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Nancy Cao
Professor Masulit
Ethnic Studies 21
9 October 2016
Thematic Reflection #2
The readings from theme two discussed knowledge, power, and representation.
Throughout theme two, some ideas that resonated with me deeply were banking systems, how
knowledge is socially and politically constructed, and the difference between school and
education. In Paolo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed, he explains how the traditional school
system is using the banking system, which is "the idea that students are viewed as empty
containers into which educators must deposit knowledge" (Lecture, October 5th). This resonated
with me because it is true; the traditional school system feeds the students information and use
exams and quizzes to test their intelligence. The banking system suggests that intelligence is
based on how much a person can remember instead of how well a person understands a subject. I
disagree with the banking system because I do not believe intelligence is based on memory;
intelligence is based on how well you comprehend and apply the knowledge. Also, the banking
system "reinforces oppressive relationships by viewing learners as less than" (Lecture, October
5th). This is true because throughout my education, I always felt that there was a hierarchy in my
classes. The teacher is the all-knowing, most intelligent person and the student is the ignorant,
clueless person. The banking system is a flawed method that is outdated and must be changed
into a more interactive method so students can understand the material and participate more.
In our society, who is able to access knowledge depends on where one stands socially and
politically. In one of my class discussions I stated that the way you are educated depends on

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where you live. For instance, if a person lives in a low-income neighborhood, the quality of
education is poor, and as a result, students value education less and do not do as well in school.
On the other hand, if a person lives in a wealthy neighborhood, the quality of education is a lot
better and students are more motivated to do well in school (Class Discussion, October 3rd).
Knowledge is socially and politically constructed by our government; the government creates
these standards for education but distributes the quality of it differently. The rich are able to
afford a better education and in return their children can continue onto higher education and
remain wealthy for generations. The low-income families receive a mediocre education and
remain in the low-income bracket. I believe that this is all constructed by the government; the
wealthy are able to remain wealthy while the poor stay within their lane and are not able to
achieve and strive for more. This idea resonated with me because this system was created to
benefit the wealthy and oppress the low-income communities, and it purposefully makes it
difficult for underprivileged students to break this ceiling.
School and education have similar qualities, but in reality the two words mean very
different things. In class we were asked, "Compare and contrast these two words. What
do they have in common? How are they different?" (Lecture, October 3rd). Many people came to
the conclusion that school is an institution, and education is the experience and intelligence
gained by learning. During a discussion, a student used "Saved" by Malcolm X as an example to
explain how school was different from education. Malcolm X was able to educate himself in
prison by reading a dictionary, and later moving onto books about his ethnic background and
religion (Class Discussion, October 3rd). He became very articulate and knowledgeable after
reading books. This disproves the traditional thought that people who do not go to school are
uneducated and ignorant. Malcolm X's story proves that people do not need to go to school to be

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considered educated and intelligent. This resonated with me deeply because I agree that school
and education are very different in definition. My mother grew up in Vietnam and stopped going
to school by the seventh grade. Later, she came to America and a couple years later she was able
to start her own business. She did not complete the traditional school K-12 system, but she was
able to own and run her business. My mom did not need to go through this system to be a
successful business woman; she was already educated and intelligent in her own way. Overall,
the assumption that people need to go through school in order to be intelligent, knowledgeable,
and successful is not true; a person can be intelligent and knowledgeable in other ways than one.