Technology has become an essential part of the curricula of every school across the United States. In many schools, almost every aspect of education has been digitized – grade books are online systems, lessons are created on the computer and delivered via powerpoint, homework and supplemental exercises are completed on websites, Other classrooms are filled floor to ceiling with tech–interactive whiteboards, tablets, and laptops, used in day to day activities. However, as digital media and technology proliferate, it is vital to consider the question of access. Access can mean physical availabilities of media, which is determined by things like use of technology in the home and quality of schools, but it also must take into account a student’s ability to use the technology, which can be shaped by amount of media literacy and previous exposure to technology. Both aspects of access are determined in part by race and socio-economic status.
Failing to consider questions of access causes education systems can become oppressive and a reflection of white supremacy. Paulo Freire explores these concepts in his work Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Freire contrasts this “banking” method with a “problem-posing” method of education. In the latter, the dichotomy of the teacher-student roles are up-ended, essentially, both parties assume both roles, the teacher and student teaching and learning with one another. Freire sums this method up saying “Whereas banking education anesthetizes and inhibits creative power, problem-posing education involves a constant unveiling of reality. The former attempts to maintain the submersion of consciousness; the latter strives for the emergence of consciousness and critical intervention in reality” (81). By presenting information fully in context, and addressing problems and creating solutions, education is suddenly relevant; meaningful and fulfilling to the student. This model is incredibly important in present society, where schools are too often another means of oppression that uplifts privileged students and leaves behind those who are disadvantaged. Instead, problem-posing education fully involves every student. While memorization of simple facts may only feel relevant to a select few students, critical analysis of one’s world and one’s own existence is universal. This method is also the only hope for liberation. An oppressed person will struggle to move towards liberation until they have a true understanding of their character, specifically the duality that comes with being oppressed. Traditional styles of education give students neither the means nor the motivation to reflect inward and discover the internalization of oppression. They also almost never consider the structures of oppression that govern our world, nor question institutions such as capitalism or the flaws in our democracy. They maintain these standards, instead placing the blame for oppression on the oppressed. The method Freire suggests, however, has no need to uphold these hierarchies without question, because unlike some current methods, it is not itself just an extension of oppression. Instead, “In problem-posing education, people develop their power to perceive critically the way they exist in the world with which and in which they find themselves; they come to see the world not as a static reality, but as a reality in process, in transformation” (83). Students and teachers alike have freedom, freedom to question and transform their realities. Freire’s concepts can be related directly to media access through….