Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ira Shor ...Arguments

Ira Shor , the author of the book entitled Empowering Education, examines the current education system in the United States. The book was written in 1992, yet almost twenty years later it seems the points made are still prevalent to today’s current educational state. Similar to Delpit and Rodrigguez,  other authors works we have examined in class,  Shor suspects that the outcome of a student’s education, and overall success depends on a number of prompts, yet one in particular. That one being, precisely associated with how a student interacts as a citizen within a society is relates to how that student views the power and provleged culture that surrounds them,
A professor at the City University of New York, where he teaches composition and rhetoric, Shor grew up in the South Bronx area of NY. From interviews with fans, and sometimes critics Shor has expressed that  "coming from a working class area had a powerful influence on his thinking, politics and feelings”. Maybe that will explain his sort of negative attitudes I am about to discuss towards the school systems below.
Throughout his first chapter of the book Shor introduces the readers to adopt the idea he believes, which is that "education is politics". He believes that even though teachers may feel that the current curriculum is politically neutral , it is not at all.  HE goes on to further explain that no curriculum can ever be neutral , because of the simple fact that all forms of education are political no matter what the teachers can do.
Why does shore feel this way? He feels that the contents in which educators come to a decision in making what will be included and excluded within the curriculum alone are huge political choices they are making for their students. That teacher, Shore explains, plays such an extremely vital part in being the mediator between the relationships of students and outside authorities, and even formal knowledge. So, by teachers not allowing the relationship to build between those internal and external factors of their students outside world, they are only hindering their students’ abilities to fully capitalize on their goals for the future.
Shore also points out the fact that students are pretty much encouraged not to raise questions towards the “status quo”, which is a huge issue. The reason being that naturally for the most part everybody is a curious being. It may drive parents or older siblings crazy when somebody younger than them continuously asks the question “why?”, but it just comes to show you that as humans we are curious and always eager to learn the answers. In a curriculum that does not encourage this type of questioning for its students, the teacher according to Shor is not allowing the action of unilateral transfer of knowledge. ..So why do students need a unilateral transfer of knowledge in order to be successful in the class room and outside of it?  In this case the unilateral transport of knowledge would either be from the teacher explaining to the student the answer to their question , or the teacher allowing outside influences who have also question he status quo aid in helping the students mold their own ideas on particular topics---unilateral transfer--from the expert to the less experienced.. Encouraging students to question is essential for critical knowledge transfer… Makes sense!

When educators are aware that the empowerment of education is critical for self and social change this will begin to work for the betterment of our nation as a whole.  By understanding and bringing in a need for openness educators are able to teach their students about self centered empowerment as well as more advanced knowledge as well. When a student feels that their voice is heard, and they have the right to question why things are working a certain way, or why things in the past were done particular ways, they themselves begin to believe that their voice is important. Those dreams don’t just die, because they accept that no matter what they do won’t be heard, and “this is just the way things are and always have been.”

Now what??
“A door to empowerment Participation.” Shore argues that a classroom (like Zekes in the previous blog I spoke about), that is open to participatory openness “free and democratic” is probably the first main change that needs to occur.  With an environment where students feel comfortable to not be judged, and question things they have questions about, this also brings up shores next now what point. The point that educators need to make their curriculum encompass all types of emotions, not just the happy ones. “The denial of positive feelings begins in traditional curriculum, not in critical programs oriented for empowerment.”pg 26. Essentially the point that Shor is trying to convey in this material I feel is, something needs to be done with this very square curriculum that is being taught to Americas youth. They are simply having unquestioned knowledge poured into their heads, and they are taught to just accept it for what it is, and accept the fact that the power culture has already done all of the “ bigger and better things” before they got to it. There is no more room for students to dream, and aspire, but rather they are to sit there and pass their standardized tests and move on to the next grade. Education needs to provide incentives, incentives for its students to want to strive towards their best, question what they desire, and attain their toughest goals.

Overall….Nice read, I really liked this piece.


  1. Great job on your blog!! I like how you broke your blog up into what, why, when and now what sections. It was easy to read and very informative!!

  2. I never got to look at your blog, so I'm doing it now :) Nice work, especially since this is your first EDU class. You made some really nice points on your blog and in class. I also love the way you organized this posting! Have a good summer!