PAULO FREIRE: The Banking Concept of Education

The “Banking” Concept of Education by Paulo Freire discussed about teacher-student relationship. Where the teachers served as he mentioned, “oppressors” or “filler” and students as the “oppressed” ones. This concept of teaching forced students to sit passively and just swallow everything that the teachers threw. He discussed that this kind of education killed the creativity and curiosity of students. I noted that a couple times he mentioned this concept is “necrophilic”, he emphasized that students are “dehumanized” or “mechanized” (page #)by this way of learning. Students are not expected to voice his ideas neither question the teachers. To support his opinion, Freire adapted Marxist terms of “praxis” and “alienation”, in which he said that students should have able to get class material in a practical way and that students should not be alienated or isolated from knowledge. Consequently, to balance his critic, Freire suggested a “problem-posing” education. In this practice, students are expected to be voice their opinion and to be critical, instead of just accepting teachers’ words.


While this essay makes me open my perspective more, I find that this essay has several downside. Freire uses many difficult vocabulary especially for a student. Therefore, students not only would need to hold dictionary when reading his passage, students might likely get lost in understanding what he is trying to say. Second, I found that this essay is a little biased. While I agree with most of what Freire mentioned, he did not discuss about the positive and negative aspect of his principle. He missed the probability why the “banking” concept is even adapted. Just like in a class discussion, education is similar to an industry, where if a school needs to mass produced, there would be so many students in one class versus one teacher, which is very hard for the teacher to discuss ideas with students.


Agreed to most of what Freire discussed, I have been going through both the “banking” concept of education as well as “problem-posing” education when I was in Indonesia. I went to a Catholic junior high school with 48 students in one class, which obviously practiced the “banking” concept of education. Also, I went to an International high school with only 20 students in one class, which applied the “problem-posing” concept. Just like what Freire said, I had no spirit of going to school because all I did is just sit down since 7 am to 2 pm. Teachers did not give students the freedom of speech. They even hardly gave us chance to ask, and a lot of times when they did, they either threw the questions to other students, or said they would do research to answer it. I remembered I was always scared to voice my disagreement or even to raise my hands in class. Teachers literally applied two rules in classes, that is

  1. Teachers are always right
  2. If teacher is wrong, look back at no 1.


In this “banking” kind of classes, there were many new vocabularies, concepts, new knowledge were given to us, yet we did not understand what is it about, what is it for, or how to apply this knowledge. Indeed, I think this method of learning is the easiest ones for students to get good grades, since students basically just need to memorize all the materials given. However, since students do not understand the fundamental principle of the material, this teaching tend to cause more possibility for students to cheat. Cheating is easy to be done because the exams would be based on students’ notes. Also, as I went to an “problem posing” school, I regret going to my junior high school because I hardly remember anything I learned. The fact that I had to memorize every single concept regardless of their connectivity makes me had to research through the whole book to find out the one part that I forgot.

On the other hand, I admit that I have a good time going to a “problem-posing” method of classes. While I felt bored to have few classmates, I was very happy with the learning system. Instead of teachers explained the class material, they only mentioned the new keywords, then they threw guiding questions to let students discover the material themselves. Although we had fewer book chapters discussed than in the “banking” concept of education, but the lessons students learned can be easily applied to students’ daily life. Unlike in the “banking” education system, students need to pay full attention in the whole class hour because teachers might throw question to them. This interactive teaching is not only fun, but it really did embed knowledge to students. My classmates and I learned to be critical, to be brave to speak in classroom, and also to appreciate opposing views. Thus, just like Freire discussed in his essay, I agree that schools better apply a problem-posing concept of education, or at least give students more freedom of speech.


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