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The Power of The Construction of Knowledge

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The construction of knowledge throughout the United States has been controversial to the systematic educational principles of what we know to be learning. The concept of understanding these principles is rooted from the awareness of what position we hold as being the one who is being educated, the less knowledgeable one, per say. If we think about the depictions of those of African descent within the educational system can we conclude that they are seen as the objects of knowledge rather than the producer. Through the analysis of the pedagogy, we are able to implement factual information about African history that was incorrectly rewritten or left out of textbooks or removed from a school’s curriculum as a whole.

The deprivation of knowledge in schools is only hindering African American students that are unwillingly ignorant to their culture because of their failed educators. When you have the knowledge, you also have power and I believe that the education system was constructed for others to have supremacy over those of African descent. The knowledge I have personally gained by reading passages and analyzing the concepts in African Diaspora and the World, conflicts with any historical or global context that is coached in twelve years of basic Americanized schooling.

Through these historical pedagogies, we are finally able to uncover the truths of our African ancestors and their importance to world history. ​Based on what we truly understand about the relationship of a superior and a pupil, the underlying history behind our roles can shape our individual consciousness of tyranny and oppression. Pedagogy and the social construction of knowledge is crucial to the progression of educating students because of the in-depth concepts that are discussed and the sense of realization that students feel from the lesson even after they leave the classroom. According to the author Paulo Freire, “In the banking concept of education, knowledge is a gift bestowed by those who consider themselves knowledgeable upon those whom they consider knowing nothing.

Projecting an absolute ignorance onto others, a characteristic of the ideology of oppression negates education and knowledge as processes of inquiry”. This is evident in the text Pedagogy of the Oppressed, ​as Freire provides an example of the teacher-student relationship that holds true in schools across the country. This is a common approach in the banking education system which is described as dehumanizing and belittling to the students who view their instructors as someone they should be able to trust, and not be taken advantage of because of their authoritative role.​ ​The banking method can subtly include censorship since much of what is taught is controlled by the teacher. Said teacher, has full discretion over what is taught and the details and parameters surrounding that information. This is similar to how slave owners attempted to contain slaves. Slave owners acted as authoritative figures while slaves were forced to act as obedient students. This method also hinders students from being critical thinkers and thinking outside of the box. Freire expresses that learning and teaching should be a two-way street between students and their instructors. Students should not only be learning but should behave a lasting impact on teachers so that they can learn from them as well. This reflects on problem posing, another system of education expressed by Freire. Problem posing is completely different from the banking method, as it gives students the opportunity to think and speak freely. “Whereas banking education anesthetizes and inhibits creative power, problem-posing education involves a constant unveiling of reality”. In this educational system, students are encouraged to form opinions that are different from the instructor and not feel uncomfortable or that there are limits or constraints in debatable dialogue within the classroom.

Merle Collins’s poem “ ​Crick Crack​”, is an example of a raw and uncut analysis of colonialism that tiptoes between fact vs fiction. ​Crick Crack ​challenges how we differentiate the story that was told from our reality. Collins states in the poem, “ Tales of hunting will always glorify the hunter”. Christopher Columbus is an exemplar of such a hunter as his story is conveyed to students around the world as the man who discovered the Americas in 1492. I later learned that information was not correct as Natives had already taken over the land. This is an example of how an approach of history can determine how it’s conveyed. This can also go cohesively connect with the notion of the banking system as students are censored with information that teachers or schools don’t care to educate their students on, even if it includes vital information about the history and achievements of their own descent. The majority of students are taught about slavery through the perspective of a one-way trip from Africa to North America. However, many do not know how South American and Caribbean countries were involved. Students are expected to just listen and never ask what is fact and what is reality. The students are simply supposed to repeat what they are taught with no full understanding.

Ruth Hubbard’s ​Fact Making and Feminism​ emphasized the concept of gathering factual information from a general group of people who are predominantly white men, educated, and economically sound; this concept is called social enterprise. Those who didn’t fit into this socially modernized box, were minorities, impoverished people, and women. As a result, those men had power over everyone else, due to their educational backgrounds and the simple fact that they were white and male. Society is controlled by this patriarchal system which is why minorities and women struggle to get their foot in the door. White men were able to make up “factual” information about women or blacks as a way of domination and control. However, we can pose the question of what makes the cut as to what is and what is not a fact. Another question that can be posed is what kind of facts are these men in power putting forward? I believe that this grey area between what they want to portray us ( blacks, women, impoverished) as and what we are actually are deemed to be. I feel that this is another way to shut us out from information from the outside world and to keep us under oppression, by being uninformed.

The power of the construction of knowledge has been underestimated throughout time. This power has shaped society to be what it is today, and only now is the status quo being challenged. History has and will continue to shape how the non-beneficiaries of the white patriarchy, view oppression and tyranny. The work by Ruth Hubbard addressed social enterprise and how marginalized groups are often left out. Merle Collins’s poem works off fact and reality. 

The methods of teaching, such as banking and problem-posing, have the potential to make someone ignorant or knowledgeable. Much of the minority population doesn’t even know they’re oppressed because of what they were taught. That relationship of student and pupil and the use of the banking method combine to make it so students can’t formulate their own thoughts and questions. However, when students are allowed to think outside the box and seek the truth, they are able to find factual information about history that is not in textbooks or is removed from the school curriculum. Again, the power of the construction of knowledge is underestimated, but specifically by minorities. That is how the white patriarchy has gained and maintained so much power.

Work Cited

  1. Freire, Paulo, 1921-1997. Pedagogy Of the Oppressed. New York :Continuum, 2000. Print. 
  2. Collins , Merle. “Crick Crack .” 1988.
  3. Ruth, Hubbard (1988). Science, Facts, and Feminism. Hypatia 3 (1):5-17.

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