In Rodriguezs essay, The Achievement of Desire, Rodriguez illustrates the characteristics of an automaton, thus confirming Freires views regarding the banking concept. Despite his classification as a “scholarship boy”, Rodriguez lacked his own point of view and confidence, which led him to be dominated by his teachers and his books. In the eyes of Paulo Frerie, Rodriguez would be considered a receptacle. He was filled not only with his teachers information, but also with knowledge obtained from his reading of “important” books. Rodriguez is a classic student of the banking system.
Early in his essay, Rodriguez shows signs of yielding to the ways of the banking concept. “I became the prized student,” Rodriguez admits, “anxious and eager to learn. Too eager, too anxious – an imitative and unoriginal pupil” (Rodriguez 622). Rodriguez was simply absorbing narrated information from his teachers and books. He did not actually understand the knowledge he absorbed. Freire would claim that the “words are emptied of their concreteness and become a hollow, alienated, and alienating verbosity” (Freire 348). Instead of understanding the information Rodriguez retained, he depended on his books and teachers to fill him with their own ideas and beliefs. These deposits of information caused Rodriguez to become unimaginative, and essentially apathetic.
After submitting to his teachers and to his books, Rodriguez slowly turned into what Freire would call an “automaton.” He detached himself from his parents and siblings and turned to books for comfort. He submerged himself in reading and studying, and distanced himself from social interaction. Rodriguez became not only removed from his parents; he actually became ashamed and embarrassed of them. Rodriguez only seemed to relate to his teachers. “I came to idolize my grammar school teachers. I began by imitating their accents, using their diction, trusting their every direction. The very first facts they dispensed, I grasped with awe. Any book they told me to read, I read then waited for them to tell me which books I enjoyed” (Rodriguez 625). Rodriguez allowed his teachers to tell him how to think; he became completely submissive to their every belief. As Freire stated the teachers task is, “to fill the students with the contents of his narration contents which are detached from reality, disconnected from the totality that endangered them and could give them significance” (Freire 348). Instead of having his own opinion, Rodriguez permitted his instructors the privilege of reasoning for him.
Rodriguez became a receptacle in every way possible. He basically left the fate of his education up to his teachers by allowing them to dump information into his mind. However, unlike the banking concept, his teachers did not dispose of knowledge in the form of narrated harangues. Instead, they used narrated literature in place of diatribes. Rodriguez read important books such as The Scarlet Letter and Great Expectations. “But I was not a good reader,” Rodriguez claims, “merely bookish, I lacked a point of view when I read. Rather, I read in order to acquire a point of view” (633). Rodriguez was a container in a sense that he retained the ideas of the books he read, but Rodriguez did not have an opinion about the authors content. This exemplifies Rodriguez as a student of the banking concept. Freire states that, “Projecting an absolute ignorance onto others, a characteristic of the ideology of oppression, negates education and knowledge as processes of inquiry” (Freire 349). Rodriguez did not question or analyze the information; he simply accepted and deposited the knowledge without any doubts.
In high school, Rodriguez displayed his indifference and lack of opinion evidently in a list that he created. Rodriguez read a newspaper article about a retired professor who had his own list of the “hundred most important books of Western Civilization” (634). The professors list of one hundred books was also found in the newspaper. Along with the list, the professor claimed that, “More than anything else in my life, these books have made me all that I am” (634). Rodriguez read the editorial and immediately after dedicated the next few months to reading every single book on the professors list. This act of desperation exhibited how much influence Rodriguezs teachers and books had on his education. He read the books thinking that the professors list would define his life as well, he did not realize that each person has their own list of works that reveal individual existences. Rodriguezs reading of the professors books relates to the banking method because the retired teacher was depositing his thoughts, or in this case his choice books into Rodriguez.
As a scholarship boy, Rodriguez conformed to the banking concept in other ways as well. According to Rodriguez, “The scholarship boy is a very bad student. He is a great mimic, a collector of thoughts, not a thinker…” (635). This not only describes Rodriguez; it also illustrates the theory of the banking system. In the banking system Freire states that, “The student records, memorizes, and repeats without perceiving what the significance is” (Freire 349). Freire believed that students did not think on their own, they simply memorized information divulged to them. This belief parallels Rodriguez and the memorized information he retained from the books he read.
When Rodriguez read his books, he was like a robot. He did not read to understand or interpret the books, he read for the soul purpose of saying that he had read that book.”Most books,” Rodriguez confesses, “I barely understood. While reading Platos Republic, I needed to keep looking at the book jacket comments to remind myself what the text was about. And by the time I reached the last work, relieved, I convinced myself that I had read The Republic” (Rodriguez 634). Rodriguez was oppressed by his books. He did not comprehend or appreciate the narratives he read. At a young age Rodriguez felt that it was necessary to read adult books rather than works written for children. He ignored the timeless classics such as Huckleberry Finn and Alices Adventures in Wonderland. Instead he read “important” books like the Iliad, Gone with the Wind, and even “the entire first volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica” (632). Rodriguez felt obligated to read the latter books, he did not choose to read them for the purpose of entertainment or pleasure. Freire labeled this as the, “banking concept of education, in which the scope of action allowed to the students extends only as far as receiving, filling and storing the deposits” (Freire 349). Rodriguez read the books for his teachers, so that he would become more like them. Rodriguez didnt realize, however, that he was becoming more of an automaton than anything else.
Rodriguez was thoroughly dominated and oppressed by his books and by his teachers. He lacked a voice and an opinion as well. Rodriguez is not only an automaton, but also of a banking concept student. He is a container holding the ideas and thoughts of distant authors and impersonal teachers. Rodriguez does not have opinions or beliefs of his own. His mind is filled with borrowed information and is missing analysis, examination, and point of view. After reviewing Rodriguezs education, Freire would undoubtedly classify him as a quintessential representation of a banking system pupil because in Freires words, “Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories” (349).
Freire, Paulo. “The Banking Concept of Education.” Ways of Reading. Boston:
Bedford/St. Martin, 1999. 384-359.
Rodriguez, Richard. “The Achievement of Desire.” Ways of Reading. Boston:
Bedford/St. Martin, 1999. 620-641.