Assignment: “Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” 3/15/2015

Honestly, my immediate reaction to first reading this excerpt was simply “yes.” It’s truly an amazing feeling when you see things you’ve thought of multiple times in the past sitting before you, articulated and in depth. I pretty much agree completely with what the author is saying (minus a few generalizations and what seem like contradictions here and there, that really make no difference in the grand scheme). It’s especially fascinating when you can empathize with what’s being said as well. Loved reading it (though it is a handful to attack at once). Paolo’s writing may be a handful for anyone to get in one stroke, but it holds a lot of truth. Every syllable made his already solid argument stronger and stronger, in my opinion, though defending such an argument would be difficult, since I personally believe this argument is one better understood when experienced, rather than read–in other words someone who’s never experienced such a broken education system may not even be aware of it (Friere alludes this when he says in page 14, “…for there are innumerable well-intentioned bank clerks teachers who do not realize that they are serving only to dehumanize…“).

Paolo is surprisingly argumentative in this excerpt. His very writing shows how much confidence he had when this was typed, and I appreciate that (confidence to me is a very important virtue). Based off what I’ve read, his standpoint from very early is shown, especially when he goes from saying the banking system treats students and basic seeker of knowledge (as he also refers to adults and their integration into the system later on), and how freedom and true creativity is revoked from students, to saying lines such as “… Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention.” He then further dwells into the Banking System and in short bluntly criticizes it, and even accusing it of being responsible for many faults in our society today in several parts of his writing.

“The oppressed are regarded as the pathology of the healthy society which must therefore adjust these “incompetent and lazy” folk to its own patterns by changing their mentality.”

It’s also apparent here:

“Implicit in the Banking Concept is the assumption of a dichotomy between human beings and the world.”

He seemingly argues here that through the banking system, the schools are slowly training students to become detached and to be different from the established world slowly forming around their young, “naive” mind.

There’s actually something that caught my attention (also early on), the fact the he repeatedly uses the word “truth” to talk about his point, which I felt actually hurt his argument. No matter how much I agree with his argument, I cannot bring myself to say what he says is absolute truth–my me agreeing with him does not justify the validity of his statements either. I don’t believe in a right or wrong, nor a truth or false, in many instances. Even in matters such as Math, where “logically speaking”, 2 + 2 = 4; 2 + 2 can indeed equal 5 if someone truly believes that’s the answer–and they’ll be right simply because they says they are, and in their world (which is the same world we inhabit) their argument holds. Truths can become lies through something as easily as perspective, thus arguments that abuse of the truth/false card do indeed lose validity, in my opinion; theories are no longer theories if they’re 100% true. In fact, I believe his “truths” lose their strength simply because he calls them so several times throughout the passage. Still, his argument over the relationship between students and teachers holds out just fine, this I know very well through experience.

“Yet only through communication can human life hold meaning.”

I can actually empathize with this entire excerpt, as I once had an debate with a teacher over such. It was back in High School, and my teacher’s definition of art… differed… from my own. I became an Art major simply to release my “art juices”; I blindly joined to simply draw and improve in my own way. However due to my lax nature, I have a tendency of taking things as far as I want until my expectations surpass the current assignment and I abandon the project all together, which is my nice way of saying I didn’t finish anything I started because I was lazy and unconfident in my abilities. That being said, I genuinely believed that Art was about doing ever comes to mind and abandoning all other reason besides your own. I (was) trying to become a manga artist at the time, and thus I drew a lot of my own personal characters. However, my teacher didn’t believe that cartooning, in any form, was art. Not only that, he began pressing us for time, saying things like “I expect four completed art pieces from everyone on a monthly(?) basis.”

Now that doesn’t sound like too serious a request to anyone outside the artist’s circle, most likely. However, it wasn’t about the request so much as the principle of it–creativity, as unlimited as it is, isn’t instantly ready/abundant–to ask someone to have a masterpiece ready on a regular basis isn’t very practical. Especially when in terms of art, how could one who is not the original artist possibly decide when something is complete? I normally just go with the flow to get things done as quickly as possible, however, I don’t really enjoy having someone hovering over my back and saying “you should … in order to …,” because that destroys my image and instead places another person’s instead. Doesn’t make much sense to restrict the freedom in a subject as open-world and individualized as Art.

I brought it up with my teacher after quite some time, and I told him flat out that I didn’t enjoy having my creative outlets shut off. I honestly didn’t (and one could argue that I still don’t) do my school work for the grades, I do it for the experience and because I enjoyed most of what I did, and quite frankly I was perfectly okay with failing that class no matter how required it was, because I prioritized my happiness first and I didn’t just see my teacher as an executive who’s job was to order me around (luckily I didn’t fail, however). I joined in order to allow my creativity to flow, and with my forte being cartooning, to be told that “cartooning isn’t art” was not only offensive, it was inviting me to rebel–I lost the happiness and thus my apathy kicked in. I got into several debates (not arguments) with my teacher for days, debating on what art really means and why adding creative shackles was really, in all honesty, ridiculous; I might’ve even inadvertently started a little rebellion group against the teacher for dismissing cartooning. While recognized his accomplishments and respected him as a man and teacher, and while I understood he needed actual substance to grade, I did not think it was savvy of him to choose completion over growth and dedication.

One could say the whole journey ended in my favor (sorta). My teacher gave me artistic liberties in class, however, the joy to me was dead, and I instead dropped the major for another skill I wished to develop, Stagecraft, and worked on art independently. Me and said teacher maintained a good relationship, however, we just can’t see eye to eye on what art really is, and while I do understand his experience does cover a broad spectrum I won’t be able to fill anytime soon, I didn’t think that justified me seeing things his way and tossing my ideals down the drain. For all I know, his experience may be full of junk (practice makes perfect but what if you practice something the wrong way for an extended amount of time?), I will never know.

One thing is certain though, the author’s argument hold up, it is clear the school systems (or at least the NYC school system I’ve personally seen and dealt with) have fallen victim to this near dictatorial Banking Concept, and I’m confident we are statistically suffering educationally speaking in comparison to the rest of the world because our methods (and several other methods around the world) aren’t working effectively.

Here’re some quotes I found interesting for some apparent reason:

“… the object surrounding me are simply accessible to my consciousness, not located within it. I am aware of them, but they are not inside me.”

“The “humanism” of the banking approach masks the effort to turn women and men into automatons — the very negation of their ontological vocation to be more fully human.”

“… the necrophilous person loves all that does not grow, all that is mechanical. The necrophilous person is driven by the desire to transform the organic into the inorganic, to approach life mechanically, as if all living persons were things…. Memory, rather than experience, having, rather than being, is what counts’ the necrophilous person can relate to an object — a flower or a person — only if he possesses it; hence a threat to his possession is a threat to himself, if he losses possession he loses contact with the world… He loves control, and in the act of controlling he kills life.”

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Monday, March 9th Homework Assignment

Educational Challenge:

An education challenge I’ve personally experienced worth mentioning would be my inability to do homework. Personally, I’ve always had a dodge and weave nature when it came to topics pertaining to academic affairs, primarily with affairs such as homework. I was always able to get away with never completing homework assignments throughout most of grade school (honestly, I went a good 5-6 years without doing any homework). It became so bad that even if I were failing a class, I’d choose another, much more inconvenient method to pass. I’d normally have no problems with extensive projects, or research papers, but plain homework seemed to, bore me, to say the least.

How I overcame this (if you can say I did) was by basically getting rid of my old immature, probably even whiny, attitude, by recognizing that my next step required my all or nothing, and by asking myself what was more important, instantly gratifying extra hours of doing nothing, or by working hard so that I don’t have to for a long time (delayed gratification). Homework may not be the most important part of an education, but it’s a part of the package. I realized that me dodging and weaving wasn’t gonna get me anywhere, and I needed to kick the problem at its source, which was my horrible levels of procrastination. Although I can’t say I’ve successfully defeated this threat, I can say in realizing what needs to change and accepting it, I’ve already taken the first step into overcoming it.

Zitkala Sa’s The School Days of an Indian Girl Response:

Well, before anything else, I must say, I have a new favorite author. I have a soft spot for Native American stories likes these (apparently), so I’ll get rid of it all right now before moving on to my actual response: WOW I ENJOYED THAT SO MUCH WHAT A FANTASTIC READ, IT WAS SO GOOD I PRACTICALLY SUBCONSCIOUSLY ENDED UP COMMENTING PERSONAL CHEERS FOR HER AS THE STORY PROGRESSED IN HER FAVOR. I’M BUYIN’ THIS; IT’S BEEN DECIDED.

My personal cheers for the main character near the story’s end.

On to an actual serious response, the story was great. Although I was disappointed when I reached the end, I think the few chapters offered more than enough progression story and character wise to discuss about. Especially in the middle and latter half.

First thing I wanted to point out was her character’s early development–specifically between chapters one through the end of five–and her language from then to there. What I found to be most admirable about this young girl had to be her tenacity and burning resolve for most of the story, but I believe her will was strongest within the first five chapters. Despite being at the missionary for quite some time, she continued to resist any form of brainwashing or bribing done by the teachers of the establishment (even going as far as beginning a small “no” uprising for a few paragraphs). Evidence of this was shown very subtly in her speech pattern, such as how in the beginning, where she understood nothing of the European American (better word than pale faces in my opinion)’s, anything, really. Everything perplexed her at first. However a few chapters in, she did show signs of understanding, but still maintained the same level of rebellion she had early in the story. One example of how she integrated herself into the Euro-American culture was around chapter four, where she documented her learning of Old Scratch himself (an uncommon cute nickname used for the Devil). I was already familiar with what the Devil is portrayed as in lots of denominations, so the description was as expected, however what caught my eye in this particular scene was how she described him.

Underlined some of the comparisons.

Native Americans are very connected to nature, believing that everything has a soul, something which isn’t exactly commonly thought in Christianity. In this description, while her English is no longer as, awkward, as before, you can still see her N. American roots come into play when she says things like:

I never knew there was an insolent chieftain among the bad spirits

Trailing at his heels was a scaly tail tipped with a serpent’s open jaws

… his nose was an eagle’s bill, and his sharp-pointed ears were pricked up like those of a sly fox

… Above in my throat, as I looked at the king of evil spirits….

Those seem like simple enough descriptions, but the bolded and italicized portions are were my attention was caught. Even when dealing with a different belief system all together, even when later on she seemingly believes all she heard to be all too real, she still tied it all to her roots. She associated the Devil to be an evil spirit, and described him with animals found in nature. She continues to shape her own thoughts despite what those around her wanted her to believe, whether it went with what was taught or not. Eventually it caused her to take drastic decisions for herself.

However, I believe even she can see that the change she underwent was too great, and that she no longer belong with any side, not with nature, not back in her tribe, nor back at the school, and eventually started her own path with herself as her own affiliate. She considered self dulled in terms of appreciation, I would assume, and just began feeling undetached and unloved. However she continued to march on with a strong resolve, a resolve so strong that it caused her to deliberately disobey the same mother she often cried for earlier in the story. She later goes on about how she would cry to herself silently praying for (and I quote) “sympathy”, but still continues to strive for what she wants despite the now fully understood racial slurs attacking her at full force.

The little taste of victory did not satisfy a hunger in my heart….

By the end she not only begins to see her hard work blossom, but she even defeats her own depressive state and continues to aim higher, which only shows even further how she’s grown as a character, and how, well, inspirational her story felt. It honestly does show that even when you feel alone in the physical and mental sense, a mere desire can be enough to take you from living in a wigwam in the dirt to so much more.

Also, I found this cool artwork while researching the author, I know it’s not necessary, but it’s still kinda cool: