In a variety of philosophic beliefs about education, Paulo Freire’s concept of banking education is, probably, the most interesting, important, and controversial. Freire’s Banking concept of education presents and reconsiders conventional approaches to education in the new light. For Freire, the Banking concept of education is the reflection of the inconsistencies and flaws in how modern teachers view, perceive and describe the various dimensions of reality to their students.
The main thesis of Freire’s paper is that the modern process of education is a predetermined sequence of numerous acts of depositing, in which students patiently receive and repeat the knowledge deposits from the teacher; as a result, knowledge turns into a gift, granted by those who consider themselves knowledgeable upon those who are believed to know nothing. The basic implication of Freire’s book is in that only through invention, reinvention, creativity, and inquiry can knowledge emerge, giving men a unique opportunity to become the restless pursuers of the world they live in.
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Freire’s Banking concept of education developed, as he was trying to better understand the flaws and failures in the educational system of his native Brazil. The poor results of the educational process led Freire to believe that the core of all educational problems was in how teachers viewed the process of transferring knowledge from them to students. Ultimately, Freire’s philosophy turned into the reflection of the numerous dimensions of the educational reality in Brazil and a guide for teachers and education professionals, who wanted to change the lifeless, petrified character of traditional school education.
Paulo Freire refers to narration as fundamental element of the teacher-student relationship. According to Freire, narrative education rests on the sonority of words, and not their transforming power. The process of mechanical memorization of the narrated content turns students into receptacles, which must be filled by the teacher: the more completely the receptacle is filled, the better the teacher is considered to be (Freire). Such education limits the role of students in the learning process to receiving and storing the knowledge deposits, and leaves no room for transformation, creativity, or inquiry (Freire).
Another problem is in that the banking concept of education emphasizes and widens the relationship gap between students and teachers, in which the former are considered as meek and inferior compared with the knowledge superiority of the latter. In the banking vision of education, teachers know everything and students know nothing (Freire). In the banking concept of education, teachers make a choice and enforce it, whereas students are expected to comply (Freire). Teachers confuse their own authority with the authority of knowledge, and authority turns into an effective opposition to student freedom in the learning process (Freire).
Finally, the banking concept of education is the concept of oppression, which serves the interests of oppressors (teachers) and makes it impossible for students to resolve the emerging contradictions about reality (Freire). “Banking” teachers forget or intentionally ignore the fact that students are not social outcasts but are the critical members of their own society; as such, the explicit dichotomy between the man and the world is the definitive feature of the banking philosophy in education (Freire).
The basic implication of Freire’s paper is in that solidarity is inherently associated with communication, transformation, and inquiry. Knowledge emerges as a result of continuous communication between the student and the teacher. Communication is the only way for teachers and students to promote the authenticity of learning and thinking, for there is no way to generate true meanings other than by acting upon the world – acting in ways, which make the subordination of students to teachers inacceptable and impossible (Freire).
Freire, P. “The Banking Concept of Education.” In P. Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed,
New York: Continuum, 1993.
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