See below for my word vomit.
I was introduced to Paulo Freire this week. Interesting dude. Freire is who we have to thank for the concept of critical pedagogy where basically students are finally seen as something other than trash cans for rote knowledge.
As I was reading through the course materials, one quote kept popping up that just felt like a lightning rod to my academic soul.
“Intellectuals who memorize everything, reading for hours on end . . .fearful of taking a risk, speaking as if they were reciting from memory, fail to make any concrete connections between what they have read and what is happening in the world, the country, or the local community. They repeat what has been read with precision but rarely teach anything of personal value.”
This quote about sums up a large bit of my undergraduate and graduate experience. I wish this were not the case, but it feels that way. This is also the very thing I am trying to combat now as I am shaping myself up to become a teacher. Man, is it challenging. After so many years of being in the back seat of the car (not even the passenger seat), it takes a lot of energy and willpower to muster up the courage to teach applying a critical pedagogical style. I fortunately function in an academic-verse where critical pedagogy is a bit more tangible then perhaps the “real sciences” might be.
In Freire’s work, he discusses how teachers have often applied the “banking approach” wherein teachers dictate knowledge as fact and students accept it as verse. I can safely say that has been my experience for a number of classes, but I also ashamedly admit that sometimes I just wanted to accept the deposit as a student and move on with my daily life. I try not to be that way, but sometimes it is an unchangeable feeling. I also grew up in a world where my teacher was my authoritarian figure, but then as I aged I knew it had to be challenge and changed. I can see why Freire is considered an empowering force for teachers and students alike. His pedagogy opens doors not previously accessible to everyone, especially marginalized populations. That is all rather exciting, and, I feel, in spirit with what education is meant to be: freeing.
It sounds like Freire is trying to change the world’s mind that instead of programming our tiny human robots, that we should be fighting this. Freeing this mind. I can only think of a handful of my teachers that even attempted this approach with us students. I think most are generally going through the motions either because they have taught the class 900 times before, or it is a material they do not feel can be taught in any other way but in a banking approach, or that they think the students are just there to be told information and move on.
I must admit that I am not fully sure how I can properly incorporate this pedagogical style into my classes, and I would welcome some guidance on that. Given my area of expertise is tourism and events, I think I am meant for this pedagogical style.