Here at Columbia University I am asked to weigh two arguments, which are concerned with the nature of the scales I use to weigh them as well as with the purpose of those scales. By scales I am referring to the university setting in America. The first argument is made by John Newman in The Idea of a University. Newman presents a sober discourse which says that the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake is worthy and capable of standing alone. He also acknowledges the importance of other forms of knowledge and pursuits. Paulo Freire's more recent arguments in the Pedagogy of the Oppressed outline a means of education called "problem-posing" which provides a useful framework for those wishing to pursue liberal knowledge in the manner of Newman. However, Freire's extreme rhetoric and theories about the ideal purpose of education are contradictory and take away from his overall argument.
[...] Additionally, the benefits and awareness of problem- posing education will not lead all people to desire changing the world, but will inspire some to want to do so and others to pursue knowledge simply because they want to. Still, Freire's warnings cannot be abandoned. In a world where participation in higher education is an expectation full of pressure and because within education itself there lie required courses and repetition it is important to consider and try to avoid what could potentially become oppressive and mechanical. The hope of course is that if a student [...]
[...] the risk of lapsing into “banking”). Problem-posing is more prevalent these days simply because thinkers like Freire have outlined the importance of those methods by making us aware of them and establishing them in our “emerging consciousness”. Newman focused mainly on ideals and it was Freire who revealed the pitfalls. However, “students-teachers” cannot be good teachers if they do not already know something, so over-zealous efforts to make education problem-posing could be detrimental. In other words, it is important to realize that not all things can simply be communicated in a balanced dialogue unless we want to rediscover a lot of wheels. [...]
[...] Freire mistakenly believes that problem-posing is “revolutionary futurity” which will give people a means of “understanding more clearly what and who they are so that they can more wisely build the future” (84). Liberal education as defined by Newman is “exercises of mind, of reason, of reflection” (81). It is “opposed to servile”, liberated, and is “refinement and enlargement of mind” for its own sake (80). These sentiments parallel nicely with Freirean ideals of “critical thinking” and “emerging consciousness.” A liberal education is the opposite of the drudgery of a banking education and would be efficiently pursued using Freirean means. [...]
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