Toward student-driven education


Learning is a complex process, and the complexity becomes worse when ineffective strategies are applied. There is no doubt that many learning institutions prepare students inadequately to become the kind of people that can change the world upon graduation. Paulo Freire managed to trace this problem to the mode of instruction whereby teachers release loads of information to students without allowing them to participate in the knowledge generation process. The author terms it the banking system of education because students are banks and teachers are depositors. According to Freire, this system is flawed because students do not get the opportunity to ask questions on the topics taught but are expected to take whatever their teacher delivers in class as the absolute truth. On the contrary, Mark Edmundson is of the view that students are suffering from the consumerist mindset whereby they only take what impresses them and discard what they do not fancy. It is high time learning institutions struck a balance between students’ unique needs and the instruction methods in place, as this would ensure no student is left behind in the process of achieving learning outcomes.

Young learners’ brains have not developed to the extent of invoking critical thought in their study. Instead, they need constant guidance form the teacher to know what is right and wrong. This is why teachers should inform young learners as much as possible to equip them with a particular threshold of knowledge capable of jumpstarting them to critical thinkers. On the contrary, high school, college and university students have developed brains having stored adequate amounts of education through years of elementary school education. At the university, for example, a student starts from year one all the way to the fourth year. It would be illogical to assume that a student in the third year does not know concepts of the course learnt in the first two years of study.

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Freire claims that true knowledge can be obtained only through the processes of invention and reinvention in which students are required to make as many inquiries as possible on a given subject. In other words, the student already knows something about the topic perhaps larger than what the teacher delivers in class (Freire 5). If the student is allowed to pose a question, he or she challenges the teacher to enrich the content while striking a conversation on the topic to trigger the development of new ideas that were missing previously.

The assumption that the teacher has a monopoly of knowledge discourages adult learners from putting more effort into their studies. In reality, teachers are not versed in the topics they teach to the extent that they deliver everything that students require. Many learning institutions hire doctors and professors who operate under the illusion that they have reached the peaks of education hence they are the final say in the learning process. Consequently, they view students as ignorant people who should be enlightened to become better individuals. A closer look at doctoral and professorial qualifications reveals that they do not exploit all the limits of the study area owing to the short durations of study. Therefore, there is the need for a constant search for knowledge even after being awarded the degrees. The search cannot be effective if teachers do not engage in conversations with students and acknowledge that students are equally knowledgeable on the topics concerned (Edmundson 398).

Edmundson challenges the learning culture at the university because he feels that students are suffering from a phenomenon far out of the scope of the curriculum. He says, “From the start, the contemporary university’s relationship with students has a solicitous, nearly servile tone” (Edmundson 395). This means that universities do not understand the unique needs of students as far as content delivery is concerned; rather, the same old methods of instruction are in place whereby loads of information are pumped into the students’ brains before strict grading criteria are applied. Nevertheless, Edmundson admits that some universities are already responding to the consumer student by offering more choices for flexibility. For example, students can appear technically in classes during the first few weeks just to gauge whether they can like what is taught. Others can drop courses at final stages without adversely affecting their grades (Edmundson 395).

In conclusion, the present generation of students is largely consumerist having been born and raised in a consumer culture. Consequently, they believe that they should learn only the things they feel passionate about. Freire has demonstrated that the banking system of education is not doing students any good at the university. Instead, it turns students into zombies who believe that only cramming can rescue them from the hardships of learning. It is high time universities allowed students to do what things about which they are passionate. The learning process should be student-driven to ensure that students gain the best out of it.

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  1. Edmundson, Mark. “On the Uses of a Liberal Education: As Lite Entertainment for Bored College Students.” 389-403.
  2. Freire, Paulo. “The “Banking” Concept of Education.” Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. n.d. 243-254.
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