“Cha-ching!” goes the cash register as bills and coins are transferred between the two parties. Change is carefully counted out and handed over and is double checked by the receiver. The hum of the printer kicks in and the receipt prints out. The two parties exchange farewells and move on with their lives. The process of depositing money is somewhat of a mundane, mindless task; no critical thinking is involved. Education is heading in the same direction. As unfortunate as it is, students learn through a process that is quite akin to the way one deposits money.
As Paulo Freire said in “The ‘Banking’ Concept of Education”:
Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiques and makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat.
Educational knowledge is just deposits of facts given by a teacher, as stated in the quote above. Mindless facts are pounded into student’s minds as they learn to recite those facts by rote without really learning anything, save for memorization, in the process. These facts, such as how many planets are in the solar system, or how the mitochondria produces ATP and is considered the “powerhouse” of the cell, do not lead to critical thinking and discussion rather they are meant as bits to be learned in the case that the person learning will end up on jeopardy one day. Most of the facts taught in school are not directly applicable to post-secondary life, and if they do not allow for further discussion, we have to ask why we are being taught this way.
Rarely in school is there the opportunity for students to voice his or her opinion on a subject and debate it with others; this is not only a crucial part of learning, but it is also a fun exercise that engages students into certain events/ideas. Things, like the political system of the United States, the country in which I live, is not stressed as important as learning that ‘Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1642’. Discussion is a great way to see both sides of the story or event and it allows the chance for an individual to expand his or her perception and learn from his or her peers.
Bottom line, we as a society need to engage in more critical thinking activities and put an end to the mindless recitation of ‘facts’ that do nothing for the betterment of our educations. Engage in debate, engage in learning.