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Education: Comparing Freire and Plato

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Education is a very key aspect of a young person’s life. People go to school to find themselves and figure out what their interests are in order for them to find a career someday. Paulo Freire and Plato give their criticism on how the education system is lost. Paulo Freire refers to the education system as a banking model, this is where teachers deposit information in the minds of students as though it is money. Plato draws a comparison to the prisoner that is locked in a dark cave and forced to watch the items on the wall. Paulo Freire and Plato are encouraging the reader to step out what they know as the norm, and that they should be able to question people that have authority to find what is true.

Paulo Freire believes that the education system is extremely passive, in that students continue to accept the information that the teacher is giving without understanding it fully. Paulo Freire claims that “Narration (with the teacher as narrator) leads the students to memorize mechanically the narrated content. Worse yet, it turns them into ‘containers,’ into ‘receptacles’ to be ‘filled by the teacher. The more completely she fills the receptacles, the better a teacher she is. The more meekly the receptacles permit themselves to be filled, the better students they are” (Freire 1970, 71-72). Paulo Freire refers to education as a banking system of education because of the way the teachers transmit knowledge through a curriculum that is determined by people that are not the teachers. The banking system of education causes the social order to be more oppressive in that the student is lesser than the teacher which allows the teacher to deposit more information into the student’s mind. Students that are taught through the banking system of education will likely connect these patterns of teachers depositing information to mean that the people that are teaching have paternal authority over them. Paulo Freire wrote that “In the banking concept of education, knowledge is a gift bestowed by those who consider themselves knowledgeable upon those whom they consider knowing nothing. Projecting an absolute ignorance onto others, a characteristic of the ideology of oppression negates education and knowledge as processes of inquiry” (Freire 1970, 72). Paulo Freire’s solution is that we liberate the education system by offering the students the ability to explore their ideas and grow on their own. Freire wants to give the students more freedom but maintains responsibility, and that grading should take both of these aspects into account.

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Plato believed that there was nothing more important than education in a young person’s life. Plato believed that people would become better people and benefit because of education, he wrote, “a good educational system, if maintained, engenders people of good character, and then people of good character, if they in their turn receive the benefits of an education of this kind” (Plato 2011, 153). Plato believed that education should not be provided by the parents, but instead by the state. Plato had a very detailed curriculum. He believed that children should be taught poetry, literature, music, and mathematics until the age of eighteen in elementary school. He thought that elementary school should be coeducational meaning they would be no gender segregation. Students would then take two years of physical education, and some of the students would be selected to serve in the military as guardians of the state. The students would then be able to move on to a higher education where they would study mathematics, philosophy, and literature. These people would work in a governing body. Plato was opposed to forcing people into education, he said, “We must bear in mind that education is not capable of doing what some people promise. They claim to introduce knowledge into a mind which doesn’t have it, as if they were introducing sight into eyes which are blind” (Plato 2011, 176). Plato believes that the guardian of a child is morally responsible for them receiving an education. Plato gives a detailed curriculum that would form an ideal society. This ideal society cares for the children and their future.

Furthermore, both Paulo Freire and Plato can offer a different perspective on education and ignorance in their different ways by using imagery and descriptive language. Freire and Plato have different writing styles, but they can emphasize a student being able to question someone of superiority and to reconsider what they have been taught to be the truth. In Paulo Freire’s essay, “The Banking Concept of Education” he can analyze the learning process between a teacher and a student. He can address the idea that under the banking system a student might feel oppressed by the education system which is meant to be a pathway to knowledge. Freire can appeal to the audience using logos, by giving facts and thoughtful examples he can tap into a reader’s logical side to get the reader to rethink what is known as the truth. Plato on the other hand draws the reader in using pathos. In “Allegory of the Cave” Plato uses imagery to appeal to the reader’s emotions by telling of a man that has been freed from the cave where he was imprisoned for his whole life where he was forced to look at shadows on the wall. He is enlightened by his freedom and he can experience a different world than he was previously accustomed to and he can see new truth.

Plato and Paulo Freire can address the problems with the education system. They use powerful imagery and descriptive language to address the problems with education but in their own ways. Plato uses pathos to get the reader thinking about they are imprisoned in a cave. He also gives a very detailed curriculum for how the education system should be. Paulo Freire can get the reader to think about their education career and if they were a part of a banking system of education using logos. Freire wants to give the students more freedom to explore on their own but maintain responsibility. Paulo Freire and Plato are encouraging the reader to ask more questions and not to settle on a single answer.

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