My (Jonathan Ben-Joseph) essay as submitted to class.
The words of Mr. Freire in The Banking Concept of Education is a clear argument against the traditional education of institutions. The Banking Concept of Education contains points that can related to by anyone who has ever been part of the mass education system of today. Instead of just ridiculing the educational system, he also offers an alternative form of pedagogy that he calls the problem posing method, which he feels is superior. The banking concept is the term Freire coined to describe the traditional form of teaching. In the banking concept, the teacher cascades information to the students in a way that the students have no input in the information given. In general terms, it describes a typical lecture session. The banking concept is the inherent nature of teaching in most institutions. What Freire calls the problem posing method is his answer to the banking concept, which should be seen to be the exact opposite of the banking concept. In the problem posing method, the students are expected to create the information instead of the instructor passing it down to them. The instructor just acts as a mediator and organizer, and barely comes up with any ideas. The students are faced with problems and are encouraged to find their own solutions to these problems. This encourages the students to think critically. An education like that is best related to the real world, where people have to make decisions on their own everyday, and ironically, according to many studies, is also the best way to learn and retain information as well.HHHHHHHHHHHHHH
There is an old Hebrew saying: “the best teacher is yourself”. That is why pedagogical theories like constructivism (Dougiamas, 1998), have become so popular in educational circles. Constructivism’s main position is that a student better retains knowledge that he or she constructs. The famous educator and psychologist Jean Piaget once said: “Knowledge is actively constructed by the learner, not passively received from the environment.” (Dougiamas, 1998). In an ideal educational situation, the teacher actually conveys no knowledge to the student, and the students forms all the knowledge he gains his or herself.
The problem posing method is a very similar to the pedagogy idea of constructivism, where the basic principal is that a student learns better when they create knowledge, then when knowledge is created for them. However, teaching in such a fashion is quite difficult. Imagine high school teachers with over a hundred fifty students having to evaluate many different student's unique perspectives. That is why standardized education is so popular, not because it is better, because it is far more logistically easier.
Enter the computer. Computers can solve many of the logistical problems facing educators interested in this method. One such technology is a something called a wiki. A wiki is software usually presented on the Internet or some type of network that allows many people to work together to create something. Something can be almost anything, as wikis have been used to create news articles, to computer programs, to entire encyclopedias. In a wiki, all contributers have equal access to modify any article on the wiki. The nature of the wiki adds an interesting perspective to this whole thing. A strong social aspect is prevalent in the wiki, because few wikis have a single contributor. This adds a social aspect to constructivism, something very difficult to achieve in a traditional classroom. The idea that when people create knowledge with other people, everyone benefits, is also part of constructivist thought. If I was to teach anything, not just the problem posing method, I would teach it in a constructivist manner. As a regular user and contributer to the popular wiki and encyclopedia Wikipedia, I have seen first hand what is possible with a group of dedicated people come together to create something. I am very passionate about wiki technology, especially what this technology can do to reform education. Because of this, I would have my students create a wiki article as an assignment. One argument against wiki technology would be, if the class was to create one assignment, how can you grade for many students? How can you be fair if one students contributed a lot and another contributes a little? This is not a valid argument. All wikis have the ability to monitor contributions to an article, a dedicated instructor can look on what contributions students made. With some programming, one can also modify a wiki to describe how many words a student contributed, further easing the process.
Wiki technology should be further investigated in it's educational applications. It is easy to get excited about a technology is has shown to be very effective in creating things, and because of this, effective in learning things.
Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Continuum Publishing Company, 1970. Anthony Petrosky et al. Al. Ways of Reading, an Anthology for Writers Fifth Edition, Bedford/St. Martin's, 2002
Dougiamas, Martin. A journey into Constructivism, Self-published, 1998 http://dougiamas.com/writing/constructivism.html
Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, Wiki, Various contributors, 2005 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki Copied verbatim with permission.
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2005 © Jonathan Ben-Joseph. All Rights Reserved.
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