Sunday, April 24, 2011

Education is Politics By: Ira Shor


"People are naturally curious. They are born learners. Education can either develop or stifle their inclination to ask why and to learn. 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 about their world. 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."
--In this quote I think that Shor is saying that future teachers need to made a curriculum that is not always full of memorizing facts or memorizing spelling words or things of that sort. It does not help the student because chlildren learn by asking question and being curious about things. They need something to think about and have an opinion on in order to learn. A student will not really be learning anything if they are given some spelling words to memorize. A student has to be able think about their learning in their own way. For example, in Professor Bogad's classroom we are not learning by memorizing vocabulary words, we are learning by basing our own opinions and listening to others' opinions; and questioning and thinking about others' opinions. We formulate our own ideas and critical thought;that is how children like to learn.

"Politics reside not only in subject matter but in the discourse of the classroom, in the way teachers and students speak to each other. The rules for talking are a key mechanism for empowering or disempowering students. How much open discussion is their in class? How much one way 'teacher talk'? Is their mutual dialogue between teacher and students or one-way transfers of information from teacher to students?"
--Shor is talking about teacher and student discussion in this quote. I think that he is stating these questions because he is asking what are teachers' doing in classrooms? Are they actually helping your child learn or are they talking without anybody really listening to them? Shor is saying that teachers need to engage their students in learning. When students are engaged, talking and asking questions, they are more than likely learning more than when they are just listening to a teacher talk to an hour. If students get the chance to have a dialogue in the classroom too then they might be a little more interested in the material. If there is "teacher talk" the entire time and the teacher just talks on and on about the lesson for the day there is a great chance that the child is uninterested and might even be daydreaming because they are not engaged. Future teachers need to make sure that their students are fully engaged and fully involved in the classroom. It can't just be a one way street.

"In science, a problem-posing approach could take a debate form. A science class could present controversies in the field and in society. Students could examine competing interpretations of the origins of the universe, the causes and treatments of AIDS, the policy conflicts over energy sources and global warming, or the debates over the health hazards of exposure to low-level radiation to electromagnetic fields generated by power lines. By presenting science debates, controversies, and competing interpretations, the critical teacher would pose the subject matter as a problem for students to think through rather than a bland official consensus for them to memorize."
--Shor discusses the problem-posing approach in this quote. He believes that if you approach a subject asking questions it will give the subject matter more meaning to the student. The subject mater does not matter  at all to a student if they facts are given to them and they are told to memorize it. Shor proposes that they are prompted with, as an example, a debate in science class. Instead of telling the student the treatments and causes of AIDS, have them debate about it. That way, instead of them just memorizing the material they are learning to be critical thinkers by debating the idea. This website shows an article that talks about the problem-posing approach in Biology Education. One point this author makes is how he thinks textbooks should be changed to accommodate the problem-posing approach.

Basically I think that these quotes really show how Shor thinks that students should be in charge or their own learning with a little bit of help from their teachers. If teachers would just ask the right questions, then students would get to thinking about subject matter and they would start to learn from their thoughts and ideas. Teachers should not give their students subject matter to memorize, they need to think about it so they will be interested in it. I personally think that these are really good teaching strategies and ideas. Do you think that the problem-posing approach is a good one? It seems like it would work well to me.


  1. These quotes do really show Shor's point, which is to allow students to interact and ask questions about the material being taught. I liked the quotes you chose and the explanations you gave.

  2. The comics you chose really helped push Shor's points. Too much do teachers treat their students like information dumpsters.

  3. I thought the second cartoon was a reall good acrtoon for this article!!!

  4. i really liked your post! i used it for my extended comments post :) :)

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