I assigned a short passage from Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed for my first year writing class; it's the section on the banking concept of education and why it's less than ideal. (A lot less.)
And then I was stupidly shocked when some of them complained about how hard it was, and how they didn't understand it, and what were they supposed to do if they didn't understand Latin.
Seriously, I don't know where my brain was when I was reading it, but I didn't register it as something that would cause great difficulty. And I was wrong.
But, it was the perfect piece in a way, because he's all about students not being passive, but really coming to contribute, and so we talked about teachers being responsible for listening and learning, and students being responsible for speaking and teaching, too.
Interestingly, some students made a clear connection between the banking concept and the "No Child Left Behind" testing that they were put through. Coolness.
So, students, if you don't want to be oppressed, get active and take responsibility. And teachers, don't just imagine that you're the font of knowledge, pouring it into your poor students' heads and then hoping they'll spit it forth during a test.
And we talked about how scary it is to give up power, and how it's sometimes also scary to take power because it also means taking responsibility.
What could have been just misery turned into a pretty good discussion. Thanks, Professor Freire!