Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1997)

As a child in elementary school I recall my teachers encouraging me to learn new knowledge each day. Educational institutions in my life have always been where the educator learned knowledge from other educators, delivered the knowledge to the students and thus the student is then filled with that same knowledge which they can deliver to the children in their classrooms (Freire, 1997). This cycle of passing on knowledge is best described by the banking knowledge concept. The analogy used for banking knowledge identifies students as containers that the educators can “fill”. According to Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1997) the more the educator fills the receptacles completely, identifies the level of quality for the educator. This concept is similar to an investment made by the educators where they deposit time and effort into the life of a child in order to increase children’s value in higher development. This also relates to the concept of higher education resulting in an increase in your value as a professional (Freire, 1997).

Higher education is the result of investing in yourself as you would do at a bank with money. The deposit is your time and effort during the process of receiving higher education (Freire, 1997). The withdrawal of the investment is when the knowledge and skills provides you with a job you are qualified for and you are eventually paid for the work that you complete (Freire, 1997). This banking theory procedure is the cycle which is how the educational system has been supporting the workforce industry.

The characteristics of banking educational knowledge can fulfill the practice of freedom through the dialogue of student-teacher and teacher-student rather than having the contradiction of teacher-of-the-student (Freire, 1997). Based on Freire’s Pedagogy of the oppressed (1997) the teacher is no longer the only one who teaches, but who is taught through the dialogue with the students. Through the process of dialogue with students, the teacher is learning while also teaching the students. This process becomes a growing joint partnership between student-teacher where there is no longer any arguments on the authoritarian methods of teaching style (Freire, 1997).  The dialogue process eliminates the authority, thus no one is teaching another and there is no side of the partnership which is in need of freedom. Here both student-teachers teach each other and both sides are “free” to teach each other the knowledge they contain. The practice of freedom I believe is the essence of dialogue in educational practices.

For instance, as an educator I provide content of knowledge in a narrative method, the students according to the banking concept will not be called upon to know, but to memorize the contents narrated by the teacher (Freire, 1997).  The students during this time do not upon their cognitive abilities and are limited to accepting the knowledge as a property of the teacher, rather limiting the critical reflection of both teacher and student (Freire, 1997). This relates to the concept of preservation of culture and knowledge where the system we have neither has true knowledge or true culture (Freire, 1997).

This applies to what I do as an educator in my professional practice as a practitioner working with young children each day. My reflective practice requires me to understand and acknowledge my belief and values regarding the concepts of banking knowledge. The strategy of using dialogue with children in professional practice of education may provide children the opportunity to be partners rather than being students accepting knowledge as a bank account. The dialogue with educator-child will allow the freedom to learn new concepts and provide space for personal cognitive learning for both educator and child as a team. As an educational leader with young children my belief on the development of young children also supports the concepts of dialogue with children. Theoretical perspective of listening to young children identifies the active process of receiving (hearing and observing), interpreting and responding to communication (Road, 2004). This theory supports the concept of using dialogue for the partnership with teacher-student when working with young children in educational institutions. Overall, as an early childhood practitioner I have reflected on the knowledge and understanding of this reading and have interpreted the information with regards to the concept of banking knowledge and using dialogue with children as a strategy towards building relationships for new learning.


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