Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Quotes from Shor

Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change
Ira Shor 
  • A Curriculum that avoids questioning school and society is not, as is commonly supposed, politically neutral. It cuts off the students’ development as critical thinkers.”p. 12 
This quote explains the main message of Shor’s article. In this statement, Shor is explaining that education is a political entity and educators need to be aware of it. He cautions that if we chose to ignore the political aspects then we are doing a disservice to our students because they will become robots who do not challenge the world that they live in. Using this statement as a catalyst the rest of the article discusses how to make students critical thinkers. 
  • When we participate in critical classes, we can go beyond merely repeating what we know or what we have been taught. We can reflect on reality and on our received values, words, and interpretations in ways that illuminate meaning we haven’t perceived before. This reflection can transform our thoughts and behavior, which in turn have the power to alter reality itself if enough people reconstruct their knowledge and take action.” p. 22  
In this statement, Shor is validating his claim that teachers need to make their students critical thinkers and questioners of society. This quote explains what it means to be a critical thinker and the importance of reflecting. I found this statement to be a bit ironic, in that, in teaching training we are constantly told that we need to be reflective practitioners. However, Shor is saying we do not allow our students the same freedoms. The final sentence describes the results of students becoming critical thinkers; they can promote change in the society because they are not just following the “status quo”. This statement seems to me what Shor wants teachers to strive to make their students become; the end product democratic education (August). 
  • Situated, multicultural pedagogy increases the chance that students will feel ownership in their education and reduces the conditions that produce their alienation.” p.51 
In order to have all children succeed in becoming critical thinkers, teachers have to be cognizant of the diversity in their classrooms. Not only do they need to be aware of it but they also need to create a pedagogy around this diversity. Teachers need to include these students’ experiences (background knowledge), languages, culture and other aspects that shape who they are, into a curriculum that fosters critical thinking and questioning. If this is done successfully then Shor believes that these students will then become part of the classroom and not feel alienated, which can lead to resistance. Shor places a lot of emphasis on the diversity piece. He wants the reader to realize that it is imperative that we include these non-dominant groups in this critical thinking process so they too can fight the status quo.

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