Tuesday, April 3, 2012

reflection 3: Examine Paulo Freire idea of banking vs. problem posing education

In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire discusses various ideas surrounding the topics of education and politics. This reflection will speak about his support of critical problem posing education as opposed to what he called the banking method. Freire describes the banking method as a teaching technique where the teacher imparts information to the student exactly as they want the student to learn it without variation or room for questioning. The problem posing method on the other hand is a way of both teacher and student looking at the material and critically questioning it. In this method both the student and the teacher learn from the material and bring their different points of view to add to enlightened thinking.

Freire asserts that the banking system is a tool best used by those trying to oppress others, which is in direct contradiction to the enlightenment that teachers should be doing with willing pupils. Students of the banking system are frequently overloaded with preprocessed information that they must regurgitate perfectly at exams. He argues that this frequently leads to scenarios of students feeling alienated from their studies since they never really interact with it. Freire even goes so far as to say that “One cannot expect positive results from an educational or political action program which fails to respect the particular view of the world held by the people. Such a program constitutes cultural invasion, good intentions notwithstanding.”- (Freire, 1970, p.95). Here we not only see him dismiss the banking method as ineffective but hegoes so far as to label it a threat to the culture of the students who must adapt to it or sufferthe consequences (fail, punishment etc.).

A real world example of his educational ideals can be seen in Montessori schools over the world. These schools do away with the regular teaching model and offer a freer and hands-on look at education. Dr. Maria Montessori, the founder of Montessori schools, centered education around the children who would be doing the learning rather than the dominant system where society imposed what they wanted onto children regardless of interest. Instead of school being a necessary evil, children were encouraged to seek information on their own to spark an interest in learning. She also focused on the rights, wishes and pace of the children at her school. Another interesting change from the dominant model shows children of about a 3 year age range learning together rather than being placed in classes with only children of the same age.

Everything in the classrooms are at a height children can reach which is suppose to spark their interest and question the items before a teacher instructs them to. They pose their own questions about the environment around them and really seek to learn more. This school also places a special emphasis on going outside and exploring the world as well. Yes these schools do have curriculum to follow but they are fulfilled in a very unique way. Because they are going at the children's pace and are more about sparking the interest so children will really be engaged they do not follow the regular school model. Parents generally sign their children up for 3 years at a time. It is at the end of this time that they will certainly learn everything they are supposed to but removing children from the school before and placing them in regular schools may leave them in the lurch. The children may be ahead of their classmates in some areas but behind in others.

Various studies, including the 2006 study called “Evaluating Montessori Education” completed by Angeline Lillard and Nicole Else-Quest, state that Montessori schools lead to more well-rounded children who not only do better in standardized tests but feel more involved in their community as well. This study in particular randomized the children who went to a Montessori school and a control group that went to a traditional school.

This study is in favor of Montessori schools but applying this kind of education to the general public may be challenging. These schools generally have smaller class sizes with more individual attention from teachers. Many low and medium income families may also face difficulty paying for this kind of schooling, especially if they have multiple children. This mode of schooling may also not be what works best for shy children who prefer more structure in their education. In conclusion this could be a positive model of schooling but more studies need to be done on the different personalities of the children who attend, how the special open classrooms can be implemented across the country and affordability of it to the masses.

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