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Applying Freire to Your Own Experience
The teacher talks about reality as if it were motionless, static, compartmentalized, and predictable. Or else he expounds on a topic completely alien to the existential experience of the students. His task is to “fill” the students with the contents of his narration—contents which are detached from reality, disconnected from the totality that engendered them and could give them significance. Words are emptied of their concreteness and become a hollow, alienated, and alienating verbosity.
Paulo Freire
The “Banking” Concept of Education
Anyone who has made it through twelve years of formal education can think of a class, or an occasion outside of classroom, to serve as a quick example of what Freire calls the “banking” concept of education, where students are turned into “containers” to be “filled” by their teachers. If Freire is to be useful to you, he must do more than call up quick examples. He should allow you to say more than that a teacher once treated you like a container (or that a teacher once gave you’re your freedom).
Write an essay that focuses on a rich and illustrative incident from your own educational experience and read it (that is, interpret it), as Freire would. The educational experience does not need to be in a formal classroom setting since education happens anytime and anywhere, which means that you can discuss an experience at home, in your church, among friends, etc. As long as the experience has taught you something new, it is an educational experience.
You will need to provide careful detail: the specific circumstances under which the experience occurred; things that were said and done; and the impact this experience had on you or other people involved in it.
You will need to turn to the language of Freire’s argument, to take key phrases and passages from his argument and see how they might be used to investigate your case. You need to read your account as not simply the story of you and your “teacher” since Freire is not writing about individual personalities (an innocent student and a mean teacher, a rude teacher, or a thoughtless teacher), but about the roles we are cast in, whether we choose to be or not, by our culture and its institutions. The key question is not who you were or who your “teacher” was, but what roles you played and how those roles can lead you to better understand the larger narrative or drama of education (an organized attempt to “regulate the way the world ‘enters into’ the students”).
Freire would not want you to work passively or mechanically as though you were merely following orders. He would want you to make your own mark on the work he has begun. Use your example, in other words, as a way of testing and examining what Freire says, particularly those passages that you find difficult or obscure.
o You should use textual support to let readers understand where you are coming from. What in Freire’s essay leads you to believe what you are you saying about his ideas and your experience? In other words, you need to include a summary of Freire and use sandwiched quotations—at least five—in your essay.
o Your essay should follow the basic academic essay format although it should definitely go beyond the five-paragraph-essay formula. In the introductory paragraph, you should introduce the topic and make sure you have an effective thesis statement towards the end of the introductory paragraph. Then you should consider incorporating the summary of the second chapter of Pedagogy of the Oppressed in the second or third paragraph of yoru essay, depending on how you want to structure your essay.
o You should start each paragraph with a topic sentence of your own; you should absolutely avoid using a quotation to start a paragraph. The quotations are used to analyse your experience.
o Your essay should be at least five pages long, following the basic MLA essay format and MLA in-text citation style. Your essay should be typed, double-spaced, and in Times New Roman font 12.
o You should absolutely eliminate the following grammatical errors in your essay: run-on/fused sentences; comma splices; fragmented sentences; and incorrect punctuation of however, nevertheless, therefore; incorrect use of semicolons and colons; incorrect use of “so” and “so that.”
o A list of documents and videos can be found under Unit One-Documents and Videos Needed for Unit One Essay.


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