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Against the Banking System -- Rhetoric and Composition

Right now, I'm taking a graduate pedagogy course in English rhetoric and composition. Our major project of the semester is to create our own four week syllabus for any type of college level writing course, using rhetoric and composition theory to back up our methods of teaching. At first, I was wary of admitting to the title of "Freirist" as my teacher so dubbed me, but I'm growing to like the title more and more. Paulo Freire was a Brazilian teacher and critical pedagogist who fought against what he called the "banking system" of education. Many of us are more than familiar with this model: the teacher is the master of the classroom and the ultimate keeper of knowledge. Students, on the other hand, are inexperienced, empty vessels waiting to be filled in and guided like blind mice. The teacher lectures, and the students listen with little to no participation -- no discourse. Sometimes, on the outside, this system does not look particularly sinister. Some might even argue that, especially at the grammar school level, children need to be taught "their place," which is inevitably a sphere outside of the more "relevant" world of adults and their own concerns. Perhaps I am a little radical, but I still believe that a teacher can maintain order and respect in the classroom without disrespecting the perspective and experience of the student. The best teachers I have ever had were those who accomplished this effectively. No matter what age we are, all of us seek to be affirmed and legitimized. In a world filled with prejudice and lack of compassion, where measurable, capitalistic gain is more important than content of character it is sometimes not so easy to emphasize respect for every living being regardless of their identity and age. So, if you asked me what my classroom might look like, I would say egalitarian, sophist, and, yes, Freirist. I believe that in order to get respect, you must give it.