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The Consciousness: A Review on Freire’s Perceptions of Humankind

“There is no neutral process of education. Education works as an instrument fostering the generations’ integration in the actual ruling system’s logic assimilating conformism, or transforms itself in the practice of freedom, the way to men and women critically deal with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.” (Paulo Freire; 1921-1997)

When I was in my teaching profession for more than three years the biggest challenge for me was to transform what I exactly feel about the process of education into practice. The process of education we are used to seem like imposing the so called knowledge to the students, which in no mean was an ideal objective of education. I tried to develop an approach of teaching to ensure two way communications between the teachers and students. Then I find the much appreciable “Theory of Banking Education” by Brazilian Education Philosopher Paulo Freire. The Summary of his Banking Education Theory was something as below:

“Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiques and makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat. This is the “banking’ concept of education, in which the scope of action allowed to the students extends only as far as receiving, filing, and storing the deposits. They do, it is true, and have the opportunity to become collectors or cataloguers of the things they store. But in the last analysis, it is the people themselves who are filed away through the lack of creativity, transformation, and knowledge in this (at best) misguided system. For apart from inquiry, apart from the praxis, individuals cannot be truly human. Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.”

However discussing on the Theory of Banking Education and drawing a line between the theory and practice need much more analytical review. Hopefully will be able to do this later on. In this article I would like to review the perception of humankind in terms of Consciousness.


According to Paulo Freire there are two views on humankind.

  • One view conceives of humans as objects, they are mouldable and adaptable.
    • Brief Explanation: On this view humans can be compared with animals. They act and obey without taking time to reflect. An animal cannot see itself as “I” against a “not I”, or in other words it cannot see itself separate from this world. If human beings are seen as objects, they are submerged in the world. They have not been given a chance of self-reflection.
  • The other view sees humans as subjects, independent beings, able to transcend and recreate the world.
    • Brief Explanation: On this view, human beings are seen as subjects. They can think and reflect for themselves and they can dissociate from the world. The essential difference between humans and animals is that humans can operate in the world through action and reflection.

These two views on human kind directly and indirectly challenge the traditional process of education and transformation of knowledge. It remain a big question for us whether the traditional process of education can able to make a distinction between “object” and “subject” to the receivers. What is exactly education bringing on our mind and thought? We need to reconsider that if our education process used as “the exercise of domination” instead of as “the exercise of freedom”, then the ideology to change the world for mankind would be a dream forever. If education becomes the exercise of domination it will stimulates the credulity of students, with the ideological intent of indoctrinating them to adapt to the world of oppression.

And here comes the concept of consciousness that deals with the theory of education…… education as a practice of domination or as a practice of freedom. The mental state or mental process is a kind of condition or process which can be had only by thinking, feeling creatures. However the human mind is a wonderful and amazing piece of intricate machinery that has particular regard to hypnosis. Different states of mind we experienced are quite important to understand how and why hypnotherapy works. The different states of mind can be viewed as The Conscious Mind and The Subconscious Mind.

  • The Conscious Mindis the analytical and critical part of our brain that governs our awareness or consciousness at any point in time. It is the final processing point for our decisions, actions or reactions in daily life which we are aware that we are making.
  • The Subconscious Mind is the ‘deeper’ part of the mind that is responsible for processing thousands of things at any one time and for storing everything we have experienced in our lives in differing degrees of importance.

Here we are considering discovering an overview of the conscious mind. How we respond on action-reflection mechanism based on our conscious state of mind. The different level of consciousness leads us in different way of responsiveness. Considering the Freire’s point of view we can distinguishes three different levels of consciousness.

  • Magical Consciousness
    • Such people adapt themselves defenselessly and passively to the expectations of a superior force: they are not conscious of the socio-economic contradictions within this society: they accept life for what it is and don’t question injustices done to their lives. They are silent and docile.
  • Naive Consciousness
    • This involves gaining insight into and becoming aware of one’s own problems, but without making connections with the world outside- in other words individualising problems. Problems are more or less seen as coincidences, “accidents”.
  • Critical Consciousness
    • Such people stop looking at problem as mostly individual accidents but see them more as structural problems. Critical consciousness involves making connections with the socio-economic contradictions in society. It means looking at reality and recognising such contradictions as a fact.

Understanding these three different levels of consciousness is primary requirement to understand the effective process of education. Taking Freire’s concepts of literacy that enables one to read text and context, the word and the world around it, one must reflect upon today’s obsessive behavior towards mastering movements; history; rhythms; different styles. We need to design our educational process so that we can make ourselves to be critically conscious about the world and behavior. We need to be aware of what we deserve and what we are getting. Instead of depending on the super-spiritual power we should face the problem with critical consciousness of our mind.

Stay fine, stay healthy, stay beautiful …………… and keep smiling

About Md. Moulude Hossain

FinTech | Digital Payment | Product Strategy | Product Management | EMV | Business Development


5 thoughts on “The Consciousness: A Review on Freire’s Perceptions of Humankind

  1. Paulo Freire greatly emphasizes the issue of knowledge for an emancipatory perspective on education. However, I believe that along with the knowledge an emphasis on thought, affirmation of the equal capacity of all human beings need to consider as a principle of education is strengthened.

    Posted by Tamim Bin Ashfaque | October 25, 2013, 1:19 pm
  2. Education in the post-modern society has become the backbone, the foundation for the persons of that society that will one day hold the reigns. The future of humanity is closely linked to the individuals produced by education, and the methodological circumstances in which that intellectual transformation took place.

    Posted by Mohammad Rafiquzzaman | November 29, 2013, 1:10 pm
  3. Wonderful to be reminded of Friere. Matthew Crawford is trying to develop a notion of the person that is socially embedded through reflecting on skilled practice – which I guess is the result of the process of education. He writes accessibly too.

    Posted by Wahid Reza | December 28, 2013, 8:14 pm
  4. Freire s attention to naming the world has been of great significance to those educators who have traditionally worked with those who do not have a voice, and who are oppressed.

    Posted by Saima Rahman Sumi | January 9, 2014, 12:15 pm

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