Sunday, November 30, 2014

Empowering Education--Shor

Ira Shor penned an interesting read this week which talks about the reasoning behind going to school, and why children should question this reasoning. Shor, who himself grew up in the Bronx, has made his upbringing from a working class family a huge component in everything that he writes. In terms of "Empowering Education", Shor attempts to establish a point of being able to question the education you receive, and why you are forced to receive it. The National Writing Post summarized the book as such: "Empowering Education by Ira Shor, which conveys the notion of knowledge not as a commodity to impose on students but rather as a problem posed to them for mutual inquiry toward social change. To empower students, Shor offers a methodology using problem posing, "desocialization," and dialogue in classes that are student centered but not permissive or self-centered. He refers to Paulo Freire's pedagogy with students in Brazil, and his own work with students at the City University of New York."
This comes to bring up some good points, namely, education being viewed as a commodity.
We have to understand that education is a service that is offered to help enhance the knowledge children receive, and to bring about new concepts or ideas they may not have known. This idea of stepping into the unknown is what should be questioned. Shor states on page 12: "In a curriculum that encourages student questioning, the teacher avoids a unilateral transfer of knowledge." I think this is huge, because I feel as though a lot of the curriculum established today does not include these types of methods. Many teachers can teach the same course to four different classes and repeat the same thing over and over again, but that is boring! There needs to be some sense of diversity to allow the students to think critically and question why they have to. I think in today's school environment, too many teachers, parents and administrators teach students to believe that teacher's word is law. They have taught them 1-5 of Delpit's rules and codes of power, which in itself it certainly admirable, but does not allow for these kids to challenge these rules! Recently in FNED, we were given a quiz on a reading from a previous week, and the quiz was so simple, our professor was surprised when we did not question her giving us this. We all fell into this trap that we are expected to do what we are told to do. Now, this is not to say that we must dispute every exam given by every teacher, but we should not be afraid to question their thoughts or concede that we have a different idea. It is such a fine line that one must walk upon, because the student has the chance of facing a hefty consequence for taking this risk. But taking this risk is empowering and enriching the educational process! It should be more of an open discussion with a facilitator rather than students listening to what a teacher says and going by that at all times. Every student is intelligent with some sense of rebellion inside of them. Again, I am not saying to be Braveheart and fight to have an education that stands alone from the other versions, but do challenge the thoughts of your peers and teachers! Even if what you say is wrong, you can find out why it is wrong and why they are right. Students shouldn't dread coming to school. Winston Churchill  once said: "I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught." It is time for a change; for the betterment of schooling, education and the students themselves. There will be a difference if someone tries.


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