link: banking education  

                   TRADITIONAL EDUCATION as education for domination: STUDENT/TEACHER 

                                   CONTRADICTION  AND 'BANKING EDUCATION'

theme: Traditional education or 'banking education' is based on the assumption that the possession of knowledge  brings with it the power to control the future.  

 "Banking education mythisizes reality and therefore fosters irrational thinking which creates further mythisizing." (Paulo Freire. Pedagogy of the Oppressed Herder and Herder, 1971 (original Portuguese manuscript 1968, translated by Myra Bergman Ramos) (15)


politics of banking education...    banking education and learning theory...   control of imagination...

student evaluation...   mechanistic view of consciousness...

implications for education...


 Politics of banking education: 'student-teacher contradiction' The term 'banking education' was coined by Paulo Freire to refer to educational pedagogy which is likened to the process of banking. The passive student becomes a depository for storing bits of knowledge which might be withdrawn and used later in life. The 'banking concept' of education is based on the perception of knowledge as an unchanging finite entity which like a gift can be bestowed to those don't have it by those who do. The politics of banking education is justified on the basis of the assumption that the student's ignorance is absolute. The teacher is considered to be a 'monopolist' of knowledge and their function is to concentrate on artificial and arbitrary scholarship. The function of the teacher is measured by the difference in knowledge level compared with the student.The teaching role is defined in terms of the transferrence of knowledge from the knowlegeable 'teacher' to the ignorant 'student'. (Immature) teachers confuse their authority of knowledge with professional authority. They set their authority in opposition to their students and present themselves as the necessary opposite in the so-called 'student-teacher contradiction'.  

Implicit in the student-teacher contradiction is the assumption that there is a dichotomy between the students and their world... the 'social reality'. In the learning situation, students are 'objects' and the teacher is the 'subject' which engages in the destructive pedagogy of transferring information as if it should be placed in a depository or 'bank' to be stored and then withdrawn and used later. Teachers teach and students are taught; teachers know everything and students know nothing; students accept their ignorance as justifying the teacher's existence... they never discover that it is in fact they who educate the teacher. Teachers think and students are thought about; teachers talk and students listen; teachers discipline and students are disciplined; teachers choose and enforce their choices and students comply; teachers choose program content and students adapt without consultation; teachers act and students act through the teacher; students are spectators and not creators. As a result teachers become afraid of communicating  with the students and the student/teacher contradiction is maintanied.

If the contradiction is formalized in the school institution then it is a reflection of the oppressor-oppressed contradiction of the mythical reality... the 'social realty'.  

"The opposite of education, manipulation is based on the absence of faith in the growth of potentialities and on the conviction that the child will be right only if the adults put into him what is desirable and cut off what seems to be undesirable. There is no need of faith in the robot since there is no life in it either." (Carl Rogers. Freeedom To Learn)

Banking education and learning theory...learning is considered to be passive 'behavioural paradigm'  ...The learning process is understood in terms of tranferrals of information from the teacher to the student...  Students of banking education are expected to accept a passive role. The student of banking education is taught to accept a passive role and not to challenge or question. In this way banking education attempts to control thinking and to transform the student into an individual who will adjust to the reality intended by the oppressor.

In order to possess the knowledge which the teacher transfers to them, they are expected to memorize or learn by 'rote'.

 Banking education is the practice of domination and mirrors the oppressiveness of the dominant society. The ideological intent or aim is to stimulate credulity and to indoctrinate the student to adapt to the world of oppression. This is the 'hidden curriculum' not often perceived by educators.

Banking education is an instrument of social control... controls by manipulating the content of the imagination. This explains the almost instinctive reaction against educational 'experiments' which would stimulate the student's critical faculties and encourage a critical consideration of reality. The banking approach to education teaches the individual to accept without questioning. The student of banking education is not permitted to ask 'why?'

    The propaganda of banking education anesthetizes and inhibits the individual's creativity and the creative power of inner freedom. With the annullment of their creative power, individuals are prevented from thinking and it is this which serves the interests of oppression

Control of the imagination occurs through the inhibition of creative and critical thinking.  The oppressor attempts to justify the conditions of human existence by mythologizing the social reality through the creation of 'social myth'. The creation of social myth is intended to conceal certain facts and present a fragmented view of the social reality. Adaptation to the fragmented view fosters irrational thinking. With fragmented perception, individuals perceive their own situation as unalterable. They become resigned to a fatalistic outlook which is reinforced with further mythologizing resulting in the individual's social rank as the 'oppressed.'

 "Education, by serving the ruling interests in a class society, and by doing this in a disguised way, actually gives people a distorted view of the world, and offers a misrepresentation of reality. Through its process, its content and its political power in bestowing social rewards, it presents a conceptual scheme and methodologies- ways of perceiving the world - that largely ensure that people will take their place in the existing world as well-fitting members of the status quo, without questioning the status quo or perceiving the real relations on which it is built ...Education promotes a distorted and illusory view of reality in the name of enquiring into truth. And since it does this in a deliberate and systematic way, its offerings and products can properly be characterised as a structured misrepresentation of reality." ( Kevin Harris. Education and Knowledge: The Structured Misrepresentation of Reality. London, Boston and Henley: Routledge & Kegan Paul. 1979 chapter 5, On Education 164)

Evaluation Students of banking education are evaluated on the basis of their ability to learn passively. Their passively acquired knowledge is measured in terms of a reward and punishment system of grading or 'grades'. Good grades are given to students who do not refuse to be treated as objects. The 'good student' is the one who repeats and is not restless or intractable, the one who accepts without questioning and does not reveal their doubts, the one who is unable to think critically and does not want to know the reason behind the facts, the one who does not want to break with pre-established models, the one who does not denounce the mediocrity of bureaucracies and adjusts to the status quo. .

Mechanistic view of consciousness  Teaching methods of banking education are based on a mechanistic and static view of consciousness a view which serves the interests of oppression. The so-called 'educated' student of banking education is the individual who adapts without questioning  the social reality created by the dominant classes. The prevention of thinking is based on a mechanistic and static view of consciousness. In the mechanistic view, consciousness is isolated from the world of 'reality'. With methods of banking education, attempts are made to keep the consciousness submerged. Individuals are denied the right to raise their consciousness in the naturally ontological process of becoming fully human i.e. 'self-actualisation'. The result is disempowerment of the student and 'social injustice'.

"The lecture-based passive curriculum is not simply poor pedagogical practice. It is the teaching model most compatible with promoting the dominant authority in society and with disempowering students." (Freire Politics of Education p.10)

Implications for education The teaching model of banking education is based on student/teacher contradiction and the lecture-based curriculum. This model is compatible with the aim of promoting the oppressive cultural forces of the dominant authority in society and with the disempowerment of students. However, in view of the current explosion of knowledge and its continuous challenge to the validity of orthodox opinion, the assumption upon which it is based - that the possession of knowledge brings with it the power to control the future - is no longer valid.

     The notion that a teacher is there to impart facts and demonstrate skills implies a set of social and cultural objectives which are inappropriate for the post-modern age. Consequently the banking concept of so-called 'traditional' education is seriously questioned today. There is a paradigm shift away from the teacher/student contradiction and towards its resolution in the democritization of education. It is only through communiction and dialogue that human life and human education can have meaning through authentic communication or 'dialogue'. 

'holistic education'. 

'Holistic perception' of reality required for congruence of thought and action necessary for survival in a changing environment. To have a rational and critical perception of one's reality means that one can perceive the various parts as constituent elements of a whole. Wholistic perception of reality means having a total vision of the context of the constituent fragments and thereby gaining a clearer perception of the reality in its totality.

 "Problem-posing education de-mythisizes reality, transforming reality by unveiling its 'true' nature and thereby fostering rational thinking". (Paulo Freire)

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Pedagogy of Oppressed


"Education in cultural action for domination is reduced to a situation in which the educator as 'the one who knows' transfers existing knowledge to the learner as 'the one who does not know.' (Paulo Freire The Politics of Education South Hadley, MA: Bergin and Garvey Publishers, Inc. 1985 p. 114)

 "In the 'banking' concept of education, knowledge is a gift bestowed by those who consider themselves knowledgeable upon those whom they consider to know nothing." (Pedagogy of Oppressed 58)

Banking education as education for domination:

"Banking education is education as the practice of domination." (Paulo Freire. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. p. 69) The 'banking' concept of education mirrors the oppressiveness of society as a whole. (59)

Student-teacher contradiction...  Students accept a passive role - they are the 'oppressed.' Their creative power is annulled." Serving the interest of oppression, the banking concept of education is based on a mechanistic and static view of consciousness. In attempting to control thinking and action, it inhibits creative thinking and transforms the student into a receiving object who is capable of adjusting to the reality created by the oppressors. Banking education "mythologizes reality." It "attempts to conceal certain facts which explain the way men exist in the world."(71)

 The practices of 'banking' education: ..."the teacher teaches and the students are taught; the teacher knows everything and the students know nothing; the teacher thinks and the students are thought about; the teacher talks and the students meekly listen; the teacher disciplines and the students are desciplined; the teacher chooses and enforces his choice and the students comply; the teacher acts and the students have the illusion of acting through the teacher,; the teacher chooses the program content, and without being consulted, the students adapt to it; the teacher confuses the authority of knowledge with his own professional authority, which he sets in opposition to the freedom of his students; the teacher is the Subject of the learning process and the students are the objects." (59)

 With banking education, the students accept the passive role imposed on them and adapt to the fragmented view of reality which is presented to them. (60)

 Banking education "anesthetizes and inhibits creative power." It "attempts to maintain the submersion of consciousness." (68)

 "Implicit in the banking concept of education is the assumption of a dichotomy between man and the world.  man is merely in the world, not with the world or with others; man is spectator, not re-creator." (62) The 'educated man' is the adapted man, (63) adapted to the world created by the oppressors; adapted without questioning it.

The teacher of banking education fears communication with the student. And yet it is only through communiction that human life can have meaning (63)

 The banking approach to education teaches the individual to accept without questioning. It prevents the individual from thinking. In the interests of the oppressors, banking education is the exercise of domination which stimulates the credulity of students.

OFTEN NOT PERCEIVED BY EDUCATORS, THE IDEOLOGICAL INTENT IS TO INDOCTRINATE THE STUDENTS TO ADAPT TO THE WORLD OF OPPRESSION (65) This explains the almost instinctive reaction against educational 'experiments' which would stimulate the student's critical faculties and encourage a critical consideration of reality. By mythologizing, the banking method of education reinforces the individual's fatalistic perception of reality. He becomes resigned to his situation and perceives it as unalterable. c. Authoritarianism and licence versus freedom and authority theme: freedom and authority conflict in situations of either licence or authoritarianism. d. Education for domination: student-teacher 'contradiction' "Education in cultural action for domination is reduced to a situation in which the educator as "the one who knows" transfers existing knowledge to the learner as "the one who does not know." (Paulo Freire The Politics of Education South Hadley, MA: Bergin and Garvey Publishers, Inc. 1985 114)

Generally speaking, the good student is not one who is restless or intractable, or one who reveals one's doubts or wants to know the reason behind facts, or one who breaks with preestablished models, or one who denounces a mediocre bureaucracy, or one who refuses to be an object. To the contrary, the so-called good student is one who repeats, who renounces critical thinking, who adjusts to models, and who 'thinks it pretty to be a rhinoceros'" (Ionesco Rhinoceros) (117)