Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Transforming Education - Paulo Freire

In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire critiques the predominant banking model of education for its primary objective of indoctrinating students with a certain set of facts and information pre-determined by the ruling class (Freire, 2007, p. 72). This method of education is faulty because the emphasis is on developing a store of information, without regard for the students ability to effectively process and utilize that information in real life situations. The criteria of success are quantitative, the more information the students can store and reproduce on standardized tests, the more effective the education. What is missed in this view of education is the reality that a student's ability to remember facts does not necessarily correlate to a students ability to think. Indeed, many students are discouraged from thinking in the banking model, as rote acceptance of predefined realities is encouraged.

The predominant banking model of education is very static, acting as an "immobilizing and fixating force" (Freire, 2007, p. 84). This approach applies the same standard across all individuals, regardless of their individual gifts and interests. The outcome of this system is that the individual feels disempowered and alienated from their own educational or vocational development. It is a hiearchical system that supposes that those in power "know best" (Freire, 2007, p. 54).

Freire proses problem posing education as an alternative to the banking model (Freire, 2007, p. 79). The student is encouraged to become part of the educational process, even to the point of breaking down the distinctions between teacher and student (Freire, 2007, p. 80). Key components of this pedagogy are the empowerment and freedom of the student. Instead of conforming to the static standards of the banking model, students are encouraged to think in new ways that are relevant to their specific context. In this approach, learning how to think receives a greater emphasis than what to think. This type of education is by its very nature anti-indoctrination, broadening the perspectives of students instead of narrowing them. At its best, students take on the role of teaching as well as learning, creating a dynamic synergy between the classroom and their own life experiences.

Unfortunately, the current No Child Left Behind policy enacted under the Bush administration is a strong shift to the banking model of education, forcing students and teachers alike to conform to static measurements of knowledge aquisition. Paulo Freire's critique is as important now as ever, as the problem's of today's global community require individuals who can create and pursue new ideas, instead of simply regurgitate facts.

Freire, P. (2007) Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group.


Melissa said...

Right on! I'm a big fan of Friere's educational "problem posing" theory--and I agree, Bush's No Child Left Behind Act is anything but a problem-posing approach.