EDPS 360 (A2) Fall 2013

Are your receptacles empty?

In Cooperative Blog Posts on October 21, 2013 at 8:13 pm

Paulo Freire is known worldwide as a driving force and major supporter of the critical pedagogy movement. The main message from Freire’s body of work is that of creating a society more just and equitable for all members.

Freire summarizes the education system to be a banking system in that students come into the classroom as blank slates, and it is the responsibility for teachers to fill students up with knowledge. The teachers (depositors) deposit their knowledge into the students (depositories) who willfully accept everything that is given to them. “[When a teacher ] completely fills the receptacles, the better teacher she is. The more meekly the receptacle permit themselves to be filled the better students they are.” (p 72) . Freire says the narrative, or relationship, between the teacher and the student tends to make the content lifeless in that facts and thoughts are said out, mindlessly memorized, and then repeated without question. “Education is suffering from narration sickness” where the narrating subject is the teacher and the students are patient, listening objects (p.71). Connecting the two chapters Freire seems to be comparing the education system, to the oppressors and the students to the oppressed. The teachers (objects of the education system) are the primary visible oppressors in that they do the thinking and talking, disciplining, acting, choosing the program content and are the subject of education. Whereas the oppressed students are taught, know nothing, are disciplined, comply, adapt to the content, and are the objects of education. Freire calls for a more humanistic approach to the banking method of education, rather than producing “dehumanized”, oppressed students who are the future of our culture and society.

The schools have the ultimate control of the students, and thus citizens in society, therefore education is the oppressor and students the oppressed. For an example think about how the government implemented the Residential Schools to oppress the Aboriginal peoples and assimilate them into the allegedly superior European culture.

In order for the education system to reform and improve, the oppressed, the students, must use their own power to rise up against their oppressors, the education system, but “the oppressed must not become oppressors of their oppressors” (p.44).  In that sense Freire means that to change the education system it will take the students choosing on their own to change the way they learn all in a respectable and respectful way that doesn’t oppress the teachers or the education system.

Extending this further, this is a problem that us, as future teachers, will face and have to work against, so that students are not continually created to be the oppressed population. We will need to ensure that we are not oppressed by the influences around us, such as that of corporations or the government. We must inquire about the information we are given and the world around us through critical thinking so that we are not dehumanized into objects of the oppressors agendas. In turn as teachers we must also give students the opportunities to inquire and not become oppressed objects that are filled with the oppressors beliefs and values. Students should have the opportunity to be able to express themselves, understand they are capable, and should exercise the skill, of creative thought.

As future teachers how do we; 1) go about reconciling the poles of the student-teacher relation contradiction so that both are simultaneously teachers and students?  and 2) ensure that we do not become oppressed in fulfilling our duties as educators when following a strict curriculum with standardized testing?

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  1. I am very passionate about standardized testing, and in regards to the second question, I think it is a struggle for teachers to allow for inquiry based learning when there are certain outcomes that need to be hit before the standardized test rolls around. In my opinion, the subject that is most hurt by this is social studies. I truly think that working with current events are one of the most important parts of S.S, but its seems as though many teachers (especially grade 12 teachers,) omit current events because they don’t think they have enough time. My curriculum prof for my IPT taught us the importance of tying current events to outcomes to save time. As for the other subject areas, I do not really have a suggestion for how to ‘fix’ this issue, but I feel that as long as young teachers are cognizant of this idea, they might come up with creative ways to keep students central in the classroom.

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