Ira Shor’s Empowering Education was the perfect reading to bring closure to everything that we have learned through FNED 346. I feel like the reading combined themes from nearly all of the authors we have read this semester from Delpit’s “culture of power” to Finn and Oakes's emphasis on critical thinking. I even felt like I could hear Johnson’s voice throughout the article telling us that as educators we can’t be afraid to just talk about issues and reality.
There were many different topics covered in Shor’s work, but the one that struck me as most important was the idea that education is not and can not be neutral. Ever since I decided that I wanted to be a teacher I have been nervous about what are appropriate and not appropriate issues you can discuss in the classroom. How much can students’ know about your personal beliefs without them feeling like you are forcing your opinions onto them? Can I really talk about the issues of race, gayness, and gender we cover in FNED?
All of the authors we have read would probably say YES you have to! Shor, especially, would say that it is absolutely necessary and that education is not neutral as it is, anyway –despite what people say.
Education is not neutral because is supports the status quo (this is where I could hear Delpit’s voice) and the dominant ideology. What is included and excluded from the curriculum is, in itself, a biased process that affects how students perceive reality and the norm. When students of color read only literature written by white authors, learn about the history of white people, and are taught by a white faculty, they are learning something about how our society perceives their abilities. This is the same as what we learned about Brown v. Board of Education and why the segregation of black and white children in schools was harmful. Even if the facilities are equal, it teaches children that it is better to be white.
This is why education can not be neutral. Education should be about asking questions and developing critical thinkers in order to empower students to make a difference. If all we are doing is teaching students to memorize information than we are simply allowing the process of class, race, and gender segregation to continue cycling in our culture. As teachers it is crucial that we(as Dr. Bogad says)are not afraid to yell fire as the building burns down.
If anyone is still interested in other places to look for information about Empowering Education, I found this interesting non-profit org that has a lot of useful things for teachers!
I realize this blog entry is a little late and for that I apologize. This past week has been extremely stressful and filled to the brim with work, classes, reading, papers, and the unfortunate timing of a very upsetting personal problem.
I just want to say that in my entire college career (I have been in school 4 years now!) this class has been the most important class I have ever had. I will never forget the relationships I have made or the articles and conversations I have learned from. This was truly empowering education!!
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6 years ago