The Private Liberation
Paulo Freire introduces the idea of a “problem-posing” education system in his book The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, which offers a highly effective alternative to the traditional method of memorizing facts that he deems the “banking” concept of education. Problem posing allows individuals to expand their own thoughts, ideas, and opinions through open discussion in a classroom setting. I went through such an experience senior year in my Comparative Government class, which focused on different governments along with the key social and economic issues they face. While many may argue that the “banking” concept has some value in certain issues, the alternative in problem-posing offers a broader experience in which students can exceed any expectations placed on them in the traditional classroom setting. Oppression is not a topic that many feel to be an issue in the United States, but in reality an “educational oppression” can be found throughout the country highlighted by Jonothan Kozol in his chapter “Preparing Minds for Market.” The level of this educational oppression varies in different areas depending on location, socioeconomic standings, and the pressure for performance. The source of this oppression can be traced to a common determinant, the Banking method. The way to liberation comes from tossing aside the stagnant form of Banking in lieu of education through communication and shared experiences, which Freire calls problem-posing. The old saying “whatever you put into something is what you will get out” may seem cliché to some, but in a course with a problem-posing structure that is a perfect description. The opportunity to learn and grow as both a student and a person is determined by the participation and effort put in by each person. In a “banking” structured class the students may retain certain facts and figures but they miss out on understanding the varied nuances of the subject they are studying. The ability to ponder the complexities is robbing the students that are subjected to the “banking” method. As Freire describes “The more students work at storing the deposits entrusted to them, the less they develop the critical consciousness which would result from their intervention in the world as transformers of that world,” when we are only required to spit out information exactly as it is given to us we never bother to question or analyze that information but in the end merely regurgitate it (319). This form of oppression restricts the analytical skills that any good student requires to develop their own insight. In a fast paced society with rapidly changing situations the banking method does not prepare students to react appropriately and think on their toes. The banking method might work in a world where every person is only responsible for one specific task that has to be performed the exact same way every time, but that is rarely the case. Problem posing gives students the confidence and ability to reason through difficulties that they encounter and develop their own solutions rather than relying on being told how to perform every task exactly. Through the walk of life we experience many different styles of teaching, but the Comparative Government class in my high school offered a completely unique learning environment. The course was based around class discussions on different government structures, student-chosen articles, and reflection about how each government interacted with its own people and other countries. When describing a typical problem-posing system Freire says “In this way, the problem-posing educator constantly re-forms his reflections in the reflection of the students. The students – no longer docile listeners – are now critical co-investigators in the dialogue with the teacher,” which coincides with the teaching model that the class was centered around (Freire 324). There was no tearing down of classrooms in revolution of this different form of teaching, but the internal...
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