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It terms of being—and by being, I mean actually existing—a lot of thinking must take place. This brings cogito ergo sum into a whole new light. In an almost literal sense, one must be able to think to actually be alive. After all, what’s the point in existing if you can’t think? Philosophy is actually something I really enjoy, so Freire’s comments about existing creates many doors to many new conversations. 

In a completely different sense, a lot more thinking must be done for a college English class! But the questions arise almost immediately: what are we thinking about? and why are we thinking? Now, it can’t be said that any teacher of any class is ever forcing any of his or her students to think. But the teacher of a class usually has plans for learning, plans beyond what the students can understand. This, in the “Banking” concept, gives the teacher power. It gives the teacher more knowledge, and, like the poster in my high school calculus teacher’s class says, “knowledge is power.” This agency brings the students down to a lower level then the teacher. It forces the students to pay attention to everything the instructor has to teach, mostly because they don’t have the authority of the teacher and they must respect him or her. The “Banking” method forces authority into the teacher’s hands and nobody else’s. Therefore, the students must give the teacher their full respect. 

This is different in a problem-posing classroom setup. It isn’t that the two groups—the teacher and the students—don’t respect each other. Is that the authority, although still fully in the teacher’s hands, is applied to the learning process in a different way. The teacher is there to guide the students to think of things in a different light, like thinking of a writing in a different sense. But, unlike the former method of teaching, the problem-posing form includes the teacher in the learning circle. The instructor, just like any of the students, is there to learn. But he or she must learn from the students, while the students learn from their own thought processes, which are guided by the teacher. It’s a cyclical cycle that allows learning to flow smoothly and efficiently.

But, like I said before, I like philosophy, and I must therefore ask this question: can the perfect, cyclical problem-posing method be correctly applied by any teacher for any more than an hour? Any more, even, then ten minutes? This would mean that the teacher would just be there to prod the students forward on a subject, and that subject would lead to more subjects, and it would continue to branch in an endless manner. But is this really what teaching is about? What this really would create is a long, extended discussion about one thing that either flows or shifts roughly to another subject until the teacher and the students can no longer learn. This would also mean that the teacher, because of the problem-posing format, would be equal to a student, and therefore shouldn’t have access to teacher notes. This would force us all, teacher and student alike, to create a long discussion regarding the reading, without the help of the prodding. It could possibly be done, but it would take a lot of thinking.

So, in Freire’s writing, his agency isn’t really any more then a teacher attempting to prod students to think like a teacher. Then the education system becomes about seeing things like the teacher sees them, which is exactly what the “oppressors” try to do. The role of teachers shouldn’t be to force students to think like them; it should be more about getting the students to think on their own, to form their own thoughts about things, to question the reality about this very world, and to prove why existence itself involves education at all. 

The common roles I’ve experienced are more of the former, than the latter. I’ve only ever received two F’s on any English assignments. Ever in the history of my total 12 years of education. Ever. I can honestly say I was crushed both times. Writing is just as much an art form as music, yet I was wrong in my writings because I didn’t follow the rules (art doesn’t have rules, in case you weren’t aware of that). I was being oppressed, suppressed, and stressed. Both these examples were forms of oppression to create liberation, however. And that, I believe, is what the “Banking” concept is about.

Because humans were designed to be social creatures, we need the prodding of others to help get our minds on the right track. And so, the best problem-posing form of education involves enough oppression to create rebellion and creativeness. Whether or not this can be done perfectly, I know not. But I do know that it takes the utmost respect by both groups of the learning environment to create the successful, proposed problem-posing situation Freire suggested. Looking back through the essay and discussing it with the class has shown me just how incredibly complex this process is. I hope we, as a class, can get this process down to the t!

One Comment

  1. Padawan Tyler, StarWars, AWESOME lol

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