GRAD 5114: The Banking Concept of Education

Reading “Banking Concept of Education” by Paulo Freire hit the spot describing our current education system, he refers to as the banking education system. We often criticize some aspects of our education system or list the pros and cons and what can be improved, but I have never read an article before that goes as far as comparing the education system to the slavery system. Although it does indeed give an accurate narration to what , in my opinion, our education system is built on, I think the author goes too far at some instances, ignoring the continuous efforts done by some teachers to change the system. In the following paragraphs, I will share some of the phrases Freire mentions in his article that caught my attention and reflect upon:

“Education is suffering from narration sickness” is one of the most accurate statements describing our current education system. In our classroom, most of the time spent during lectures consist of the professor explaining/narrating, followed by a shy round of whether “anyone has a question” every now and then. I remember in every classroom, and while some gave more space for students to ask and discuss, most of them allocated very limited time for discussions. I always had so many question in my head but I always knew answers would be brief if any,  I wouldn’t be given enough time to reflect on what I thought, and so I ended up nodding my head by no questions. This is one of the reasons I intend to do the opposite in my classrooms. And while I realize I will be constrained by time and material, discussion time will be sacred, because I know from personal experience you learn more during discussion than during explanation.

“The students, alienated like the slave in the Hegelian dialectic, accept their ignorance as justifying the teacher’s existence-but, unlike the slave, they never discover that they educate the teacher. ” Yes, students do educate teachers more than they are given credit for. I remember numerous instances in which the professor didn’t have an answer and ended up searching for it. Good teachers do realize this fact, and are often thrilled and excited by it. And this is how it should be, the interaction between the teacher and the student is a two-way street where both are gaining from this intellectual exchange. Although this is not supposed to happen with equal portions, meaning that the student must learn more from the professor, students still, despite in small portions, educate the teacher.

“The more completely students accept the passive role imposed on them, the more they tend simply to adapt to the world as it is and to the fragmented view of reality deposited in them. ” This statement is one of the most statements I could relate to in terms of our education system, and even life in general. The more limitations imposed on the critical thinking/questioning process students undergo in classrooms, the more they are inclined to take things at face value, accepting reality as it is. And this is reflected in their everyday curiosity to ask questions and doubt facts imposed on them. This even extends to their work life and attitude towards their bosses and colleagues. These 50 mins classrooms have a life time effect that we often seem to forget intentionally, and unintentionally. Curiosity, to a certain extent, is a blessing that should be embraced by teachers.

5 thoughts on “GRAD 5114: The Banking Concept of Education”

  1. Reem, thank you for this post. It is interesting how we often forget the texts we read in a course, but can oftentimes recall many things about the particular classroom many years later. I think this perhaps signals what Freire is emphasizing is that the classroom is the space to encourage critical thinking and experimentation, rather than being filled with ‘correct’ information (which inevitably fades in our memory). However, even after reading Freire and agreeing with his general thrust of how to approach the classroom, I am still left wondering how to actually apply this in my own classroom. Specifically, I wonder what practices, exercsies, dialogues, questions, are helpful for others in different disciplines, since I am sure it will vary by discipline, class, and for every teacher.

    1. I agree Sam. We often remember the approach or discussion we had in the classrooms rather than the material taught. And I think this is exactly the idea of critical pedagogy as you mentioned.

  2. Reem, I do agree with you in the sense that Freire’s comments are real but his wiring denotes an infuriating tone. While I was reading Freire’s words, I quickly was displeased with the tone of the author but it feels a little bit sad that in reality what he describes is what happens in most cases. I have the notion that this is changing given my previous course experiences but I things online are actually switching things back to the banking education exacerbated with the less contained environment online meetings possess.

    1. Thanks for sharing Daniel. I also agree, I found Freire’s to be a bit extreme in his description of the banking system, focusing only on the cons of it. And I think you might be right in terms of how online teaching has limited the space for open discussions. I am not taking any technical online course this semester, but I have experienced that last spring.

  3. Thank you so much for this post Reem! There were definitely moments of Freire’s writing that I disagreed with, particularly around the concept of oppression and the responsibility toward freedom relying almost entirely within the hands of those experiencing oppression. However, I think a lot of his writing comes from an impassioned place that was fatigued with fighting a system that – predominantly – is resistant to reflective practice and change. I agree with you that good teachers, or positionally reflective teachers aware of their inherent power as an instructor are open to being educated by their students. However, I think the ivory tower culture of higher education has resulted in too many educators who believe they no longer need to engage in these kind of practices and/or come from cultures that do not support the questioning or co-education with an instructor. All that to say, I really enjoyed your reflections on some powerful quotes and appreciate your honesty about not agreeing 100% with what he has to say.

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