Saturday, April 19, 2014

Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change


          For my final blog post I felt like a connections post would be appropriate just to tie everything together from all that we have learned over the semester. This article "Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change" by Ira Shor had similar thoughts to authors like Johnson and Kohn. The part that interested me the most was the many different aspects of participation in the classroom for students and teachers, and the relationships that form between students with other students and students with teachers. I can say for a fact that when we first started our service learning projects we were all worried about if the students were going to like us or not, and as time went on it got easier and now we don't want to leave. 

          Right from the beginning Shor references Bettelheim's perspective on whether kids should question why they have to go to school. He thought that socialization was the most import thing a teacher could teach a student, he also urged to teachers to encourage students to question their school experience. "A school year that begins by questioning school could be a remarkably democratic and critical learning experience for students" (Shor 1). This would build the trust between a teacher and their students. Johnson would say that this is great because they are talking about the issues of privilege, power and difference and as a result they create a more just and respectful world. 
          Some other writers that Shor references are Sapon-Shevin and Schniedewind who talk about the cognitive impact of competition that can go on in a classroom that the teacher has to facilitate in order for it to occur. For example star charts showing that certain students have mastered multiplying by 2's, or only having the work of the students who have neat handwriting and perfect papers hung up around the classroom. Kohn would say those are some "reasons to worry" because they only highlight the good kids in the class not the class as a whole, and in doing so it discourages those kids who don't have a star next to their name or their paper hung up. Kohn also believes that the climate, curriculum, and pedagogy issues contribute to engagement and learning within the classroom, much like Shor. 
          Just as a side note this quote reminded me of something we had talked about in class, "The authoritarian traditional curriculum itself generates bad feelings which leads many students to resist or sabotage the lessons" (24). This reminded me of when Dr. Bogad said that it is easier for a kid to see themselves as a behavioral problem than the "stupid" one in the class. I see this a lot in the classroom that I do my service learning in because if they aren't seeing their papers hung on the walls and the teacher always has to report them to the principal, they aren't going to have any confidence in their ability to do the school work, so they act out. 

          Shor was very informative in a way when he talks about participation being a very important part of a students experience in school. If a student doesn't share their opinions they will go unsaid and that will only hurt them in the long run. This article as a whole was very informative on what a productive classroom can be, it wrapped all of our articles that we have read over the semester into one. I have learned so much through these articles and it has been really fun creating this blog.

"Education is more than facts and skills. It is a socializing experience that helps the people who make society" (Shor 15).


  1. Really great job! I love the quotes you chose to expand on :)

  2. Mariah, This was an excellent post. You did put it all together. I have been in 3 different schools this semester and can tell some pretty shocking stories as well as some awesome ones supporting everything you have pointed out here. And the last quote. . . if you look at little kids you can always tell the ones that are around other kids at an early age, because they have learned the basics of sharing and respect. I wish you great success. And will miss you.

  3. hey mariah! great post this week, we were able to make some similar connections to the article this week. Its been great being in class with you!