In their IAS courses, students frequently encounter the classic Paolo Freire essay, “The Banking Concept of Education.” The essay is famous for its critique a pedagogical tradition that imagines students as empty vessels—or piggy banks— into which the teacher “deposits” gems of knowledge.
For Freire, the problem with the banking approach to education is that it ignores— even erases—students’ pre-existing knowledge as a valuable resource for understanding and analyzing the world. Freire portrays this approach as not only ineffective, but also violent and de-humanizing.
For IAS, the essay is seminal because it underlines the importance of educational practices that link learning in the classroom to the world beyond the classroom. We call the resulting dialogue between students’ lived experiences and classroom reflection “connected learning.” I think of it as a re-humanizing form of educational practice.
This issue of Intersections explores the profound and transformational discoveries that happen when students and educators engage materially with family stories and community histories. This type of learning forges connections and understandings across space and time, reinterpreting past, present, and future.
In the faculty story, Professor Raisa DeSmet describes why material artifacts invite knowing that is BOTH historical, cultural, and social AND personal, emotional and intimate. She structures her courses to ensure that these two registers are always in play simultaneously.
In the student feature, we see an exhibit of some of the curatorial and interpretive work DeSmet’s students did as part of their Museum Cultures class, and get their take on how their research helped them deepen understanding of their family journeys, choices, and histories.
The alumni story follows the work that Randizia Crisostomo (Cultural Studies, ’19) as it evolved across museum, university, and community spaces through an inquiry group and methodology they called “Research Family.” As a cultural studies scholar and outreach coordinator for the Burke Museum, Crisostomo centers the reciprocal, relational values of “Research Family” in the work of transforming educational institutions.
As always, you can learn more about what students, faculty, and alumni are doing on the IAS News Blog. To keep up to date on IAS events open to the campus and the public, you can also subscribe to a weekly digest of upcoming events. If you are an IAS alum, discover ways to connect and get involved by visiting our alumni page online.
Past issues of Intersections are accessible from the right sidebar here.
Feel free to send comments on these stories or ideas for others to IASinfo@uw.edu.
Dean, School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences