Not an Isolated Case

Pedagogy of the Oppressed, by Paulo Freire explains the issue with education presently is the concept he explains as “banking”.  “Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiqués and makes deposits which the students patiently receive…” (72). In other words, no one is really learning anything from education, for the teacher teaches subjects that are hollow and have no relevancy, and the students eagerly take it, trusting in the knowledge of the teacher.

The problem with Education, Freire explains, is the polarization between the student-teacher relationships. He draws from Hegel in the bottom of page 72, stating that, “…students, alienated like the slave in the Hegelian dialect, accept their ignorance as justifying the teacher’s existence…” (72). Indeed, the very core of “banking” education is to oppress the creativity of students, and to keep them oppressed against those who would sell them knowledge.

I cannot help but to turn to colleges/universities as I read through Freire. My generation, I feel, has been spoon-fed to believe that we can only be successful if we obtain a college degree. College of course, is not free; it is a business, where they sell their knowledge to prospective students. Inter-collegiately, colleges compete with one another to sell to the general public who is a better choice to send their children to learn. Their goal is not to teach you, you must teach yourself. Like an addict looking for a quick fix, colleges will sweet-talk and coerce you into signing with them, excluding others from taking a share in your money, and after they charge you for admission, they leave you. Alone.

This is a cynical view of education, but it is not a random occurrence in society. Everything in life is a trade, a choice between one or more parties to barter goods and services. Everyone wants a cut; it just depends on what you are willing to give up.

2 responses to “Not an Isolated Case

  1. I agree with your comment completely. But I think that there is not a general conception across the states of how to obtain success. Certainly, where I am from in Conneticut and the places I have lived (Florida and New york) it is heavily stressed by parents that their children MUST go to college. It is so heavily stressed that in some homes their is not even a conversation of whether or not the child is going to college, it is just a given, its already been declared the moment you were born into that family. However, its quite different in many places of the country. I have friends in rural parts of Texas and in hippy towns in Califronia where there parents don’t necessarily stress to their children that they must go to college in order to be successful. A few of these friends have just gone into their field of work right after high school or continued their sport (hoping to play professionally).

  2. Illich also discusses education as a business in Deschooling Society (I’m not sure if he mentioned it in the pages we read, I think he may have). But there have also been dramatic changes in the education industry since the ’70s. Higher education institutions in particular are increasingly being explicitly run with “business principles” in mind. The Chronicle of Higher Education frequently features editorials on the increase in administrator positions that contribute to the rising cost of tuition, and here is another article that deals with the topic.

    Your comments about success stuck me as highly relevant to the material for this week on Foucault. There is a “discourse of success” — of what it means to be successful, what is valued, what narrative we have about it in our culture, etc.

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