Throughout my writing and literature education, my classes were filled with what Freire would describe as “banking” education and less of “problem-posing” education. This is surprising because writing and literature are creative and typically open-ended. Freire believed that “banking” education “attempts to control thinking and action… and inhibits [the students’] creativity.” Looking back at high school and middle school, this was the case for me and has affected my ability to write well.
Throughout my years of education, I always had reading assignments. That’s a normal part of schooling. We would read whatever chapters, then the teachers would explain to us the significance of the books. There wasn’t really a whole lot of discussion as to what we as students thought what point the author was trying to get across, especially when we were younger. Yes, the amount of discussion we got to have, the amount of insight from us students did increase as we got older, but it was never a “problem-posing” class. Students were expected to learn what the teacher thought was the point of the author, and we were tested on it either through quizzes or analysis essays.
Not only that, but our writing also were somewhat “banking.” We would memorize structures of how an essay was supposed to look like. The teachers would go on with the mantra of “hook, thesis statement, outline the main points and many others, which resulted in essays that seemed robotic and unoriginal. We learned how to spit out essays in less than 50 minutes.
This learning style was not helpful when I began taking AP classes for language and literature. Although the learning style did become more “problem-posing,” where we did activities like Socrates Seminar. This involved students asking questions to one another about how we felt about the text and discussed the author’s points while the teacher facilitated the discussions. We were learning together, but for some students like me, who were used to the more “banking” type of education where the teachers explained to us what things meant, we sat there like sponges, trying to soak up what others were saying so that we didn’t have to think for ourselves. It was too difficult to do that.
The one thing I despised, and what made the AP class so difficult was that we tried to cram and memorize as many points as possible about the books we’ve read or even half-read for our big AP exams. This was a big part of our class and was definitely “banking.”