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Freire’s philosophy

This paper presents an analysis of Freire’s ‘Banking Concept of Education’ and Berger’s ‘Ways of Seeing’ and the relation of these writings with the concept of power- the attitude of power displayed by teachers towards the students in Freire’s writings and the power relationship between art historian, ruling class and the masses in Berger’s writings. Freire’s philosophy of education is a criticism of the traditional educational system.

In the traditional system, Freire says that the teacher becomes a narrative character who narrates ‘education’ to her/his students, who are listening patiently. This system turns students “into ‘receptacles’ to be ‘filled’ by the teacher,” (Freire, 72) and negates the individuality of the student, including their unique styles of learning, and the opportunity to either give, or have their input heard. Students are expected to receive information, file it away, only to be regurgitated during examinations.

Any attempt by the student to creatively use the information being ‘deposited’ by their teacher is prematurely squashed. John Berger’s “Ways of Seeing” is an in depth look on art, the way people view it and the influences that traditional oil painting has had on society and modern day publicity. The beginning of the book goes into the issue of how people now look at art versus how people in the past look at art and how reproduction has effected this. The relationship between social status and the subjects of oil painting, particularly the female nude is discussed as well.

Berger turns to modern day and explains the role that publicity takes in our daily lives and how it is modeled after the traditional oil painting of the past. 2. Analysis 2. 2. Analysis of Freire’s ‘banking concept of education’ The relationship between a student and their teacher traditionally is one that involves much guidance and direction, but also quite a bit of lecturing and “telling. ” As Paulo Freire puts it, “A careful analysis of the teacher-student relationship at any level, inside or outside the school, reveals its fundamentally narrative character” (Freire qtd. in Bartholomae 259).

This relationship sometimes works, given the fact that the teacher may obviously come as more of an expert on the given topic they are teaching that the student, or else the student would be teaching the class. The students in some circumstances do need to be taught and lectured too about facts and methods and such, but there also comes a time when the students need to be free thinkers- for Freire, this is where the traditional culture of education fails as it does not foster a ‘free-thinking’ attitude to students by failing to provide such opportunity to students.

Freire argues that students need to be able to apply what they are learning to their lives, or else what they are learning simply does not sink in. It is obvious that if the student is not interested in what they are studying, they are less likely to retain anything, making the class more or less a waste of time. Freire argues that the roles of the student and teacher fall into an interplay that reflects the colonialistic and oppressive nature of our society.

For example, ‘the teacher knows everything, and the students know nothing”, “the teacher chooses and enforces his choice, and the students comply”, “the teacher acts and the students have the illusion of acting through the action of the teacher”, “the teacher confuses the authority of knowledge with his or her own professional authority, which she/he sets in opposition to the freedom of the students”. (Freire, 73) To Freire, knowledge cannot happen with the banking method of teaching.

Freire defines “knowledge [as] emerging only through intervention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other” (Freire, 72). Education, as the practice of freedom, must begin by breaking the conventional roles of the student and the teacher (oppressed/ oppressor). This can be achieved through dialogue (the encounter of people in conversation in order to name the world), which has the effect of making the student/ teacher relationship reciprocal, one learns from the other.

Freire Argues that liberatory education works against the alienation of the student from their decision-making processes by posing problems in a dialectical setting. This changes the role of the student from an ‘object’ to a ‘subject’. It is a process of authentic liberalization, of humanization. It fosters a setting that empowers participants to make their own decisions, name and explore issues, and challenge their place in the world because “liberation is a praxis- the action of men and women reflecting upon the world in order to transform it” (Freire, 79).

Problem-posing or liberatory education rejects the banking style of education as a style of domination, and moves towards the conscientization of the people; a process of constantly breaking down constructed myths that captivate people in the roles of ‘objects’ in a world where only ‘subjects’ have power, and becoming a ‘subject’ by heightening ones awareness of such contradictions through dialogue and becoming an active figure in changing that reality. 2. 2. Analysis of Berger’s ‘ways of seeing’

In Berger’s “Ways of Seeing”, he articulates a set of concerns with images, both photographic and painted or drawn, and with their relation to text. Berger opens by claiming for the image a prior and more central place in the human sensorium: “It is seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world with words, but words can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by it” (Berger 7). Thus, for Berger, from the beginning, words are a reduction of the image, an attempt to capture through language the essence of something that will inevitably elude that attempt.

The visual also acts in a particular way to situate the viewer, both through the perspective of the image in question and through the cultural and historical context of that image. In the act of viewing, we situate ourselves in the image we view, thus taking on a special, perspective-based relationship to the things viewed. “Perspective [which is not a natural but a cultural phenomenon] makes the single eye the centre of the visible world. Everything converges on to the eye as to the vanishing point of infinity” (Berger, 16).

The display of power has always been apparent in painted images. For instance, Berger points out in Episode II f the video ‘ways of seeing’, as seen in BBC, the power relation between sexes. In that episode, Berger cites a painting in which a man had her mistress painted nude, which Berger points out to be serving the pleasure of the man who also own the painting. Berger also points out that the form of the woman signifies her awareness that she has a spectator in the person of the man who asked her painted, as well as her submissiveness to this same man.

In Episode III of the video, Berger discusses how paintings have becomes means to display power, wealth and ownership. Berger points out that the evolution of European oil paintings, from the Renaissance period where the subjects are primarily humans, to later being objects as one of the central subjects has also revolutionized people’s perceptions of paintings. That is, paintings have become images conveying messages of wealth and pedigree and power through the painted objects alongside the image of the person who owns them.

At this point, paintings have also become commodities that started to have values. Following Walter Benjamin’s argument in “The Art Object in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” Berger argues that the technologies of photography and motion photography work to divest the image of its prior claim to a perspective-based centrality: “What you saw was relative to your position in time and space. It was no longer possible to imagine everything converging on the human eye as on the vanishing point of infinity” (Berger, 18).

Thus, the meaning or signification of a photographic image as compared to a prior painted image is de-centered, diffused. It carries less absolute meaning or, as Berger says, “its meaning multiplies and fragments into many meanings” (Berger 19). As an example, Berger discusses a painting which is shown on the television screen and which is thus simultaneously present inside the houses of potentially millions of viewing subjects. III. Conclusion In ‘banking system of teaching’, teachers assume students are passive, take all control, determine what will be learned, and “force-feed” information to students.

The world is seen as static; students are encouraged to “fit in to” the world as it is. ‘Banking education’ encourages students to accept the world as it is, separates the learner and the learner’s consciousness from the world, and so contributes to oppression. Paulo Freire proposed problem-posing as an alternative to the banking system of education. In problem-posing, students and teachers carry on a dialogue to teach one another. The world is seen as always in the process of becoming; students are seen as parts of that.

Students are therefore active, becoming empowered to criticize the world and so change it. Problem-posing thereby results in the liberation of the students and in the revolution against oppressive social and economic systems. Problem-posing education allows people to develop their human natures fully because it depends on dialogue (communication), recognizes the relationship between people and the world, encourages inquiry, and leads to transformation. Our perceptions are greatly affected by time, situations that we are in, and even the technology that we have.

These aspects revolve over time, which then modify the way we view the world. The art of publicity in the modern day does not ask about existence but asks about your future “Will you be happy? ” Publicity takes this idea of materialism. With advertising, the concepts of envy and glamour are introduced; these make people happy by having something others don’t. Berger explains the different between glamour now and grace and elegance in the past. There was no glamour in the past. Today glamour is showing off the materials you have that other people do not have and want.

Envy is key in advertising it makes people want what the person in the advertisement has; therefore being unsatisfied with their present state. References Bartholomae, David and Anthony Petrosky. The Teaching of Writing: The Eighty fifth Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education. Chicago: NSSE and The University of Chicago Press, 1986. Print. Berger, John. Ways of the Seeing. UK: Penguin, 1972. Print. Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 3rd Ed.. New York: Continuum, 2000. Print

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