Freire on Freedom of Education

When Paulo Freire examines the prevailing education system of his time, he concludes that education is more along the lines of propaganda rather than learning. His paper compares education with how much freedom it gives the student, and he labels traditional education as the “banking” concept. The banking concept is sustained by depositing bits of information into a student’s brain without letting the student question how it works or why it is relevant. Freire argues that any intellectual freedom that academia can offer is crushed by banking education because the students lose the ability to think for themselves and depend on the teachers to gain all of their knowledge.

As an alternative, Freire proposes “problem-posing” education as an alternative to banking education. Under problem-posing, the teacher would teach as well as learn from the student. This way, the student has a more active role in her educational experience. The ability to ask questions and to come up with their own theories is the basis of the students’ role in problem-posing. This is similar to what “progressive” education strives to emulate in the classroom.

John Dewey probably would have looked at problem-posing as an accommodating substitute for traditional education. Both Freire and Dewey saw traditional education as too restrictive and mechanical, however, Dewey also expressed his concern with an education that seeks to maximize “freedom”. Whereas Freire states the education is should provide a path to freedom, Dewey argues that education should be based off of experiences and encourage a lifelong path to gaining knowledge and wisdom through the accumulation of beneficial experiences.

2 responses to “Freire on Freedom of Education

  1. Given today’s education system, where students have multiple subjects and in each subject they have to learn daunting amounts of information, it almost seems impossible for there to be a way other than the baking system. It is true that the banking system merely deposits information into the students and does not allow the students to experience and question how it works, but it is the quickest way to get knowledge across. If we were to spend time on each individual piece of information that we are taught, then we would better understand what we have just learned, but it wail also take a lot of time. As a result, the banking system is the most plausible way of education, given the sheer volume of what we are supposed to learn.

  2. Time is very much a strong factor in determining which methods of education work and which don’t. Not every class would benefit from promoting discussion because hard facts are usually easier taught than discussed. The teacher should attempt to learn from the students, as Freire proposes, but she should not waste the students’ time in attempting a discussion that does not engage the students nor fails teaches them relevant material. Some students require very little instruction and discussion to fully comprehend the material, and they should get the most out of their time in the classroom.

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