This last reading entitled Empowering Education by Ira Shor was an excellent way to relate most of the articles we have read thus far in FNED 502. Throughout the reading, I was able to make connections to Delpit, Allen, Kozol, Finn, and August. Shor’s argument supported the fact that education in the world today is too focused on retelling information and expecting students to memorize facts, rather than creating a student inquiry based curriculum that teaches through cognitive and affective learning.
Ira Shor defines empowering education as “a critical-democratic pedagogy for self and social change; It is a student-centered program for multicultural democracy in school and society. It approaches individual growth as an active, cooperative, and social process, because the self and society create each other” (pg. 13). He argues that students and teachers need to “co-create” a curriculum that will be beneficial for students. He feels that curriculums need to be inquiry based and provide students the opportunity to ask questions to further develop their critical knowledge. Like Delpit and other authors we have read, Shor feels that the outcome of a student’s education is directly related to how that student interacts as a citizen of society. He feels that what the student is taught links to the students’ development of values, powers, and debates in society.
Empowering education can be created by instilling specific values in a classroom. Shor argues that a classroom must be participatory and students should interact in order to construct purpose and meaning of what is being taught. A participatory classroom is like a “free and democratic” society, where a classroom that follows a teacher-based curriculum mirrors an “authoritarian work world and political system”. Shor then goes on to argue that empowering education should be emotional, as well as rational, and the teacher should impose a curriculum that creates positive and meaningful emotions displayed by students. Teachers should pose problems that engage students and establishes an inquiry based learning environment.
After reading Shor’s Empowering Education and making numerous connections to previous articles we have read, I feel that empowering education is the solution to various educational setbacks that we have discussed throughout this course. By creating a classroom in which the students are able to ask WHY they are learning, teachers create a democratic and critical thinking curriculum that gives students necessary qualities that will make them a better citizen of society. I enjoyed this article because unlike all of the others that we have read thus far, Shor doesn’t just tell the issues regarding education but gives a solution. I feel that if all teachers were to create curriculums based on empowering education, then students would learn more positive values and gain qualities to help them be successful citizens.