On Reading Freire's "The Banking Concept of Education"


Freire's essay compares two types of education, which he calls "banking" and "problem posing".  They are most explicitly contrasted on pp. 61-62 in a list, a-j.


But paying attention only to that list can lead to an over-simplification of Freire's argument.  The two types of education are important because of what they imply about the context, purpose, and effects of education, not just because of what happens in the classroom (which is what the list focuses on).  Many students interpret banking education to be synonymous with classrooms where there are lecture, where students are expected to memorize and regurgitate, where facts are taught.  They often say math, sciences, and languages must be banked, or that elementary school must be banking.  They see problem-posing classrooms as ones where students have discussion, sharing their opinions, being creative.


This way of talking of the two forms over-simplifies Freire's argument.  Contrasting the elements listed below should help understand Freire's argument better.


I.  Make a chart contrasting the banking and problem-posing definitions of these terms.  Indicate on which pages each is discussed (they tend to be treated more than once):


Students, teachers, their relationship

Goals of education

Reality/the world

Human relationship with the world

Consciousness or thought


II.  To understand the large conceptual context of Freire, explain what Freire means by being "truly human" or "fully human," "humanization," the human vocation, the ontological vocation.  See pp. 61, 63, 67, 71, 73.


III.  A final question on Freire:  To what extent to his ideas have any relevance to your education -- you who are not illiterate adults, who are not socially, politically, and economically oppressed.



For what it's worth, and in case it helps, here's my summary of Freire's argument:


Paulo Freire compares two concepts of education, banking and problem-posing.  In banking teachers assume students are passive, take all control, determine what will be learned, and "force-feed" information to students.  The world is seen as static; students are encouraged to "fit in to" the world as it is.  Banking encourages students to accept the world as it is, separates the learner and the learner's consciousness from the world, and so contributes to oppression.  In problem-posing, students and teachers carry on a dialogue to teach one another.  The world is seen as always in the process of becoming; students are seen as parts of that.  Students are therefore active, becoming empowered to criticize the world and so change it.  Problem-posing thereby results in the liberation of the students and in the revolution against oppressive social and economic systems.  Problem-posing education allows people to develop their human natures fully because it depends on dialogue (communication), recognizes the relationship between people and the world, encourages inquiry, and leads to transformation.