Sunday, April 19, 2015

Shor, "Empowering Education"


"People are naturally curious. They are born leaders. Education can either develop or stifle their inclination to ask why and to learn" ( 12).

I couldn't agree more with this quote. It is our job as teachers to embrace our students natural curiosity and to satisfy it. We as teachers are the ones who, more or less, determine how curious our students are down the line. If a student loves to ask questions and know about everything in elementary school, but he has a teacher who is simply there just to teach the information and nothing else, and get mad when a student asks a deeper question, then he is going to remember that for as long as he is in a classroom. They might decide that college isn't for him, based solely on his education experiences growing up. On the other hand, if the student is always asking questions, and he is getting lots of feedback, he might realize that he loves learning. Personally, I think that is one of the most important roles that we play as teachers. 

"Through these practical choices, the politics of the classroom are defined, as critical or uncritical, democratic or authoritarian" (14).

Lisa Delpit, and the culture of power say pretty much the same thing. Whether these decisions and choices are good or bad, is irrelevant. The making of the choice, is what it so important. By making those choices, the rules inside the particular culture of power are made. Those who are inside the culture of power are expected to follow the rules. Now, the more well defined the rules are, and how well the choices are made, influences how well the students behave inside the culture of power. If the rules are explicitly defined, then the students will follow them. A really good example of this is the student who isn't doing what he is told, but the reason he never stopped is because the teacher never said "Stop what you're doing, and do this instead", they said "Is it really time to do that?". The student might be confused, but they would never think they were doing something wrong because all they got asked was if it was time to be doing that. 

"Are students asked to think critically about the material and to see knowledge as a field of contending interpretations, or are they fed knowledge as an official consensus?"  (15)

Reading this, I couldn't help but think of the activity we did in class where we were given a worksheet on the article and told to find the answers, based on "tracking" and "literacy with an attitude". I can definitely see a connection to Finn and Oakes here. I think this is a huge issue in schools today, because some schools do a lot of critical thinking about the material in the classroom and told to offer their opinions about things rather than simply stating some facts, but a lot of schools still just are given questions where all they need are to put the facts. It isn't a matter of which education is better at which school, because the material being taught could very well be the same across the board. It is just a question of how we are measuring the knowledge of our students. Does asking them questions like "what is the authors name?" give them the same level of understanding as "what was the authors message while writing this piece, and what makes you think that? 

"School funding is another political dimension of education, because more money has always been invested in the education of upper class children and elite collegians than has been spent on students from lower income homes and in community colleges"(15). 

I think this is huge issue, especially today. With the new PARCC testing being rolled out into the Rhode Island schools this past year, and with participation tied directly to how much funding they are eligible to get, it is so important to talk about this topic, but nobody seems to be doing any talking about it. Another example of this would be the fact that starting soon, Rhode Island College will get a large portion, if not all, of its state funding based on its 4 year graduation rate. The more students we have that graduate in 4 years, the more money we will get from the state, and tuition will stay down. The less amount of students that graduate in 4 years, the less money we will get from the state, and the only way to compensate for that is by increasing tuition. This seems a little counter-intuitive to me, because if you want to increase 4 year graduation rates, wouldn't you want to first lower tuition so that more students would be able to attend, and be able to take more classes at a time so they will get out of here in 4 years? If that happens, then the 4 year rate would go up and we would get the funding anyway...I see a connection to Johnson here because nobody seems to be talking about this issue, either because they don't want to , or because they don't know how to go about it. "It's like our collective house is burning down and everybody is tiptoeing around afraid to say 'fire'"(15).

 Talking Point: Really interesting video about Urban Education and Empowerment of our students by Christopher Emdin


  1. Great post as always, Josh. The third quote you chose and your comments about it are especially interesting to me. I agree, there are a great deal of schools that simply expect their students to do work that resembles the worksheet we did in class the other week. That type of work is mundane, boring, and does not promote effective learning. It simply serves as a way to continue to track students. It's certainly something that I hope changes for our generation's children.

  2. Josh, I really liked all of your quotes that you chose they were really powerful and I thought I did it and overall great summary of the main points of this reading. I think you did a really good job stating your points on each subject and connecting them to other points in class that we talked about. Awesome job!

  3. Josh, you did a fantastic job! I did an extended comment based on your blog :)