Mathematics and Banking Education

      Today I have to give sincere props to both my mother and Dr. Bridges. Engaging in a conversation with both enlightened some of my developing impressions and concerns with Paulo Friere's Pedagogy of the Oppressed. I am currently in the midst of reading his description of 'Banking Education'. The definition hit me twice over; in the context of both counter cultural art and math education. I will wait to unpack the idea of counter cultural art once my friend finishes his project, but I can definitely speak to my current life project in examining math education.
      Reflecting upon that experience under new notions of actual understanding, the ability to look for patterns and make connections that I did intuitively is significant in the process of being  a mathematician. My peers didn't get that intuitively. The way we were being taught  limited their ability to succeed, and if they did succeed it was by means of the ability just to do a task. They weren't being supported (nor was I) to cognitively reflect on any possible connections to the things we were doing in the classrooms. The students were not being encouraged to be mathematical. The focus was being right by following prescribed steps(something I am trying to shake to this day).
        I have been under hunches since last semester that essentially believes the style mathematics has been taught to me growing up was oppressive. That inherently the way in which we did mathematics is not built for those who aren't a art of a certain ilk to succeed (I realize I am making a big assumption here and in a further post I will try to unpack what I mean, for now take it on surface value). This has been rooted in the idea of effective pedagogy, however upon reading Friere, the definition of Banking Education gives me space and I guess room to make sense of the hunches I have been having over the last 6 months. For those who don't know Banking Education is the following:
       The characteristics of banking education including being mechanic. This detail allows me to link this to my history with Mathematics. I mentioned that I was learning math by artificial 100 question ritual. Thats mechanic by default. The skill and drill notion of mathematics is so popular that I feel anyone reading this can relate. In fact the idea of my boss at a past job was that the math proficiency just happened by doing. However subscribing to that theory suggests meaningful education occurs via mechanistic means of education, which is whole heartedly wrong. Although I am just trying to get my mind around what Paulo Friere has to say his view on education which suggests that if a 'Banking Education' is occurring , then students are being oppressed. 
     To end this post and thought lightly, we talk about STEM as being a means of liberating students of dark backgrounds but is it possible that the alleged future of the world, the way it is being taught, is a means of actually trapping them? That the alleged most important means of education that can free a student, as it is described in the mainstream, has qualities that are determined to oppress the students who need it the most?

      Based on my math experiences in Jamaica I have walked away feeling that math classes reinforces primitive techniques. The techniques I grew up with were skill and drill oriented. I remember doing 100 questions for home work when studying algebra to get the hang of it. I wouldn't necessarily speak against that experience as I was able to develop a certain eye for patterns . However those pattern searching eyes were something I just developed internally on my own trying to get the right answer, where as my friends didn't. Instead they just felt swamped, feeling that mathematics had no purpose. It was weird, each of my peers found something they flourished in and there was stiff competition to be what we called 'gurus' amongst each other for certain subjects. I remember my friends Christopher  and Courtney fighting to be History gurus. Math was nothing  like that. It was a lonely island among my immediate peers, it was just me. My friends identity and perception of competency was in the subjects they tried to be gurus in, its interesting that I was alone amongst them who tried to do that with math.

"Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the 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 " ( Friere 1970, pg. 53)

Could it?

Shout outs: Dr.Bridges, Mom
Peace, Love, Unity, God Bless and Keep Safe

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