Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Talking Points #7 Shor; Hyperlinks/Connections "Empowering Education"

I'm hoping I can pull this off with some hyperlinks- as it is my last format to use, but I really think it is best as connections.  I mean why else would Bogad make it our last read?  As I was reading the few first pages to the article "Empowering Education" by Ira Shor, I couldn't help but feel key points and words resonate with my personal pedagogy- or one that I am constantly striving for with my students: critical thinkers, active citizens, intellectual explorers, curiosity, why?why?why? questioning, empowerment, meaningful reflections.  To me this is what I envision learners to be.

Shor puts in simply that education is a "mass experience" involving millions of people, large amounts of money and people who strive for power over delegating what is important to teach in the curriculum and where money goes.  Shor goes on to say that the all of this energy, the mass of people who attend school, are "socialized" to go through the motions of learning, but that it is critical for our students "to question their experience in school."

Shor makes the powerful statement that: "(a) curriculum that does not challenge the standard syllabus and conditions in society informs students that knowledge and the world are fixed and are fine the way they are, with no role for students to play in transforming them, and no need for change." (12)  We don't want to create rote lessons, but rather engage our students to actually use their brains and think and question and give them the tools to become lifelong learners.  The quote continues to say that "education that tries to be neutral supports the dominant ideology in society." This screams Delpit.  Those in power have control and if we continue to teach this sort of "mass experience" than we continue to breed it.  We need to train our students to be active citizens and connect to their lessons with passion and care by asking questions.  This takes teaching beyond the surface to a more personal level, which teaching should do.  If what we teach them is important, than it gives them more of an opportunity to connect and figure how it works in their schema.  Our passions as teachers should inspire our students and ignite a flame inside them.  I have a friend who is deeply committed to the Waldorf School of Education.  I find it very enticing to go and work for a school that follows his philosophy. 
 "Waldorf or Rudolf Steiner education is a unique form of education from preschool through high school, which is based on the view that the human being is a being of body, soul and spirit.  Waldorf education was developed by Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) at the beginning of the 20th century. It is based on Steiner's broader philosophy and teachings, called anthroposophy (literally, wisdom or knowledge of man). Anthroposophy holds that the human being is fundamentally a spiritual being and that all human beings deserve respect as the embodiment of their spiritual nature. This view is carried into Waldorf            education as striving to develop in each child their innate talents and abilities.

Connecting Shor ideas to Steiner's are a few following sourced quotes by Steiner:
  • To truly know the world, look deeply within your own being; to truly know yourself, take real interest in the world.
  • Truth is a free creation of the human spirit, that never would exist at all if we did not generate it ourselves. The task of understanding is not to replicate in conceptual form something that already exists, but rather to create a wholly new realm, that together with the world given to our senses constitutes the fullness of reality.
Shor says that "all forms of education are political because they can enable or inhibit the questioning habits of students" and August furthers that we, as teachers, are "political agents."  I personally have always hated politics and prefer to live in a bubble.  I referenced this in Karp's article NWFS and again I am finding myself referencing back to it.  Not until this class did I realize that I must pop this bubble or I will continue to reinforce the dominant ideology being reinforced in my classroom.  Shor points out that I control what happens in my classroom from my decisions of: themes/subject matter, textbooks, testing policies, seating arrangements/classroom setup, rules for speaking/discourse, grading systems, learning process.

I connected Shor to Kozol several times. "Schools (...) seem to act as powerful agents in the economic and cultural reproduction of class relations (...) social and economic values, hence, are already imbedded in the design of the institutions." (13) When I read this I immediately, thought about the class choices in the high school- hair dressing and sewing, not college prep courses.  Shor also said "(S)chool funding is another political dimension of education, becuase more money ahs always been invested in the education of upper-class children and elite collegians then has been spent on students from lower-income homes."

I also connected to August on page 15 where Shor states, "(E)mpowering education (...) is a critical-demogrpahic pedgogy for self and social change. (...) the goals of this pedagogy are to relate personal growth to public life, by developing strong skills, academic power, inequality and change."

I had to put this in after our doll talk at the end of class.


  1. I like how you used the hyperlinks in the texts, that was a great way to do your blog. You are right there were a tone of connections that can be made with Shor. By the way your photo at the end was wicked cute.

  2. Nice, clear connections to Kozol...I love the pic at the end too!

  3. HAHAHA LOVE THE PICTURE AT THE END!!! Great job with your blog!! The hyperlinks were great and your connections to Kozol were very interesting.