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.
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