Banking Education vs. Problem Posing Education

The essay “The “Banking” Concept of Education” by Pualo Freire describes two different systems of education. One is the banking system and the other is the problem-posing. The banking system that is described is quite close to the educational system that is in place throughout the schools of America or even the world. Freire writes about how he despises this method of teaching/learning and compares it heavily with his more preferred style, the problem posing system. In the problem-posing method teachers and students are equal rather than one being the narrator and the other simply a filing cabinet such as in the banking education system. Although I have experienced both methods of teaching in my educational career, it usually seemed that one or the other was more prominent depending on the subject I was taking.

The claims that Freire made in his essay about the system of banking education were too severe in my opinion. Freire states that the banking education system is dehumanizing and it leads students to not think critically. No matter what is studied or memorized for the purpose of being repeated on a test there are still the decisions that need to be made by each individual. What to wear or what to have for lunch and even what to color a picture of are all decisions that school-age children make daily. The methods used in banking education may cause students to “learn” things for a short period of time for the purposes of test taking but going as far as to say that they are being made into less of a human being and taught not to think for themselves is ridiculous.

One of the major problems with the system of banking education that Freire writes about is relationship between the teacher and the student. The main point when discussing this issue was the fact that the banking system continued to contradict the fact that both the teacher and the students need to become both teachers and students, not just one or the other. About the banking system Freire states, “It attempts to control the thinking and action, leads women and men to adjust to the world, and inhibits their creative power.” If the methods of banking education were taken to the most extreme point of not allowing students to think outside of the limits set upon them by their instructor they would at that point be experiencing dehumanization. It is my personal belief that there are a very minuscule number of cases like this in the world.

The problem posing education system takes an entirely different stance than that of the banking education system in that it allows students and teachers to talk and discuss things freely while learning from each other. It also allows both parties involved to step outside of the box and question others and the world that surrounds them and think imaginatively. This is possible in the problem-posing education system because both parties are equal. There are no restraints on either group to act or think a certain way. In my own experiences with a problem-posing system of education I have felt more comfortable to discuss things openly for the simple fact that I was not afraid of being penalized for having an opinion different than that of the instructor. Another imperative reason that problem-posing education allows both groups to interact together is that the methods of this system rely on it. The problem-posing education system would not be if one party refused to step outside of the boundaries that society has placed on education. Beau Freire also makes it clear that each person’s individual perception is very important in the problem posing system and not at all considered in the banking system of education.

It is important for each individual to perceive the world and everything in it in their own way because literally everything is based on perception. Seeing “static reality” as Freire puts it and reconstructing it into something that one can learn and grow from and being able to perceive it is taught in the problem posing system. This reconstruction would not be brought up in a banking system setting because in this situation the students are to perceive things and know things only as the teacher presents them.

Freire says, “Students who can be led to adapt to the world and the most easily dominated.” This certainly makes sense. Obviously if somebody has only experienced what the oppressor has provided for them they will be more easily controlled. This goes to show that the teacher is oppressing the students because he views himself as more knowledgeable than his students and the fact that they wouldn’t know any better than to accept the oppressing. No person in the presence of the oppressing whether it is the oppressor or the oppressed is benefiting because according to the problem posing system of education the teacher and the students are to learn from each other and not just one from the other.

There has been one vivid experience in my life that I have had with problem-posing education. My teacher really proved that what Freire has to say about education works. English was always my easiest subject in ninth, tenth and eleventh grade so when I walked into the first day of twelfth grade English Lit and Comp I was expecting it to be just as smooth of course as the others. I was so wrong. My teacher was so different, the way she taught was that like I had never experienced before. I hated it, it challenged me and pushed me and made me think about things that I didn’t want to care about. At first I blamed it on the fact that my teacher was a part-time college student. I figured she had a lot to deal with and is only giving us a taste of what was to come the next year. When I later asked her why she taught the way she did she said that that was only part of the reason. She said that she felt that when she ran class way she did my peers and I took more knowledge away from her course knowing not only more about English but more about ourselves and each other. I didn’t understand her at all but figured there was nothing I could do about it so I dealt. After reading the essay I realize, as I look back on English that year more than what Paulo Freire was talking about, I now understand that it is true. The class was like none that I had ever experienced and that was the reason that I despised it with such a fierce passion. We read our text (whether it be a movie or a book or a play) and then we would have class-driven discussions. The discussions were set up similar to a book club. We would all sit in a circle and listen to one another while we each gave our inputs. The teacher would agree and disagree as though it were a conversation among friends. One example of this was when we were discussing our different interpretations of a particular scene in the play “Hamlet”. Our teacher put out and idea and the entire class was silent in agreement with her although it was very clear that everybody did not agree! I was the only one to speak up because the teacher refused to move on until someone said something. Being one of the three students that actually said anything in class I was the first to speak up and that was hard because I didn’t know if mine was the answer that she was looking for. As is turns out she had deliberately put out this comment to see what we would generate in response. This class was so difficult for me because it forced me to be an individual and not just tell the teacher what she wanted to hear. As Freire states in his essay, it forced me to become creative, interpret things and have an opinion, all of which was very different from the other classroom experiences I came across throughout my high school years.

In general I would say that Freire’s theories about the methods of problem posing education held true to my experiences in my English class. However, there is one, rather major, flaw. Although the class was based primarily on the methods of Problem Posing education there was still a substantial amount of the Banking Education system present. This was due to papers, tests and worksheets which of course all had to be graded. In the experience of my English class Freire’s claims were supported minus the fact that the banking system is inevitable in today’s methods or systems of teaching. Freire wants and educational system more like that of the problem posing method where teachers teach students and students teach teachers. I agree with Freire, however until somebody finds a way to make it work then I think we are making due with what we have.