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Beginnings, Fall 2010

Essay #1 Assignment: Analyzing a Learning Experience


Write a 3 to 5 page essay in which you use Freire’s model of “banking education” or “liberating education” to analyze an educational experience of your own. (Alternatively, you may use an example from the Mike Rose or bell hooks reading to analyze with Freire’s model.)
In this essay you will use Freire’s model of education to examine at something in your own life. Test Freire’s theory against reality. Consider your encounters with “banking” or “liberating” education. Did they have the effects on you that Freire predicts? (Alternatively, do the same with an example from Rose or hooks.)
You’ll need to have a clear sense of what Freire means by one of these ideas: banking education and liberating education, which he also calls problem-posing education. Focus on one or the other. Choose a specific example of this type of education to write about. Make this very narrow: one specific teacher or class or lesson – in your life (or as described in the other text).
This essay will have a thesis, an assertion that includes both a reference to Freire’s model and to the experience you chose. The thesis is your controlling idea; it appears in the introduction, and everything in the essay should support it. It will connect Freire’s ideas to the example you choose. Your thesis might be in agreement with Freire’s own ideas, or not. It should be clear, bold, interesting, and supportable. It might or might not be debatable. Examples:

  • In the “1984” program at Evergreen I experienced the power of liberating education to engage students as co-creators of the class.

  • Mike Rose’s experience in vocational education demonstrates how banking education actually discourages students from learning.

  • Mr. Spica’s science class used some banking education methods, but the effect was liberating because of his respect for students.

  • Bell hooks’ account of teaching women’s studies shows the challenges that teachers face when using problem-posing education in a culturally diverse classroom.

Due Dates

Rough draft: Wed, Oct. 13. Bring 4 copies of your typed rough draft for group work.

Revised draft: Monday, Oct 18.

Final: Monday, October 25.

Final only: include one copy of each draft (rough, revised, final) in the 2-pocket folder. Drafts with notes and comments (your own, from your peers, or from your teacher) are best.

Format: Follow the guidelines in the class syllabus.

Writing about Texts: PIE Structure

For this essay you’ll need to write about at least one text. You’ll quote, paraphrase, summarize, and analyze what Freire says, and we’ll practice all these skills. You’ll need to use evidence from the text itself to show what the author means and why it’s important. (If you analyze Rose’s or hooks’ experience with Freire’s model, you’ll need to discuss those texts as well.)

The PIE structure allows you to discuss a text and relate it clearly to your thesis. We’ll talk about it and practice it throughout the quarter. Briefly, the parts of the paragraph are:

  • Point: A one or two sentence statement of how the evidence relates to the thesis.

  • Illustration: A quotation, a paraphrase, a summary, or some combination of these. What’s in the text, your evidence or data.

  • Explanation: Your discussion and analysis of how the illustration supports and connects to your thesis. Look at details, particular words, explain why it matters, answer “so what.” Explanation should be the LONGEST part of each paragraph.

Writing about Life – Narrative

To write about an event in your life, use narrative details to describe the setting and characters. Concrete, sensory details help bring the scene to life – use sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. Use dialogue to show what people said. Direct dialogue (Susie said, “Are you all ready to take over the class?”) can be more alive than indirect dialogue (Susie asked us if we were ready to take over). Both sensory description and dialogue are examples of exterior.

You’ll also include what you experienced inwardly – interior. Thoughts, emotions, and sensations of the body give depth to the story and help the reader empathize. Sensory details bring these feelings to life: my palms were sweating and I felt a chill down my back is more effective than I was scared.
If you don’t remember exact details of the past, you can invent. For example, if you don’t remember the exact words, you can make up words that capture the feeling of that moment. If the dialogue happened in a language other than English, translate.

Each text you use must be cited properly, both in the text and at the end of the essay in a Works Cited listing. We’ll talk about and practice these skills. Each text should be:

  1. Introduced briefly. Example: In Lives on the Boundary, educator Mike Rose recalls…

  2. Cited in-text using MLA style, as for seminar papers. Example: Freire argues, “.…” (23).

  3. Listed in Works Cited, in alphabetical order. Example:

Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum, 2004.
Parts of the Essay

  • Title: a unique short title to capture your main idea.

  • Introduction: Engage your reader. Introduce your main idea, the text(s) you are using, the experience you are writing about. One paragraph.

  • Body paragraphs: Use PIE structure to write about texts, and narrative details to write about life. Each paragraph should support your thesis directly. Shorter, focused paragraphs are better than long complicated ones. Provide logical transitions between ideas. Five to eight paragraphs.

  • Conclusion: Consider the big picture. You might reflect on how Freire’s ideas have changed your understanding of this experience. Or say what you’ve learned from writing the paper. Or show why Freire’s ideas are important in the world we live in. End with a strong idea that will be memorable to your reader. (One or two paragraphs).

Evaluation Criteria

This essay will be graded and is worth approximately 15% of your final grade.

  • Does the essay meet the requirements of the assignment as described here?

  • Is the thesis clear, bold, interesting, arguable, and effective?

  • Does every part of the essay support the thesis?

  • Does the introduction set up your argument and introduce the texts?

  • Does the essay use PIE structure where appropriate?

  • Does the essay use narrative details where appropriate?

  • Are paragraphs clearly focused, with logical transitions between ideas?

  • Does the conclusion show why these ideas are important or what you’ve learned?

  • Are texts used properly cited both in-text and at the end of the essay?

  • Has the essay been carefully edited for spelling, punctuation, and other mechanics?

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