(Don’t) Bank on It

Reading Paulo Freire’s two cents on education reminds me a lot of any dystopian novel/movie I’ve ever read/watched. He says that the education nowadays is a type of “banking” education, where the job of the teacher is to deposit information into the student, much like anyone would deposit money into their bank accounts.

This type of education is what Freire believes allows the domination of the “oppressors,” the people perpetuating this form of banking education, over the students. The oppressors use education as a form of ensuring their power over the younger generations. By taking out the meaning and questioning aspects of learning, the oppressors cultivate a passive mindset in the students that makes it easy to control them.

In addition, he criticizes this form of education because it does not offer partnership during the course of learning. In the “banking” structure, teachers are always in the higher position, and they are the only ones that can teach. But as we all know, teachers aren’t really the only ones teaching and can actually learn a lot from their students.

As I was reading his theory, I was very skeptical of what he was saying. Me, a container? Caroline the bank account? I didn’t believe that he was accurately reflecting on the current state of education. As I kept reading though, I started to connect some of his claims with experiences I’ve had in my real life. At times, I do feel as though my teachers expect me to absorb knowledge at face value and that my sole purpose as a student is to memorize and regurgitate information.

So maybe the situation Freire’s talking about isn’t just in dystopian novels, but also in our reality. Have you guys experienced “banking” education? If so, do you guys think that his “problem posing” form of education is the right way to educate students instead of the banking method?

3 responses to “(Don’t) Bank on It

  1. I think that in some cases the problem posing form of education is better than banking education but that is not to say there aren’t situations where the banking method of education might be preferred. Like so many other things determining the best method has to do with the specific circumstances, the “there” and “now”. I think there are some subjects, like math or anatomy, that are very vocabulary dependent and therefore more suited to the banking method. Whereas, some subjects, like english or philosophy, are more liberal and critical and are therefore more suited to the problem posing form of education. In coming to college I definitely have been exposed to more problem posing methods of education than ever before but sometimes I miss the good ol’ plug n’ chug banking system. It was easier for one thing and probably a lot easier to standardize and direct that problem posing education.

  2. Freire’s argument is similar to the arguments made by Rousseau and Dewey. They all basically argue for a more engaging type of education that promotes more student participation and less rote memorization. However, our education system has changed a lot since their times. I would not describe our current education system as a “banking” system. Especially at college, memorization is no longer the sole means of education. Students now work on research projects, presentations, analysis papers, and much more. Students engage in intellectual debates and discussions in their classes. I feel that the students are no longer mere containers but active seekers of knowledge.

  3. Caroline, I want to take a moment to just say how much I love your punny blog titles!

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