critically and discuss problems and how to solve them. He also believes education would be more successful if the teacher becomes more of a mentor and abandons his power in order to relate with students and learn from them as well. Although conventional methods of teaching like memorization may seem like a functional method to acquire knowledge, Freire’s criticisms of conventional methods highlight problems and controversies posed with the banking system, while his recommendations of a problem-posing education will help solve the barrier of teachers to students and likewise, will make students more effective with the knowledge they learn.

Memorization may appear to be efficient in education, although, it does not guarantee any comprehension because it prevents critical thinking and analysis of what is being learned. Most would argue that it is needed to teach many subjects, especially mathematics. Although, by simply requiring students to memorize steps needed towards solving a problem, it eliminates their ability to comprehend the reasoning behind such steps. Freire recognizes that the banking education emphasizes memorization, facts, formulas, and discipline; in which all do not guarantee learning and engagement in studied knowledge: “This is the ‘banking’ concept of education, in which the scope of action allowed to the students extends only as far as receiving, filing, and storing the deposits” (Freire 63). For example, the number pi is asked to be memorized by students but how many of those students actually learn of its significance and or how it came to be? Memorization is useless when a student does not comprehend what they are learning: “The student records, memorizes, and repeats these phrases without perceiving what four times four really means, or realizing the true significance of ‘capital’ in the affirmation ‘the capital of Pára is Belém means for Pará and what Pará means for Brazil” (63). Although memorization may seem like a practical method to obtain knowledge, but through such a limitations, there are problems controversies posed with the banking system. Hand-feeding information to students also confines them and their ability to think on their own, establish creativity, and development as a person. By handicapping a students’ potential as scholars, makes the oppression dehumanizing. In numbing these students through constant narration, Freire critiques the lifeless result that in demonstrated through the lack of ability from the student: “But in the last analysis, it is the people themselves who are filed away through the lack of creativity, transformation, and knowledge in this misguided system” (RW 63). Such an idea proves the connection of a student to a “depository”; “Worse yet, it turns them into...
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