Saturday, November 29, 2014

"Empowering Education: Education Is Politics" by Ira Shor

In "Empowering Education: Education Is Politics," Ira Shor believes when there is change in power relations in the classroom through problem-posing and mutual dialogue between teachers and students, students become more engaged in their learning. This is what he calls an empowering education, which he defines as a "student-centered program for multicultural democracy in school and society that approaches individual growth as an active, cooperative, and social process, because the self and society create each other" (15).

“Education is a social experience for tens of millions of students who come to class with their own dreams and agendas. Sometimes cooperating with and sometimes resisting the intention of the school and the teacher” (13). 
A traditional classroom is portrayed as a teacher standing in front of the classroom, leading the classroom with students sitting in row. However, I believe the best learning happens when there is open discussion in the classroom and there is mutual dialogue between teacher and students. Shor goes on to say, "Education is more than facts and skills. It is a socializing experience that helps make the people who make society" (15). An empowering classroom offers students to share their own ideas and their own experiences which then allows each child to learn from each other. Students need to know that their opinions matter and each one's voice is powerful.

 "If the students' task is to memorize rules and existing knowledge, without questioning the subject matter or the learning process, their potential for critical thought and action will be restricted" (12). 
I received good grades throughout high school, however I have to admit that most of it was from memorization. For example, I am now having trouble with math because in high school I found myself memorizing the information I needed to know for the exam and then forgetting it. Due to not developing my knowledge, I am now suffering what I should have already known. Teachers must engage critical thinking in the classroom. I can relate this to our classroom, we are not required to memorize the articles but to critically examine each one.


"Most kids like the sound of their home language better...We talk about why it might be necessary to learn Standard English...Asking my students to memorize the rules without asking who makes the rules, who enforces the rules, who benefits from the rules, who loses from the rules...legitimates a social system that devalues my students' knowledge and language" (53).
This reminded me of Delpit's "Rules and Codes of Power." Delpit suggests teachers should create opportunities for more than one language in their classrooms. Not as a substitute language but as an alternative language for expression to make the students feel welcomed in the classroom. I have witnessed this in my Service Learning. Out of the eleven students in my SL classroom, about five of them are Hispanic and my teacher allows them to speak Spanish when they cannot pronounce words in English or when they have a hard trouble explaining something.


  1. Great response! It really helped me. Great pictures

  2. I really liked your pictures! Good analysis of the quotes from the article as well. Great post!

  3. Great connection to memorization in math vs what we do in this class. I don't really remember a lot of the things that I simply memorized, even from last week before the bio exam... but the information that I learned by critically examining, like the articles in this class, I remember well. Critical thinking and empowering education really provide so many benefits that we are missing by sticking to traditional methods. Great post

  4. Great job connecting Delpit to Shor. You along with Erika have helped me understand Shor's main idea. I like your pictures. Good job.

  5. Your connections and response to this reading were really insightful and interesting, it definitely helped me with developing a deeper understanding of Shor. Great job Cindy!

  6. I really enjoyed the picture of the "How is Empowerment coaching beneficial?". It fit perfectly with this article. Great post!

  7. The floppy disc cartoon...absolutely fantastic i love it