Container Class

Paulo Freire once wrote: “Education is suffering from narration sickness.”

We’ve become so accustomed to the standard form of education that this quote doesn’t mean very much until we really think about it. What he means is that education full of simple narration – teachers talking at students, rarely including interaction or activity. By saying this, he is critiquing the solely lecture style of teaching that is not only common in college or high school classrooms, but is becoming more and more prevalent in lower grades as well.

So why is my post called container class? Container is how Freire refers to the students who are subjects of this narration sickness. Teachers are assessed based on how much they fill their containers (students) with knowledge that they are told to teach them. The system is very one-sided and detached, but also unfortunately a fairly accurate way to describe many classrooms. What came to mind when I was reading this was something we studied in our very last class: scripted curriculum. We discussed the diversity of students and the need for adaptability and collaboration in the classroom; these are all things that scripted curriculum completely avoids. It may create an across-the-board standard for education, but it takes away the relationships in the classroom. Instead of teacher teaching student, it can easily become teacher filling container with information. Scripted curriculum isn’t the only way this narration sickness plays out but it is probably the most extreme. Narration sickness and container students can simply serve as a constant reminder to keep the adaptability and collaboration in the classroom.

Why is this so important? In my life, my relationships with my teachers have been some of the most important and have shaped my plans for the rest of my life. These relationships were created both out of the academic context, as well as them working with me personally IN the academic context. I think this is one of the most important parts of education and something that would be a much lower priority for teachers with this scripted curriculum and high stakes testing.

Another thing that I believe is one of the most important goals and reasons for education is to prepare children and young adult for any challenges in their lives or in the world. The world is growing and changing, just like the people in it, and education helps them to keep up and be able to respond and help our ever-changing society to progress. They should be able to respond to problems and hopefully move forward as a generation. Education should revolve around responding to problems of people. Paulo Freire puts it this way: “The more completely they accept the passive role imposed on them, the more they tend simply to adapt to the world as it is and to the fragmented view of reality deposited in them.”

Why would we want our generation and the generations after us to adapt to the world when they could expand it. With each new generation comes new technology and advances and teachers have the privilege of leading their students to this challenge. One of the priorities in education should be to make sure it is a not a static set of information, but a never ending process that grows and changes with the teachers and students who engage in it.


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7 Responses to Container Class

  1. Chad Waldron says:

    This is a perfect example of Freire’s work in today’s classroom! Hailey, you get to the heart of how systems (i.e. schools; districts) can sometimes misinterpret laws and legislation into a scripted curriculum. It can become container like and very one-sided. I found your response thoughtful and thorough in a troublesome issue for teachers in many schools and school districts, as they work to negotiate the complexity of required curricula and instructional requirements.


  2. cerouse2015 says:

    This post really seems to hit on the issue that schools, especially elementary schools, need to have adaptability. I also believe that it is important to deviate from these narrations because schools should also provide a more holistic learning. Students are expected to learn things such as communication skills, cooperation skills and flexibility while in school. Yet, these container classrooms appear to jeopardize this type of learning.


  3. Pingback: Success With the Multi-Authored Blog | Confessions of a Bored Academic

  4. Casper Rhay says:

    Hi Hailey! Where did you learn about Freire?/What text/work are you quoting from? I’m interested! 🙂


  5. Pingback: Success With the Multi-Authored Blog – Teaching Academia

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