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"The Banking Concept of Education": An Essay on
Submissive Learning by Paulo Freire
Lyndi Lane, Yahoo Contributor Network
Apr 18, 2006 "Share your voice on Yahoo websites. Start Here."
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In his essay The Banking Concept of Education, author Paulo Freire asserts that modern education is widely recognized as a chance for instructors (or "oppressors," as he calls them) to fill students with information as they submissively accept it; in his vision of education, there is no reciprocal learning or sharing between teacher and student. In my years as a recipient of these clinical doses of
knowledge, I have experienced many teachers who fit Freire's pessimistic description. However, I
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have also experienced a professor who ran her classroom very differently from those Freire scorns,
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and she created a wonderful environment for learning because of those differences. Her methods
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prove that it is possible to create a classroom in which education does not "suffer from narration
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The class that changed my opinion of education was a very small, intimate poetry workshop class of
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12 people. The professor, who was as highly educated as the rest of the senate faculty generally found
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at highly-regarded universities, held fast to the idea that she could learn as much from her students as they from her. In his essay, Freire lists a number of qualities of the "Banking Concept of Education,"
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and asserts that the qualities are found in every classroom, and are mirrored by "oppressive society as a whole." Since these are the qualities on which he bases his argument, it is important to be exposed to ways in which these qualities can be replaced by healthier ideas.
Freire's first listed quality is that," the teacher teaches and the students are taught." In our classroom,
there is no reciprocal learning or sharing between
teacher and student
the teacher had very little to do with the learning process. Each of the students submitted original poetry once a week, and their peers in the classroom provided them with feedback on their work. The professor interrupted only to ask leading questions to prompt discussion, and occasionally offer suggestions as to how to make certain portions of our work more effective. In many cases, students' poetry dealt with issues or subjects that the professor knew nothing about. By reading the work and then having it explained to her, she learned many new things from the writing of her pupils. That being the case, it seems that the students were doing the teaching, and the teacher was being taught. This logic relates to Freire's second listed quality, which is that, "the teacher knows everything and the student knows nothing." Again, since the feedback on our work came predominantly from other students, it was usually the opinion of peers that was valued most highly in the classroom. Freire's third quality is that, "the teacher thinks and the students are thought about." Had it been that only our own poems were submitted for the professor's scrutiny, this would be a more valid statement. However, the professor's work was laid out for...
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