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Banking of Education

December 21, 2008

I read the post, which Pamthropologist referred to it ‘Teen Narcissism‘. However, I think some students do really miss  or lack the feeling of their existence and the way the social networking, etc give them the chance to experience this feeling of existence. I assume their words matters; they need to communicate but the challenge for professors is to first establish communication with them by listening to their words, and by listening the professor, thus, is teaching them to listen. The true challenge is to create a solid bridge, or channel with fair exchange of knowledge. They will not as I assume willing to listen to the professor’s guidance unless they feel that they are not treated as ‘uncompleted beings’ as Paulo Freire describes in his book Pedagogy of the Oppressed, in chapter two, in which the notion of ‘banking of education’ is discussed.

Banking of Education

The notion of communication between students-teachers or professors is in Freire’s terms, they are the ‘depositories’ and the ‘depositor’. In my vision, students are the products of their teachers or professors. Without doubt, students as well have agency since some of them are self-motivated, ambitious and searching for knowledge keenly. Yet, this is not always the case. Building a strong and positive communication attitude between teacher, or professors with their students, play a vital role in the process of their learning. If the students buy everything the teachers or the professors say, without fair discussion, the students will turn to be parrots repeating what their educators say. And, what is even worse is that the parrots are unable to repeat what they are being trained to say correctly since, in this context, the students are memorizing not comprehending and are not developing their own ideas based on their understanding, as if their understandings are immature.

Quoting Freire,

The outstanding characteristic of this narrative education, then, is the sonority of words, not their transforming power. Four times four is sixteen; the capital of Para is Belem. The student records, memorizes, and repeats these phrases without perceiving what four times four really means, or realizing the true significance of capital in the affirmation the capital of Para is Belem, that is, what Belem means for Para and what Para means for Brazil.

Let us adopt the perspective that the students are not being able to develop their own ideas or there are not well developed. Then, who is responsible to develop them. Are not the role of the teachers and professors to do help them to think and develop their own thoughts? And in order to the educators to help in developing their students ideas, and visions, the communication between the students and their educators is the bridge in which the student’s ideas can be developed, enhanced, and enriched. Thus, discussions and communications here are the core answers. Sadly, some students are passively think that their roles in schools and universities to attend the lectures, write notes of the lecture, and go back home to write their assignments just for the sake of the grade not learning as a way of being. This being needs to be developed to be able to reach the being mood. The question here for the students, is your degree is all about having a certificate or through your road of having it you are creating your being state. Now, let us turn this question to the teachers do you teach out of having  a job without a soul. If someone to be blamed about what Freire refers to it as ‘banking of education’, then it is the educational system, in which the both educators and students are imbedded in. In fact, each educational institution should create programs and workshops teach what does the word communication mean? And, how it could be achieved between teachers or professors and their students. However, I do believe there are many educators do not need this type of workshops since they have already reached the level of being. On the other hand, many others badly need to attend these types of workshops ( If their educational institutions thought to offer it!).

The more students accept the passive role imposed on them, the more they tend simply to adapt to the world as it is and to the fragmented view of reality deposited in them. The more students accept the passive role, which is imposed on them, the more these students adapt to “the world as it is”, in other words, they play passive roles in their societies since “the fragmented view of reality deposited in them”. Despite of this negative phenomena, one can not blame and the professors or the teachers and see them as the cause of this ‘banking’ since they themselves accomplished their education in a system in which ‘depositor’ and ‘depositories’ are the main players on its stage. Thus, in this context, it would not be surprising that the ‘depositories’ to become ‘depositors’! Unbanked education creates generations of liberated individuals. On the contrary, ‘banked education’ generates ‘uncompleted beings’ and with caged minds. They are oppressed beings without and the most sad part of this topic is that they are not being aware of their ‘oppression’, their de-liberating their students’ minds and their compressing their students’ creativity. As Freire states, “the capability of banking education [is] to minimize or annul the students’ creative power”. After reading the next quote, one may ask: Is there and end of knowledge or is it limited? Those who consider themselves knowledgeable and playing the role of the ‘depositors’, are not they missing much from communicating with the ‘depositories’?

“In the banking concept of education, knowledge is a gift bestowed by those who consider themselves knowledgeable upon those whom they consider to know nothing”.

For Freire, “projecting an absolute ignorance onto others, a characteristic of the ideology of oppression”, not only the oppressed are the victims of this sort of characteristic but also the oppressors are victims as well. Since they are missing the whole point of the great outcome of communication and discussion with their students as each the educator and the student is human being with a mind; there is no complete knowledge in one single mind. In the core of the notion of knowledge is that it is never will come to an end; however, it will keep modified, changed, shared and all of this cannot be achieve except by communicating, sharing, and discussing. In addition, the notions of power and control are obvious in Ferire’s words, such as the word ‘domination’. In Ferire’s words, “for the more the oppressed can be led to adapt to that situation, the more easily they can be dominated”. It is needless to elaborate that the ‘oppressed’ and ‘dominated’ in this previous sentence refers to the students. Then, why this type of oppressors demands more power and domination over their students? Ferire answers, it is to maintain the system of banking of education. Despite the negative tone in beginning of the chapter of banking of education, Ferire is later on gave a ‘hope’ to the oppressed or the ‘depositories’ and in the same time he gave an alarming message the oppressors or the ‘depositors’,  by stating that:

“Those who use the banking approach, knowingly or unknowingly (for there are innumerable well-intentioned bank-clerk teachers who do not realize that they are serving only to dehumanize), fail to perceive that the deposits themselves contain contradictions about reality. But, sooner or later, these contradictions may lead formerly passive students to turn against their domestication and the attempt to domesticate reality. They may discover through existential experience that their present way of life is irreconcilable with their vocation to become fully human. They may perceive through their relations with reality that reality is really a process, undergoing constant transformation. If men and women are searchers and their ontological vocation is humanization, sooner or later they may perceive the contradiction in which banking education seeks to maintain them, and then engage themselves in the struggle for their liberation”.

My question here is with the existence of different sorts of communication means via the Internet, such as email, facebook, blogs, and other social networking, is it possible to argue that they might be functioning as new channels of communication between students and their professors or teachers! And how anthropologists share knowledge online as O.W states in his research proposal. I would like to add to that how anthropology students and professors share knowledge online!

Here is the link of the chapter, in which Ferire devoted to discussing the notion of ‘banking of education’

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Sari(ta) permalink
    December 24, 2008 12:40 am

    I very much enjoyed your post, especially your argument that students today have been encouraged to embrace passivity.

  2. January 1, 2009 11:43 pm

    Thank you Sari(ta) for your comment. I believe part of solving such passivity is to spread awareness among students as well as teachers and professors…Also blogging itself can function as a great tool to communicate with others in the field, which might help in strengthening the students’ thinking, writing and communicating skills. Sometimes communicating through blogging and commenting is more fruitful than silent discussions in some of the classrooms. Blogging is a learning process especially if one is blogging about his or her own field. Sharing knowledge, in the blog sphere among professors, graduate or undergraduate students, is fascinating since various topics stimulate the minds of both the blogger and the commenter to think.


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