I like to use metaphors when discussing traditional versus more progressive models of instruction, teaching and learning. In my doctoral program I have learned these are called “pedagogies.” One of the most useful and a favorite of mine is Paulo Freire’s “banking model” of education, described well on page 22 of his book “Teachers As Cultural Workers: Letters to Those Who Dare Teach:”

For this reason also, as I have said so many times, teaching cannot be a process of transference of knowledge from the one teaching to the learner. This is the mechanical transference from which results machinelike memorization, which I have already criticized. Critical study correlates with teaching that is equally critical, which necessarily demands a critical way of comprehending and of realizing the reading of the word and that of the world, the reading of text and of context.

Freire defined the “banking concept of education” more explicitly on page 72 of his earlier work, “Pedagogy of the Oppressed:”

In the banking concept of education, knowledge is a gift bestowed by those who consider themselves knowledgeable upon those whom they consider to know nothing. Projecting an absolute ignorance onto others, a characteristic of the ideology of oppression, negates education and knowledge as processes of inquiry. The teacher presents himself to his students as their necessary opposite; by considering their ignorance absolute, he justifies his own existence. The students, alienated like the slave in the Hegelian dialectic, accept their ignorance as justifying the teacher’s existence —but, unlike the slave, they never discover that they educate the teacher.

In a more contemporary and non-Marxist spirit, Daniel Pink writes in “A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age” on pages 100-101 the following:

When facts become so widely available and instantly accessible, each one becomes less valuable. What begins to matter more is the ability to place these facts in context and to deliver them with emotional impact.

Pink is addressing here the way Google has leveled our informational and knowledge landscapes in the 21st century, and the importance of both story and design in this changed environment. This should have a direct impact on the way teachers teach today, and how we envision what an authentic environment of teaching and learning looks like and sounds like. Whether we are talking about industrial age Brazil (in the case of Freire) or 21st century learning environments (in the case of Pink), authentic instruction must involve much more than transmission by the teacher and passive reception by the student, followed by the active regurgitation of content by the student (we usually call this process “testing.”)

I have described in presentations and podcasts this traditional view of instruction as content transmission as a “memorize and reguritate” model. Today in a presentation by Tony Dolezal of Starbak Communications, Tony described instructors who simply lecture as teachers who “show up and throw up.”

I find this metaphor (or actually I guess I am using it as a simile) to be extremely amusing. Probably because it is so accurate in so many cases!

We need CCCC Digital Immigrants teaching in our 21st century classrooms, not instructional pretenders who “show up and throw up.” There is a time and a place for lecture, but increasingly that place is online and that time is whenever I as a student choose to listen or listen/view the instructor’s presentation. Instructors teaching in face to face environments should feel increased pressure to take full advantage of the synchronous potentials inherent in face to face (F2F) learning environments. This means students should be actively engaged in dialog with the instructor and their peers, involved in hands-on activities, working collaboratively on tasks, etc.


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