Paulo Freire (1921-1997) has been touted as one of the more influential educators of the 20th century. He is better known for his views on adult education as well as his various literary works on the current education system. His works are filled with radical nuances. In his most popular work-The pedagogy of the oppressed, he introduces what he calls the ‘banking concept of education’. Here teachers are portrayed as depositors who fill in some empty accounts (students) with information that is meant to be stored in their memory. The essay is one of the most cited especially in South America, Asia, Africa and elsewhere in the world. This article examines a section of this essay with an aim of discovering his overall way of thinking.
Freire’s Banking Concept criticizes the current style of education as it is conversational in nature and urges that it is oppressive and dehumanising [Freire Paulo 15]. The teacher is also viewed as a collaborator with the oppressors who promote and works for the manipulative system. His arguments are complex and difficult to follow for a layman. He depicts students as the oppressed who have no say in what is taught to them. They play no role in development of curriculum; they are fed on information that they are meant to store and not question. In his criticism of the current style of teaching Freire’s came short of making insinuations that have political overtones. He proposes a problem posing a type of education system where students get to participate in education as equal partners and not just as ignorant and mild receptacles. He engages his audience in a thought provoking argument that the current system denies the learner an opportunity to interact with reality. He asserts that this system detaches learning with the world in which they live. It suppresses innovation and this in turn disempowers them from taking charge of their lives. This is because the oppressed are depicted as outsiders in the society. However, this society becomes oppressed because of consisting of many of the brainwashed marginal [Freire, Paulo23].
Freire banking concept of education gives credence to an aforementioned radical inclinations, the essay portrays his deep belief in an informal style of teaching which would give an opportunity for the student to participate as an equal where they are free to ask any questions as well as answer back as they continue to learn. Freire overall point of view discredits the system that establishes this oppressive education and sees the society as being brainwashed by the political elite who benefit from the consequent confusion. He has time and again voiced his disapproval of the state of affairs claiming that a small portion of political elite has caused an unknown harm in the education system and teachers have also unconsciously became collaborators.
Freire’s essay gives away his innermost thoughts. The society is being corrupted by the education system that has been designed by some oppressors with the aim of denying the society the ability for independent thought. This is what he equates with oppression and dehumanisation. It is these views that earned him many admirers as well as enemies especially in the sixties and seventies.
Freire, Paulo. Education, the practice of freedom. London: Writers and Readers Publishing Cooperative, 1976.
Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy in process : the letters to Guinea-Bissau A Continuum book. New York: Seabury Press, 1978.