One think that should be remembered about trying to reform education is that members of institutions (every institution—but that would be another blog post) create both stated and unstated rules that seek to perpetuate the institution itself. Freire’s calling out of the concept of the “banking model” illustrates the way that model serves to reinforce sanctioned learning. When the instructors lecture, learning is received. This passive transfer actually does not endorse an education—instead it creates approved lines of “knowledge.”
English departments are a battleground for the idea of what is “acceptable” instruction via the “banking system.” Obviously, inclusion of works by non-white and non-dead authors threatens the bank. After all, we all know that the world will fall apart if students “never read a word of Chaucer” (http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304858104579264321265378790). Poor, struggling “English departments are now held so completely hostage to fashionable political and theoretical agendas that it is unlikely Shakespeare can qualify as an appropriate author” http://www.nytimes.com/1996/12/29/us/at-colleges-sun-is-setting-on-shakespeare.html. Yes, yes, they all have value—Chaucer is funny and writes about real people. Shakespeare gave us a bazillion idioms, and Milton is epic, but so is Star Wars.
Freire writes that students must deal with “problems relating to themselves in the world and with the world, will fell increasingly challenges and obliged to respond to that challenge (81).” I don’t think traditional banking methods work anymore, and I don’t understand why the pushback is concentrated in the humanities. After all, if I taught a class on computer programming on Fortran, but I would not teach the language past 1966 (that should be considered ancient enough to equal Shakespeare), I would be derided.
Q1: Does the “banking” metaphor extend further? Are these ideas “owned” but the Institution of Culture? Are the ideas loaned out on credit to students? What if there is an intellectual bankruptcy? How can the institution get the ideas back?
Q2: What would a new “canon” look like? Who would you want “everyone” to read?