Paulo Freire, an educator, philosopher, and advocate for education was born in Recife, Brazil. He is known as one of the most important educators of the twentieth century (Shih, 2018). At a young age, Freire began to develop ideas from his own experiences while living in Brazil. He believed in the fighting of oppression because during the 1930’s his family experienced periods of poverty. Coming from a middle-class economic background to living among the poor, made him understand that he can relate to the poor. His experiences lead him to wanting to help make the lives of poor people better. Paulo was an educator who taught literacy to people in the community who were oppressed. Paulo Freire book, “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” is known as one of the best books to approach critical pedagogy. Freire is also known for playing an important role in developing a successful campaign for literacy in Brazil (Shih, 2018).
In the book “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”, in chapter two, Paulo Freire discusses the teaching methods used in Brazil to describe the relationship between the teacher and the students. Freire introduced the teacher as the “narrating subject” and the students as “receptacles”. Freire discusses two concepts, the banking concept and the problem-posing education concept. The banking concept was used by the teacher. Freire stated that the banking concept is the scope of action that only allows the students to extend themselves to receive, fill, and store information (Freire,2005). Students were only receiving the knowledge that was taught to them by the teacher. They weren’t taught to think critically. The teachers were considered “depositors”, those who filled students with knowledge. In the text he stated that, “Words are emptied of their concreteness and become hollow and wordy”. The students are receiving the information to memorize it, instead of understanding what it really means.
Per the Offord dictionary, oppression is a cruel exercise of power. Chapter two also describes oppression as “overwhelming control”. Freire mentioned that having knowledge was a “gift,” and the oppressors used the knowledge on those who they considered inferior. In this case, Freire was saying that in the banking concept, teachers considered themselves to be knowledgeable while the students were not. Freire mentions in chapter two that “the more passive the student the less critically the student can engage in the world”. He also states that the banking concept of education serves the interest of oppression, because students are limited creativity.
Freire argues that the banking concept of education is not the concept teachers should be using in education. Instead this concept is limiting students from expanding their thoughts. Think about it, if the students are only filled with information without asking questions, how will they process other things and possibly grow. How will they develop questions and began to interpret material in other ways? Under the banking concept they will not. As stated in the chapter “the capability of banking education is to minimize the students’ creative power and to stimulate them from revealing the reality of the world”. This shows that the banking concept was designed only to teach people how to adapt to oppression. Instead of teaching students to think independently, the students are being taught what to create.
Teachers using the banking concept of education are operating as oppressors filling the students, so they will learn to become accustomed to the world we live in. It is unfortunate that however, the banking concept of education has been used around the world as a teaching strategy for many years. However, people do not realize that they are acting as oppressors or being oppressed. Freire mentions that he does believe that oppressors can realize that they are contributing to oppression and fix it (Freire, 2005). Freire believes that if the banking concept of education continues that eventually, “these contradictions may lead passives students to turn against their oppressors and attempt to reality” (Freire, 2005). He is referring that eventually the students will discover reality through their own experiences and then this may cause another problem.
Even though the banking concept was used as a method of teaching, Freire believed that the solution is not and cannot be found in the banking concept (Freire, 2005). Freire discusses the problem- posing concept. This concept was created to help the students and the teachers learn from one another. Instead of the teachers filling the students with knowledge, the roles can become dual. The students can receive knowledge, develop questions to better understand the information received, and have a mutual exchange of information.
Freire introduced the problem-posing concept of education as a concept to remove the concept of banking education to encourage teachers and students to partake in dialogue for them to grow. “Freire stressed that the cultivation of critical consciousness happens through dialogue between teachers and students in the teaching setting” (Shih, 2018). Freire believes that Liberation cannot be achieved through the banking concept, instead he stated that liberation education consists of acts of cognition, not transferals of information (Freire, 2005). Freire compares the banking concept and the problem-posing concept by giving many examples of each concept. He states that the banking concept of education resist dialogue while problem-posing education uses dialogue. Freire states in chapter two that, “problem-posing education can only fulfill its function of freedom only if it can overcome the above contradiction”. This means that for the educational system to function properly the banking concept needs to be replaced with the problem-posing concept. Freire believes that the banking concept “dichotomize everything in the action of the educator, while the problem-posing concept does not dichotomize the activity of the teacher-student”. Freire argues that the problem-posing concept is the best concept in education that is needed and can work to benefit both the teacher and student.
After reading this chapter and Freire argument, I agree that the problem posing education concept is the best approach to helping liberate the students. However, I also believe that the banking concept can be useful in some other way. Like for example, when learning steps to solving problems or memorizing words for a spelling bee in elementary school. The problem-posing concept will help the teachers and students share responsibility so that they both can grow and benefit. No one is better than anyone else. If only the teacher provided knowledge to the students, the knowledge that is being taught to the students, in my opinion would become repetitive. We learn something new every day and everyone has different points of views.
The problem posing concept is understanding that knowledge is not deposited from the teacher to the student, it is instead a concept that involves dialogue and interaction between the student and teacher. Freire argued that this is the best concept because it allows students to think critically, develop ideas, propose questions, and collaborate with their teachers to acquire knowledge. He believed that “in problem-posing education, people develop their power to think critically about the way they exist in the world” (Freire, 2005). He discusses how the two concepts come into conflict with one another as well, and how the change cannot be made through violence, instead it needs to be made through conversation.
According to Chapin (2014), policy development is the process by which policies are created and implemented in order to meet an identified need. In chapter two, Freire stated that “Education is suffering from narration sickness. He is referring to the teachers giving students information as if it is motionless, predictable or static (Freire, 2005). Freire argument relates to social policy because he identified the social policy change that needs to be implemented. He identified that the educational teaching methods, which is the banking concept that needs to be replaced. Freire believed that the only way the educational system would work is if the banking concept was replaced with the problem-posing concept. He was basically recommending to policy developers that they need to make some changes to the educational teaching methods and why those changes needed to be made.
Policies are designed to make sure rules are put into place so that things can operate effectively. Freire observed the education system in Brazil and the teaching methods used and noticed that students were not prospering. He felt like they were missing out on the freedom of education. His critique of the two concepts of education relates to social policy because it showed how the concepts benefited the students, whether it was good or bad. His argument will help the policy makes re-evaluate the policy and its effectiveness on the teachers and students. Freire critique relates to social policy development because he discusses the educational concepts and give his recommendations on implementing changes for those concepts.
Overall this chapter was very interesting. Freire wanted the students and the teachers to come together and learn from one another. This chapter helped give me a better understanding of Brazil educational system and some of its teaching methods. It made me realize that these teaching methods exist in my country also. Before reading this chapter, I was very ignorant to the banking and problem-posing concept. However, now that I know it has made me realize that the banking concept has been used as a teaching method by many of my teachers. It would start off as just the banking concept, but the teachers would end up applying both. It is important for teachers and students to understand that we are all learning from each other.
Yes, it is the educator’s duty to find out what the students know and educate them with information that can help them grow. But it is also important that educators know that it is okay to learn from the students. Freire argues that ordinary people are continually making history and being shaped by history (Finn, 2009). Freire fight for oppression and critical pedagogy encouraged him to advocate and make a difference for people. In chapter two of the “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”, Freire made us understand that he wanted to pull the rug from under the oppressors and liberate the students. He wanted the teachers and students to find a median, and I too believe that if they can find a median then the world of education would begin to be better.
- Chapin, R. K. (2014). Social policy for effective practice: A strengths approach (p.200). New York, NY: (3rd ed.) Routledge.
- Finn, J. L. (2009). Child’s Eye View. Childhood, youth, and social work in transformation: Implications for policy and practice (p.325). New York: Columbia University Press.
- Freire, P. (2005). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Donald Macedo. Oppression | Definition of oppression in English by Oxford Dictionaries. (n.d.). Retrieved October 27, 2018, from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/oppression
- Shih, Y.-H. (2018). Rethinking Paulo Freire’s Dialogic Pedagogy and Its Implications for Teachers’ Teaching. Journal of Education and Learning, 7(4), 130–235.