Summary of Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed Chapter 2
July 22, 2012
Paulo Freire has a problem with how education has been conducted since the 19th century. In his essay, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freire compares two concepts of education that are present today, banking and problem-posing. In banking teachers assume students are passive, take all control, determine what will be learned, and “fill” students with pre-selected information. Problem-posing education allows people to develop their human natures fully because it depends on dialogue, recognizes the relationship between people and the world, encourages discovery and creativity, and leads to transformation. Freire criticizes the banking method throughout the essay and clearly praises problem-posing in more than just an educational settings.
From the very beginning Freire creates an urgency for change with his word usage, imagery, and exaggerated examples. For instance, narration sickness is a term used when the teacher talks about a subject as if it were “motionless, static, compartmentalized, and predictable.” Narration also leads the students to be ‘containers’ to be ‘filled’ by the teachers. Necrophilia is another one of Freire’s exaggerated imagery, comparing the banking concept and oppression to the love for the dead. As stated by Freire,”The necrophilous person is driven by the desire to transform the organic into inorganic, to approach life mechanically, as if all living persons were things…Memory, rather than experience; having, rather than being, is what counts.”
Freire first introduces the “banking” concept of education as being an analogy—the student is a bank and the teacher is the depositor. This concept is what leads to human beings becoming oppressed. Students are encouraged to “fit in to” the world as it is; this means that they remain meek, unquestioning, and submissive to authoritative roles. He also points out that the main reason for this concept not being effective is because there is no teacher-student dialogue and the creative mind is inhibited. Freire criticized this model of education because he believed it made students into passive objects to be acted upon by the teacher; this will result in the students accepting and adapting to the world deposited on to them. He argued that the goal of ‘banking education’ is to break down the people within the existing establishment (oppressed) by influencing them to accept the status quo of the dominant society (oppressor).
Freire presents an important aspect when explaining the larger consequences of the banking concept. He claims that creativity is killed along with dialogue through banking. The teacher narrates knowledge for the students to memorize, anticipating their absolute ignorance in that subject. Since what they ‘need’ to learn is being pushed onto them, they accept it as there only choice. This limits the student’s chances to think critically and embrace their creativity. Freire also later explains problem-posing as being educational freedom if only the teacher-student dialogue contradiction can be overcome.
One of the first steps in reforming the educational concepts is to be truly committed to rejecting banking entirely. Problem-posing is the antidote suggested by Freire, which is generally characterized as cooperation between the student and the teacher. In this concept students are not sitting idly by, waiting for the truth to be installed for them. The students respond to problems posed to them by the world; resulting in new challenges, understanding, commitment, and critical thinking. The teacher in this situation is not just “narrative”, but is also always “cognitive.” This means that the teacher is always preparing for dialogue with the students, transforming them both into inquisitive and creative human beings.
Freire supports the problem-posing method as being the only educational concept needed. His essay is well laid out with examples and supporting details, but is this practical for public education? Freire says that to be truly committed to ending banking the students must reject it all together. I do not support this statement for I believe both concepts are necessary at some point in education. Some information presented to students can only be taught through repetition, memorization, and narration. For example, math and science equations are concepts needed to be memorized in order to complete problems. The way a student memorizes it can be creative and active, but it still falls under the banking category for needing to be told how to perform it. Other than this disagreement, Freire’s essay is something to look over and research more fully.