The educational thinker that I have selected is Paulo Freire. I have selected Freire as he speaks of the ‘banking concept’ and having travelled through the education system, I believe this is something I have experienced. In order to succeed and pass the exams that I believed I needed to be successful I conformed and simply banked the knowledge that my secondary school teachers passed onto me. I was not encouraged to challenge or question until I left school and began to take my place in society. I left school with the qualifications I required but found I had acquired a lot of knowledge that was not truly relevant in the wider world. As an informal educator I see it as my duty to assist in empowering young people to challenge and question in order to truly learn and therefore make the lives for themselves that they desire.
In the ‘pedagogy of the oppressed’ Freire speaks of the ‘banking concept’ of education. He writes of how this concept dehumanizes and oppresses the learner, by simply having information stacked upon them, with no right to challenge or self interpret, the learner is simply forced to ‘bank’ the knowledge. In doing so, the learner is oppressed by the teacher. The teacher remains in power by forcing their beliefs and their knowledge on the learner. I would question, if we are memorising another’s beliefs, are we really learning? It is my opinion that, truly learning and becoming educated is a wonderful journey that should take the learner through a transformation. A person who has truly learnt should be a different person at the end of the journey than when they began. I would suggest that the banking concept of education not only does not allow this, it actually prevents it from happening.
It was only after leaving secondary education that I realised there were many people who had not been as fortunate as myself. I experienced a real awakening as I started to meet people in the wider world, people who had been failed by the education system and were therefore oppressed because of this. The education system can lead to people becoming marginalised because they do not conform. Whether it was due to postcode, race, financial situation or another reason, these people had not been respected as individuals and had been removed from the system, as they couldn’t conform to it. It was this that fuelled my want to work with people who were suffering from oppression. Freire speaks of how the banking concept expects the oppressed to adapt to society as opposed to society adapting around them: -
‘The solution is not to ‘integrate’ them into the structure of oppression, but to transform that structure so that they can become ‘beings’ for themselves.’ (Freire, Extract 1, educational thinkers)
As an informal educator I try to understand and respect the needs of the individual and I am aware that for many, conforming to society is not always achievable, I also feel passionate about the fact that they should not have to. As an informal educator I believe it is fundamental to meet the needs of the individual. Respect is one of the core principles of informal education. In my role, I try to respect all people, whether or not this is mutual. I remind myself that, for some people, in their circumstances, this is not an easy deed for them to return. By showing respect, regardless of their situation and showing that their opinion and input is valued, respect from them is usually gained.
‘treating each individual as a person in her or his own right, not, for example as an object to be acted upon.’ (Deer Richardson & Wolfe, 2007:65)
This means respecting another person’s...