Teach Me Your Ways (and Your Ways Only)!

I found Paulo Freire’s concepts and ideas in Pedagogy of the Oppressed very eye opening but rather depressing to be honest.  The way Freire compared the education system as a banking system really made me question if there is any real hope in today’s more traditional educational system.  As taken aback as I was from this work, I would have to say that agree with most of his points.

For instance, I thought it was intriguing to see that Freire write that “education is suffering from narration sickness,” (71).  Once I really thought about it, I noticed how much truth there really is to this statement, at least in comparison to most of my educational experiences.  I never quite realized how many classes I’ve attended where a teacher has literally spewed out information at me and the rest of my pupils and we were never expected to really inquire or discuss the lessons in depth.  The teacher always had a strict lesson plan and what he or she said was final.

A more specific example would actually be of one of my classes here at Emory.  It’s in a smaller classroom setting where attendance is regularly taken and there aren’t more than 20 students enrolled.  Initially I assumed that, similar to my other classes of this size, this class would be heavily discussion based and that vocal participation was often expected, if not required.  To my surprise, during one of our review sessions before a test, our TA briefly stated that this class was strictly a lecture.  Sure our professor might ask a general question to the class every now and then but he made it clear that it was not really a class for open discussion.  Granted, there have been times where we’ve turned it into more of a discussion based class but overall, our professor has a set agenda and uses all of class time to get through the lectures in full.  So in this example, my professor was more like a narrator in this situation instead of a professor who uses a “problem-posing” based curriculum.


2 responses to “Teach Me Your Ways (and Your Ways Only)!

  1. Your post mirrors what many people, including myself, have experienced in our educations. While I agree that too much strict dictation can be unhelpful in learning, I find it hard to come up with some ways certain classes can incorporate problem-posing. For instance, biology classes would probably be less effective if the teacher asked the class the functions of a certain body part rather than explaining to the class what scientists have concluded to be the role inside the human body. Do you have any suggestions on how to incorporate Friere’s ideas into your banking learning-based class?

  2. I agree with most of what you have said here in your post. Some lecturers do, as Freire phrased it, create “docile listeners” that are not engaged in the material being presented. This can be quite typical, as you have pointed out, in lecture based classes, and is especially true of large lecture hall classes.

    However, I have found here at Emory that some professors are trying to surpass the traditional teaching style of a large lecture hall class and incorporate discussion and problem solving. One professor specifically is Dr. Weinschenk, who teaches two large organic chemistry lectures currently. He has made it a point to learn the names of everyone in class and will call out students at random times to answer a question or discuss what the next approach should be on a problem. This is an effective means of lecturing and is more discussion/experienced based because no one knows when they might be called out to discuss the material being covered, so they must stay engaged in order to answer his questions.

    Also, many professors are incorporating clickers or Learning Catalytics technology in the classroom. This also encourages engagement and discussion amongst the class because often professors want the students to talk to each other about the problems being proposed. Technology use in the classroom has really helped, in my experience, avoid the “narration sickness” and traditional notes and lecture style of learning.

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