On the eve of Linda Brown’s (Brown VS Board of Education) passing I couldn’t be more primed to write a blog incorporating such words as “humanist education” and “engaging pedagogy”. So many emotions and thoughts brought up thinking about the legacy and lives changed by one little girl. It is ever so timely when on Sunday, the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School marched on Washington to express their dissatisfaction with continued legislative action backed by deep NRA pockets. Communities can and will unite to do what is right when faced with adversity in uncertain times. To not take action implies complicity.
Paulo Freire talks about how words become hollow and alienating when detached from reality. Teachers who instill fear and hierarchy because to not do so would allow creativity and transformative learning experiences. The “banking” concept of education is having students mechanically memorize and be gifted by the knowledge of the teacher. Really in this context it is being used to contain, control and oppress the students so that they “fit into” the structured world around them. Anything other than fitting in, such as being creative or humanistic, would be considered revolutionary. The massive dichotomy between the banking education method and problem-posing method is an abyss at worst and a chasm at best. Complete opposites in every manner. As new professors and future professoriates we need to incorporate every aspect of the positive problem-posing method. Paulo Freire used the word “human” 33 times in this one chapter. Of course, I’ll point out again that in my first month I wrote a blog regarding the very topic of human decency missing in the higher education system at VT. I don’t think it’d be a stretch to say I might be onto something. I wonder how many of the banking education methods are employed here daily, and probably by people who don’t even realize they are continuing the cycle of a detached reality.
Bell Hooks also used the word “humane” in her first few chapters, to no surprise. My favorite excerpt and also one that applies to VT, “teachers who appeared to derive their primary pleasure in the classroom by exercising their authoritarian power over my fellow students, crushing our spirits, and dehumanizing our minds and bodies…..I never once considered what it would be like to study with teachers who were racist….I had romanticized college”. She very well could have taken this out of my own diaries. I’m reminded of a book by my dear friend “I, Rigoberta Menchu” by Rigoberta Menchu who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 in which she addresses the fact that one must have enduring courage to fight against the system and do what is right, regardless of the cost. I love how Hooks paints the picture of the critical thinker as a child, when most would think it’d be professor or doctor. She breaks it down so eloquently when stating “in traditional higher education settings, students find themselves yet again in a world where independent thinking is not encouraged”. I literally wrote OMG!!!! in the margin at the beginning of Chapter 2 where she writes that she participated in the Voice of Democracy contest, because, I did as well! I even won 3rd place in my district which came with $500 and helped me buy my first car in high school. LOL!
I’m so thankful to have been asked to read these articles for my blog at a time when I needed them most. The world is smaller than we think and great minds really do think alike.