In this blog I will be discussing the essay Empowering Education; CriticalTeaching for Social Change by Ira Shor. This essay was a long read for me. To be honest at times I was very engage and interested in the text and then there were times that some of the information was just looking like “blah, blah, blah, blah.” While reading the text I picked up on many things that made me think about the other authors our class was assigned to read their essay. In this blog I will be connecting Shor’s essay to a couple of other essays that I have read for class. In the essay, Shor wrote,
“However, it is the students who decided to what extent they will take part in the Syllabus and allow it to form them. Many students do not like the knowledge, process, or roles set out for them in class. In reaction, they drop out or withdraw into passivity or silence in the classroom. Some become self-educated; some sabotage the curriculum by misbehaving,” (Pg 14).
Here this quote reminds me of the essay I Won’t Learn From You! Thoughts on the Role of Assent Learning by Herbert Kohl. In his essay he speaks about the difference between failure and not-learning. Failure is where students do not care, they are not trying and they are not there to gain the knowledge. Kohl says, “Not-learning tends to take place when someone has to deal with unavoidable challenges to her or his personal and family loyalties, integrity, and identity.” How this ties back to Shor’s quote because Kohl goes on and talks about a student name Akmir who was a part of a militant separatist group that was an offshoot of the Nation of Islam. Akmir spent “a semester in junior high school social studies class no merely not-learning the subject but actively trying to destroy the teacher’s and text book’s credibility.” Akmir and one of his classmates challenge the teacher and curriculum and the teacher try to silence them.Another quote I pick from Shor’s essay is,
“Neither does it mean that students reinvent subject matter each time they study it or that the academic expertise of the teacher has no role in the classroom. Formal bodies of knowledge, standard usage, and the teacher’s academic background all belong in critical classrooms. As long as existing knowledge is not presented as facts and doctrines to be absorbed without question. As long as existing bodies of knowledge are critiqued and balanced from a multicultural perspective, and as long as the students own themes and idioms are valued along with standard usage, existing canons are part of critical education. What students and teachers reinvent in problem posing is their relationship to learning and authority. They redefine their relationships to each other, to education, and to expertise. They re-perceive knowledge and power. As allies for learning and for democracy in school and society, they stop being adversaries divided by unilateral authority and fixed canons.”
I connected this quote with the essay Other People’s Children; Cultural Conflict in the Classroom by Lisa Delpit. In her essay Delpit writes about the “culture of power.” There are five aspects of power and I connected Shor’s quote to her first aspect, which is
“Issues of power are enacted in classrooms. These issues include: the power of the teacher over the students; the power of the publishers of textbooks and of the developers of the curriculum to determine the view of the world presented; the power of the state in enforcing compulsory schooling; and the power of an individual or group to determine another’s intelligence or ‘normalcy.’ Finally, if schooling prepares people for jobs, and the kind of job a person has determines her or his economic status and, therefore, power, then schooling is intimately related to that power,” (Pg 24-25)I connected both of these quotes together because they both talk about understanding the authority and relationship between the teacher and student. They also talk about the importance of the context that the student is learning. What the student is learning shouldn’t only be facts or something that is lecture and should be learn. What the students learn should be carefully comprehended and students should be able to question what they are learning.