Friday, April 15, 2005

Friere Friday...on teacher as narrator

Freire said:

The teacher talks about reality as if it were motionless, static, compartmentalized, and predictable. Or else he expounds on a topic completely alien to the existential experience of the students. His task is to "fill" the students with the contents of his narration -- contents which are detached from reality, disconnected from the totality that engendered them and could give them significance. Words are emptied of their concreteness and become a hollow, alienated, and alienating verbosity.

The outstanding characteristic of this narrative education, then, is the sonority of words, not their transforming power. "Four times four is sixteen; the capital of Para is Belem." The student records, memorizes, and repeats these phrases without perceiving what four times four really means, or realizing the true significance of "capital" in the affirmation "the capital of Para is Belem," that is, what Belem means for Para and what Para means for Brazil.

Narration (with the teacher as narrator) leads the students to memorize mechanically the narrated account. Worse yet, it turns them into "containers," into "receptacles" to be "filled" by the teachers. 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.

How far have we moved in this view of teaching and learning? How has the role of teaching changed over time? What of the role of the learner in today's world? The last section is quite poignant I think - that to consider you have provided students with lots of information (filled them with information!) you are a 'good' teacher! If students are thus full of information, they must be good students...

...but what have they really learned?


James said...

'We know lots more but do little different'

Or am I beeing too cynical :o)

p.s. isn't it Thursday?

James said...

Ah, it's just an RSS rerun... whoops.

Marg O'Connell said...

yeah, maybe we're just a lazy sort of species?

...umm, OK I lied about it being Friday! actually I'm playing with your mind!!