In the essay The “Banking” Concept of Education, Paulo Freire makes an attack on the conventional way of teaching. He facetiously gives the style of teaching the title the “banking concept.” This common method of teaching is, in Freire’s words, “…in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiques and makes deposits which the student is neither given the chance nor allowed to think for his or her self; the student merely assimilates the data given to them by the teacher.” The students are taught to memorize what they are told and not to question why they are learning that two plus two is four or why they need to learn the states. They are simply expected to memorize. The students are just empty vessels waiting to be filled with facts and truths, without the knowledge to apply the concepts they have learned to other situations. Under the banking concept, there is no inquiry, therefore, according to Freire, education is impossible since is something that “emerges only through the invention and reinvention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry men pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.”
Next Freire turns the “banking scenario” to a much larger scale. A scenario filled with world leaders. He then proceeds to say that oppressors like the “banking method” because the people “accept the passive role imposed on them,… they tend to simply adapt to the world as it is…” The classic method allows the oppressors to “brainwash” the public to keep them under control, since the people only know what they were taught. The way to reach the “real” truths has been left out of the “banking method.”, Creating a community of people who do not know how to think for themselves. Therefore, the oppressor does not have to worry about the people being in a state of disquiet or any revolutionary action. The people do not have the stimulation to rise up.
The solution to all this? Freire instead advocates the problem-posing method. The teacher and the student undertake the material on an equal and therefore, more productive level through the posing and solving of problems. Communication becomes vital to the whole learning process. Freire puts it as, “Only through communication can human life hold meaning.” To create free thinking, the lines are blurred between teacher and student and the roles are intertwined. The teacher is the guide on the students pursuit, yet “the teacher cannot think for his students, nor can he impose his thoughts on them.”
Freire is an excellent writer, whose work I honestly enjoyed reading. He makes a very good point that the education system is not what it could or should be. He also has an inspirational and clever idea on how to make things work out for the better. However, there are some major flaws in his ideas and he has passed over a few major points. While Freire encourages every person to pursue an education, he makes it a given for humans in general, therefore the importance of education can be easily lost. Freire also places almost no value on the role of the student within education. It rests on the teacher alone to determine a successful learning experience. He divides education between the teachers, when really it is more a matter of dividing the students between those who think for themselves and those who do not. His model creates something more like two types of mimics: those who mimic other peoples thinking and those who mimic the teachings of how to think. Yet it seems that the two styles of learning, the “banking method” and the problem-posing method, must meld together if the learning experience is to be successful.
A student cannot learn anything without the foundation gained by traditional learning. A second grader could not be expected to grasp why he is learning why two plus two is four, but if he learns the knowledge that it is, then that sets him up for learning the reasoning behind it at a more advanced age. Yet the child cannot be expected to do anything but absorb facts all his educational years, that would leave him altogether unprepared for the “real world”. Therefore, the only thing left to do is to integrate the two methods into each other.