Freire: Banking Model of Education
Paulo Friere’s book Pedagogy of the Oppressed is a book that most of us have either read or read about and one that has sold almost 6 lakh copies and Freire is one of the most famous educational philosophers of the twentieth century. The part of the book that is being introduced here is where Friere discusses the ‘banking’ model of education, or the traditional approach in teaching where teachers “deposit” facts and ideas into the students’ minds, instead of involving them in actively generating their own ideas, helping them make knowledge relevant and productive in their own real lives.
Friere suggests here that the banking model of education is usually used by, or works in favor of, the rulers/oppressors of the society; teachers in such systems may teach without even realizing how they are being used by the oppressive system. By simply banking given ideas as knowledge in their students, they help the system ‘brainwash’ young people into believing in the status quo, into accepting the patterns of inequality and injustice as ‘natural’ and ideal, and into disciplining them in the name of education so the system can always benefit from the established values, stability, culture, etc.
The alternative approach to education that Friere suggests here is what he calls the ‘problem-posing’ approach. To simplify, this approach involves the teacher presenting problems of real life before students, including perhaps the problems of traditional education, so students can think about those problems for themselves and in relation to the reality of their lives, and learn through solving real problems. By helping students see that education is creating knowledge that matters to the learner, that knowledge is a ‘process of inquiry’, and that they “educate the teacher” in the process of creating knowledge, a true teacher can transform the system of education and the society in favor of the learner instead of molding them to fit in and ’succeed’ in the system.
This quick introduction to the reading already sounds ineffectual…. please enjoy Friere himself, now available online (at this site). If you wish to read more, almost the entire book is now available online here.