Saturday, May 9, 2009

Critical Pedagogy: Paulo Freire and the Banking Theory of Education

Paulo Freire's Banking Theory of Education positions students as empty vessels to be filled by the teacher. According to Paulo Freire in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, education is traditionally framed as "an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor" (Pedagogy of the Oppressed 58). In this framework, the teacher lectures, and the students "receive, memorize, and repeat" (58). Freire explains that banking education is generally characterized by the following oppressive attitudes and practices:

  • the teacher teaches and the students are taught;
  • the teacher knows everything and the students know nothing;
  • the teacher thinks and the students are thought about;
  • the teacher talks and the students listen-meekly;
  • the teacher disciplines and the students are disciplined;
  • the teacher chooses and enforces his choice, and the students comply;
  • the teacher acts and the students have the illusion of acting through the action of the teacher;
  • the teacher chooses the program content, and the students (who are not consulted) adapt to it;
  • the teacher confuses the authority of knowledge with his own professional authority, which he sets in opposition to the freedom of the students;
  • the teacher is the Subject of the learning process, while the pupils are mere objects (59).
If any of this speaks to you, I would highly recommend reading Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire. Keith and I use it in our courses, and it is always one of those books that students find extremely powerful and transformative. If you're not familiar with Freire or Critical Pedagogy, then click here Critical Pedagogy on the Web, and it will take you to the site where the above information comes from.

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