Response to Freire’s “The ‘Banking’ Concept of Education”

Arms crossed, seated upon a barstool, podium cast to the side, blankly staring at our midsized classroom. Yes – this is how I spent every other day of my advanced placement language and composition class. My teacher, (whom we will refer to as “Mrs. Scabs” just in case any previous peers of mine stumble upon this blog) was an odd woman. I can honestly say I didn’t learn a single thing in her class that entire year – at least nothing of importance that I can recall. Mrs. Scabs is the epitome of Paulo Freire’s ‘Banking’ concept. She simply handed us novel after novel with the expectation that we would read, we would learn, we would write, and move on. Alright, I admit it, I did learn how to write a well-rounded in-class essay within 40 minutes, but still. Anything of substance was thrown out the window. There isn’t a thought within my head that remembers any stimulating class discussions. Please; take a moment to sympathize with me… We endured some of the densest novels known to man. Well known pieces of literature such as “Ethan Frome”, “The Scarlet Letter”, “The Jungle”, and so much more. I can promise you right now – these novels are beautiful. By any means, I don’t mean to disrespect the authors. They are packed with interesting diction, syntax, symbolism and imagery. I am simply trying to make clear how awful it is read such well written literature and be stuck with a teacher who never took the time to expand and initiate discussions. There are so many things that could have been discussed and debated. They really are interesting – just not as interesting as they could have been. This was the first class I had ever been placed in that made me want to hurl. Her essay prompts were nearly impossible to comprehend; detail after detail concerning hidden meanings and imagery was difficult to portray within a 40 minute time span. It still amazes me that I passed – hardly of course.

After hearing about the ‘banking’ concept, and finally being able to officially learn about it, I feel so relieved. It’s like this weight has been lifted off my shoulders and can finally proclaim: YES! Someone does understand! Teachers need to realize that just because they’re lazy and might be able to learn from nothing but personal work, that not everyone works that way. Sure – we may be young, but we can raise some pretty controversial topics that make great for conversation.  Of course, Freire writes in such a way that he is incredibly persuasive without me even realizing it at first. He certainly makes the thought of a “problem-posing” type of world sound appealing; airtight plan!

I really enjoyed the way Freire presented the topic of problem-posing.  He had a lot of great one-liners and phrases that summed up the way I felt exactly. For example, on page 263, he states “Problem-posing… strives for the emergence of consciousness and critical intervention in reality”. To me, this is most brilliantly stated! I love the emphasis he put on ‘critical intervention’ for a couple of reasons. First, today’s times are all about critical situations. Everything we do is dependent upon something/someone else. The competition we face in every aspect of our lives calls for critical decisions in order for us to rise above and prove that we’re something more than the typical man or woman. I am impressed with the way he puts the emphasis on how critical things are nowadays. Second, the way he words that, critical intervention, implies that we are in need of something that has never been done before. It is time to step it up and change the way things are! Things are clearly not working; there are flaws around every corner. Teachers are awarding points to kids who don’t deserve, simply because they want to get them out of their classroom and onto the next teacher who can ‘deal with them’. However, if teachers would realize the reason these kids aren’t passing their class is because THEY are the ones who aren’t properly conducting their classroom, we wouldn’t have such a problem on our hands. I agree with a lot of what Freire said because I am one who is partial to class discussions and hands-on activities. But like any genius plan, it always looks great on paper first.

What Stood Out

On page four of “Introduction: Ways of Reading”, the second statement I had placed a star next to was a passage about becoming “creatures of these essays”. These essays, as the author states, “dominate our seeing, talking, reading, and writing… This captivity is something we welcome, yet it is also something we resist”. I love the part about welcoming and resisting because that’s what education is like for me. Sometimes we become so comfortable with our reading and writing styles it can be very difficult to do otherwise when an instructor asks us to. For myself, I enjoy learning. It’s when I’m asked to think deep or read profound essays when I’m scared and start to “resist”. I’m only nineteen! How can I be profound, wise, deep… I feel as if my lack of real-world experience is holding me back to a point where I resist the new tasks given to me.

A phrase that I had  related to, also on page four, went as “The essays have changed the ways people think and write”. In the margin I had noted, “It’s amazing to think someone’s writing can have such personal effects on other people – and on such large scales”. To some, reading and writing are simply class assignments that must be drug out and on; essentially viewed as a waste of time. I, on the other hand, have always found it interesting. Of course, at times, not my favorite thing to do… but, still interesting. I love seeing an authors choice of diction – the way some choose to keep it straight and to the point, while others enjoy showing off their extensive vocabulary. I enjoy all the metaphors and similes. I think words can be so beautiful and powerful – often inspiring. So to think that an author, well-known or not, can have the ability to change the way people choose to think and write is in it’s own way, very incredible. To have that type of control over someone is powerful. After reading “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, I realized not only how well someone can write, but also all the details that can be portrayed. In a way, her short story was quite disturbing. Gilman was able to take something so irrelevant to life (the wallpaper) and display to an audience how a wealthy, aristocratic woman can go clinically insane. She’s been given everything – a beautiful estate, a blessed life… Yet chooses to let her boredom get the best of her and literally let’s the pattern of the wallpaper control her. I’m not quite sure why this amazed me. To a lot, this short story is long and boring. I still find it disturbing – living such a secret life, hiding things from her husband, closing herself off from society… All because of yellow wallpaper. It scared me, but impressed me. I was utterly intrigued. I just can’t get over the fact that someone is able to take something as trivial as wallpaper and write with such an ability to the point it can dictate and control someone’s life. It gives me hope that the art of literature can still be held up. Even though a lot of styles and changes have come about since Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote her short story, it just further impresses upon me that everything being told to us in “Introduction: Ways of Reading” are tools that can really be used in todays writing style, but can still be found in literature of the past.

It’s still a little weird to me how I can be reading a college textbook  and be able to relate it to life right now. Especially since I can relate it back to things I read my junior year of high school. But, as I said before, I’m interested to see how this textbook plays out and how it continues to apply to me. I’m excited to see with essays I become “a creature” to.