Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Midwives vs Bankers

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I fell in love with this quote from Women’s Ways of Knowing by Belenkey et al. I have read parts of this book and own it but have never read it in its entirety…and am reading parts now as I write up something building on its ideas. This quote struck me:

Midwife-teachers are the opposite of banker-teachers. While the bankers deposit knowledge in the learner’s head, the midwives draw it out. They assist the students in giving birth to their own ideas, in making their own tacit knowledge explicit and elaborating it.

Midwives are always women, right? So it’s a really complex metaphor. Because the midwife never believes she has anything but support to offer..she believes in the woman’s own ability and what she has to give (the child to give birth to) and that she can support but the woman has to be the one to do the thing.

Banking as a metaphor confuses me though. I am used to Freire’s notion of banking education…but bankers, per se, do not really deposit things. The clients are the ones who deposit in the bank or withdraw from the bank. The banker is just a middle person between the money and the client, whether they want to deposit or withdraw…right? So my thinking of the banker is that they are a gatekeeper between money and client, but they do not really transform or support that transaction much (well, except when there is interest rate involved and as such, the banker works to increase the value of our money without any effort on our side, or if we are borrowing, the banker asks us to return money at a higher value without any effort on their side..all of which is so different from midwivery where the relationship involves effort from both sides for an agreed upon outcome.

I may be misunderstanding the banking role and overthinking the metaphor. But I am so in love with the midwife metaphor 🙂

2 Comments

  1. Could it also be the Banker as Investor–that is a banker (and as a balance and also indicator of how we think of bankers, I’ll use male-pronouns) loans out his knowledge (e.g. mortgages) in the belief that the student will be a good investment of HIS time. The end result is a student with the knowledge (owning a house) and being indebted to the banker? It’s one that puts the emphasis on the banker instead of the student.

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