The Banking Concept of Education- Current Connections

In “The Banking Concept of Education,” Paulo Freire delves into this academic ideology and explores its effects. He uses detailed descriptions, as well as examples to provide evidence for his thoughts on the subject. Freire works to share why the banking concept of education is demeaning, unaccommodating, and overall disadvantageous, while also promoting the idea for academic reform encouraging a problem-posing educational experience.

The commonly practiced banking of education relies on the idea that teachers must deposit information to their students. This focuses on the dichotomy that “a person is merely in the world not with the world or with others; the individual is spectator, not recreator”  (Freire, 2013). Furthermore, it enforces a narrative relationship between teacher and student. The teacher holds the power of thinking, understanding, speaking, and making all important decisions, while the student is reduced to a mere vessel used to contain the teacher’s content. The scholars are demoted to people of ignorance in need of such an authoritative role as the teacher takes on as a means to dehumanize the educational experience. They are forced to endure years of pure repetition and memorization of content that actually disconnects them from reality. Students take on a passive role in the classroom, greatly diminishing their creative and experimental mindsets. They are stripped of their ability to develop a critical consciousness and stifles their analysis skills. The student-teacher relationship is not permitted to have a sense of unity or coexistence, rather the teacher must take on a dominating role so the students will be more likely to submit, not only in the classroom, but also in a world of oppression. Forcing students to become the oppressed and the education system and its workers to be the original oppressors. This type of education does not promote true knowledge or culture and is overall disadvantageous for society.

During my high school years, I unfortunately was subject to the banking concept of education. My teachers were simply seen as a figure of authority and worked to deposit various facts and information in my brain. I was able to skillfully memorize and repeat these ideas, making me a straight A student and highly accomplished in this academic setting. However, I was always aware that I was never truly learning. The information would seemingly only apply to the tests; therefore, I saw no use for these concepts at the end of each year. I always asked why, but received little to no response as to how these ideas truly applied to myself or my future in society. This was especially apparent in my higher level math classes. In my AP calculus class, I would frequently ask how this will be applied in real life, but my teacher was unable to provide me with sufficient answers. I truly took on the role of a passive, oppressed learner. I even feared a variety of my educators because they abused their authoritative role, making their classroom a silent and questionless environment. I strongly disagree with the banking concept of education and can say from personal experience that this is not the most successful tactic to be applied in the classroom.

Moreover, Freire suggests a more progressive form of academics, problem-posing education. He suggests that we must reject the banking concept of education in order to liberate ourselves from this toxic classroom environment. We have to understand and reflect upon this denouncement of banking, acknowledging that humanization is key. Students must no longer be seen as objects and they must begin to think for themselves. Problem-posing education provides scholars with issues pertaining to themselves and the world around them, making their academic experience more personal and live. This form of instruction works to break down the contradiction between teacher and student. Dialogue will demolish the idea that teachers are simply the ones who educate and students are those that are taught, rather both parties are being taught and teaching simultaneously. “The students – no longer docile listeners- are now critical co-investigators in dialogue with the teacher” (Freire, 2013). This relationship is not considered narrative in problem-posing education, but now is seen as always cognitive. Creativity and experimentation thrive and flourish in this type of classroom. Education can be considered the practice of freedom, rather than oppression. In addition, critical perception and consciousness are developed in problem-posing education through the acknowledgement that the world is not static, rather it is dynamic and constantly changing. Freire highlights his ideological perspective in his push for reform. He clearly is in great support of students and their right to a better education. 

I strongly agree that problem-posing education should be promoted in schools today. Although the majority of my educational experience was unfortunately more closely related to the banking concept of education, I did have some educators who worked to incorporate this type of instruction into their lessons. My statistics teacher always worked to show us how stats is applied to our lives, and the community around us. He began each class with a student presentation of a stat in which we would analyze on the grounds of relevance and validity. Furthermore, he had a project in which each student had to venture into the community and gather information in order to perform tests on such data and come up with reasons as to why the stats concluded what they did. This showed us that statistics are relevant to our lives which made the information more easily attainable, better understood, and overall more interesting. I did my project on the number of men and women who brought their pets into a local pet store. I found that more women were willing to bring their furry companions to the store. I hope to be like this teacher when I am in the classroom. His implementation of problem-posing education allowed me to view the world in terms of math, rather than simply using this information as a means to ace a test. More teachers should work to break down this frequently practiced banking concept in order to work for a better future for students and the overall society. I am glad Freire is working to put this information out there so more educators and students alike can push for this reform. I admire his ideological perspective and his willingness to speak out against this commonly accepted practice. 

My current connections article, “Relationship Between Student and Teacher” speaks about the importance of student-teacher bonds. The piece was published by The New Nation in 2020 and, similar to Freire’s work, renounces the banking concept of education. The article goes into depth about how teachers should be empathetic and encouraging towards students which relies on a basis of understanding that both participants in the relationship must have. The author details how the teacher must provide care, and trust in the classroom. The article incorporates the multitude of benefits that come about because of this positive and healthy relationship, as well as how to develop it in the classroom. Freire’s piece also highlights the importance of positive student-teacher relationships and their place in the problem-posing educational experience. Both works show that these bonds are vital in education and that teachers should not simply be seen as authoritative figures with all encompassing power, rather they should co-exist with the students in order to create a better classroom for everyone.

For this week’s presentation, my group and I decided it was best to split into breakout rooms in order to have more fulfilling discussions. I began my presentation in each room with an overview of my current connections article and how it relates to this week’s piece on the grounds of conversational student teacher relationships. I then asked each group what are the benefits of a positive student teacher relationship as a means to get them thinking about the advantages before I reveal what the article said. Most people claimed that the scholars would feel comfortable in the classroom, fostering a more encouraging and fruitful learning experience. The article identified that students are more successful in school with increased student engagement and higher grades. There is higher attendance, fewer disruptions, less aggression in and out of the classroom, and a decreased school dropout rate. I found this to be greatly encouraging for teachers to incorporate this in the classroom. It shows that students truly reap the benefits of this relationship which affects their life both in and out of school. The article identifies the importance of feedback in the process of obtaining this positive student-teacher relationship, so my next inquiries forced my classmates to think about how effective feedback is and whether grades are a good basis of deciding if a teacher can be considered successful. I agreed with my peers’ perspectives that feedback is vital in order to learn and grow with your students. Grades are not always a true indicator of a positive classroom experience. As I mentioned before, I always received good grades in high school, but this was due to my forced memorization and recitation skills that were developed during my experiences with the banking concept of education, not always because of my teacher’s educating capabilities. My classmates seemed to have similar experiences and all understand that simply getting an A in a class did not directly correlate with the teacher’s performance. This hopefully encouraged my peers to ask for feedback in the future in order to continue to improve in their classrooms, always creating the best experience for the students. 

Furthermore, I then prompted each group to ponder how a teacher could create this positive relationship in the classroom before discussing what the article had to say about it. Most students continued on the trek that feedback was key to truly understanding your students and bettering your relationship with them. The article identified eight ways in which teachers could foster these relationships. I focused on the last tip given to educators, “Teachers can’t be friends with kids, but they can connect through common interests” (The New Nation, 2020). I asked the class what they thought about this concept. There were a variety of conflicting answers which prompted me to come to the conclusion that this question all depends on how a person defines a friendship.Some people took it as a closer relationship than others, thus concluding that it should not be found in the classroom. Others saw that friendships are needed in the classroom in order to create this positive rapport. I agreed more with the ladder of the two, interpreting friendship in a more broad sense.

Next, I presented my classmates with a comic and asked what they felt the illustration meant and their thoughts on teachers’ interpersonal skills.

Most conversations resulted in the idea that students need emotional support, but questioned how responsible the teacher is for said support. My classmates and I agreed that educators must have some level of people skills, but they can not be considered therapists. However, we did not highlight where this line should be drawn and simply decided that it solely depends on individual experiences. Dr. Shutkin identified that the cartoon also delved into the debate of whether teachers should be allowed to give hugs to their students. After the class discussion, I found an article by Matthew Luginbill, “Why Don’t you Give us Hugs?” which goes deeper into this subject and both sides of the debate. I believe that teachers should be permitted to give hugs at appropriate times, like the one in the cartoon, but there is a line to be drawn to where this physical affection must end. 

My final question to my classmates related to Gloria Ladson-Billings’ piece, “But That’s Just Good Teaching! A Case for Culturally Relevant Pedagogy.” I asked whether they believed that teachers struggled to connect to students of differing races or cultures, thus making it difficult to develop these important relationships. Ladson-Billings discusses this disconnect in her piece and how to truly incorporate black students into the classroom. I agreed with my classmates that it is more difficult for teachers to make these bonds because they lack the understanding necessary to do so. I provided the class with a link to Jay Wamsted’s Article, “27 Mistakes White Teachers of Black Students Make and How to Fix Them.” As a white teacher of African American students, Wamsted is able to speak on how we can fix this gap and create positive, more fulfilling relationships with students of varying races and cultures. I strongly agree that teachers must understand this disconnect and learn how to fix it which is why I urge my classmates to. Students of all colors and cultures deserve the right to a comfortable and rewarding educational experience which begins with the teacher.

I enjoyed my current connection this week. I was able to truly be the teacher and student in my discussions with the class, thus incorporating a problem-posing educational experience. I was even told by two students that I truly made them ponder what it means to be an educator in a new light which really made my day. I hope to continue to have this positive impact in future discussions and classroom instruction when I am a teacher!

References

Freire, P. (2013/1972). The banking concept of education. In A. S. Canestrari & B. A. Marlowe (Eds.), Education 

foundations: An anthology of 

critical readings (3rd ed., pp. 103-115). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Luginbill, M. (n.d.). Why Don’t you Give us Hugs? Retrieved from 

https://oaesa.org/navigator-articles/Why%20Don’t%20You%20Give%20Us%20Hugs%20-%20Principal%20Navig

ator%20Fall%202018%20-%20032-033.pdf

Ladson-Billings, G. (2016/1995). But that’s just good teaching! The case for culturally relevant pedagogy. In E. Blair & Y. Medina (Eds.), The

social foundations reader: Critical essays on teaching, learning and leading in the 21st century (pp. 285-292). New York, NY: Peter Lang.

The New Nation. (2020, March). Relationship Between Student and Teacher. Retrieved from 

http://m.thedailynewnation.com/news/248324/relationship-between-teacher-and-student

Wamsted, J. (2020, January 07). 27 Mistakes White Teachers of Black Students Make and how to Fix 

Them. Retrieved March 18, 2021, from 

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