The Epitome of Banking

If there was ever a moment where I felt information being “deposited” into me like a “container” it would be in preparation for standardized testing. During my career as a student I have noticed this theory of the “banking concept of education” but I never put words to my thoughts. The FCAT and SAT are both prime examples of how the banking concept is performed in every high school, middle school, and even elementary school today. It is amazing when you realize how much standardized testing, such as the FCAT and SAT, fit under this description of the banking concept.

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I can remember the choices I had to make in my sophomore year of high school, but the most important decision was to pass high school, or fail high school? Now one might think how would you make that decision at such an early time in high school? This is easily answered by one little acronym: FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test). To study for this test there is a period of time during the school year where all pursuit of education freezes and preparation for FCAT begins. There is no learning in the classroom, only deposits of information into every sophomore receptacle in the school. Not only do they stop the education process in Math and English (the classes that the FCAT is based on) but they also stop teaching in History, Science, and even in foreign language classes just to prepare you for FCAT.

In my Spanish II class I was taught how to do math problems and conjugate English verbs instead of learning Spanish. I learned nothing about Spanish for almost three months worth of time. This process repeated itself in each and every one of my classes throughout sophomore year. After all “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.” (260). So it all works out in the end, right? Wrong, not everything is as good as it seems. It is a travesty the time it takes to “prepare” or “fill the receptacles” for the FCAT. It is actually quite scary.

You are told straight to your face; you pass this exam or you fail high school. It is simple for the teachers to say such things when they are the ones filling us with this information. Little do they know, we can only retain so much. “Projecting an absolute ignorance onto others, a characteristic of the ideology of oppression, negates education and knowledge as processes of inquiry” (260). Also they put the burden of the grade your school receives in the category of “Excellency” on the students taking the FCAT. The ratio of pass to fail of the students taking the FCAT reflects on the “performance” of the school as a whole.

The faculty makes it seem like they are not forcing it on us, and they even try to make a game out of it. They’ve stooped as low as inviting everyone who passed the FCAT to a school-wide raffle for hundreds of dollars in prizes. “The oppressors use their “humanitarianism” to preserve a profitable situation. Thus they react almost instinctively against any experiment in education which stimulates the critical faculties and is not content with a partial view of reality but always seeks out the ties which link one point to another and one problem to another.” (Friere 261)

In turn this obviously made the ones who failed, or did not meet the “standard” of the school, obsolete and inadequate. Were these students’ not adequate receptacles? Or were they just not interested in this banking method of teaching? Maybe these students could have been better “fed” in a problem posing class where you can ask, why? And how? Maybe they saw what Freire was talking about when he denounced the teachings of the “banking concept of education”? Who knows? All they can do is “be taught”, “listen meekly”, “comply”, and “adapt to the program content the teacher chooses”. (261)

Another instance in my life where the banking concept has reared its ugly head is to make that all-important decision: What am I going to do with the rest of my life? What is the answer to that you may ask? Another easy acronym that everyone should know: SAT. It used to be called the Scholastic Aptitude Test then later changed to the Scholastic Assessment Test and now just called SAT because of controversy over the “meaning” of the test based on it’s name. This important test I would have to say represents all that the banking concept is about. The rest of your life could be decided by this one score of 400-1600. Isn’t that a scary thought?

That the rest of your life could be represented as a number? This is why the banking concept is basis of this test. Unlike the FCAT this method of the banking concept is self-induced. If you can fill yourself with enough information to over saturate your brain then you can get a high score on the SAT. “The capability of banking education to minimize or annul the student’s creative power and to stimulate their credulity serves the interests of the oppressors” (261). In this case the oppressors are the students. We pay for study guides, practice exams, and even computer software to try and deposit more information into our brains.

We try to exceed all of human limits just stockpiling our brain with as much information as possible cramming it all inside that little space just for this one test. And you know what the result will be? You will forget all of it the moment you step out of the test. This is also a flaw of the banking concept. When you have overstocked too much information in your brain for that short period it needs somewhere to go, and the only place it has to go is out. I have found this out first hand. When I studied for the SAT, I used the software, the practice tests, the workbooks, everything you could think of. I stored so much information in my brain I thought it was about to explode but once I got out of that testing facility I was never more relieved. In fact I was so relieved I forgot everything that I studied and that’s what happens.

In conclusion, the banking concept is the form of education used to conduct standardized testing. Whether it is the FCAT which is school-wide “deposit” or the SAT which is a self-induced “storage” they both following this banking concept. Even though it may not be the best way to get your education, in these instances it is the best-known way to “learn”. Through repetition of facts and deposits of information we all fall into the “standard of education”.