13 August 2010

Down with the Banking Theory

Philosophy and Religion, Part 8a

Down with the Banking Theory

It was Paolo Freire who gave us the word “conscientise”.

It was Paulo Freire, more than any other, who showed how the bourgeois education system, with its “banking” theory of pedagogy (please download and read today’s text, linked at the bottom of this document), is not well designed to educate, in the fullest sense, but rather tends to reproduce the class relations that suit the bourgeoisie.

Education, which should by nature liberate the student, is made by the bourgeoisie into a means of repression, said Freire.

How can we make sure that education is part of the building of socialism and communism? To ask such a question is to “problematise” education. To ask such a question is to begin a “dialogue” about education.

Freire thought that for the political education of the oppressed, if it was not to be patronising and therefore counter-productive, by reproducing and reinforcing features of the oppressive bourgeois state, then the method for this purpose would have to be different and new.

In the dialogical method that Paulo Freire devised and called the Pedagogy of the Oppressed, or otherwise Critical Pedagogy, there is no elementary, junior, senior, matriculation, undergraduate, post-graduate, doctorate or professor level. Teachers are learners and learners are teachers; yet all are free-willing subjects, capable of leadership at any moment.

As much as there may be a room and a gathering of individuals, each known by name, and a “codification” which is the text or other object prepared for the occasion, yet the dialogue admits no limits. The Freirean gathering is not sheltered. It is one of the essentials of Freirean Pedagogy that we refuse the fiction of the sheltered classroom, and instead recognise that the oppressor is around us and even within us, while we strive to liberate ourselves through our mutual pedagogical dialogue.

In Freirean practice, there is no such thing as a basic level, or an advanced level. All that we can do is to begin a common process of “problematising”, beginning with education itself.

For the late Freire (pictured above and top), and for the Freireans of today, all education is a political act and a social act; an act of liberation and of self-liberation.

Chapter two is the shortest and the easiest of the four chapters of Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”. Please download it and read it.

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Further (optional) reading:

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