Sunday, December 1, 2013

Talking Points #10- Quotes from Shor's "Empowering Education"

For my blog post this week, I chose different quotes from Ira Shor's article titled Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change

“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 college.” (Shor 15)

            This quote really stood out to me because I couldn't help but think of the different schools around the state of Rhode Island. While driving through the state, one can see how drastically different the schools are in Barrington versus Central Falls. I couldn’t help but think of Kozol’s Amazing Grace and how one’s economic status influences everything in life. In Kozol’s article, he says “There are children in the poorest, most abandoned places who, despite the miseries and poisons that the world has pumped into their lives, seem, when you first meet them, to be cheerful anyway.” The other day, one of my teachers sent the class an article that relates to both the Shor and Kozol quotes. The article by Nicholas D. Kristof titled “Where is the Love?” also talks about how “our life outcomes often depend on the “ovarian lottery.”” One part of this article that really stood out to me that especially related to the Kozol quote was that “Researchers say that’s why the poorest 20 percent of Americans donate more to charity, as a fraction of their incomes, than the richest 20 percent.” I found this quote to be so powerful because it shows how those who do not have much money to spare will still donate to those in need, while those who have plenty are not willing to help. 

"They conclude that "this competitive orientation leads to isolation and alienation" among students, encouraging a handful of "winners" while depressing the performance of the many, especially female students and minorities, who withdraw from the aggressive affect of the classroom." (Shor 24)

           I found this quote interesting because in my CEP 315 class we were just talking about using competition in the classroom. We discussed how competition can have negative effects in the classroom and how kids can feel ostracized when participating in certain games/activities. The textbook says that "The greater the emphasis on competitive evaluation and grading, the more students will focus on performance goals rather than mastery. And low-achieving students who have little hope of either performing well or mastering the task may simply want to get it over with" (Woolfolk 510). According to Shor, "Competition encourages people to survey other people's differences for potential weak spots" (Shor 24). It was so interesting to see
both of my classes relating with one another and it was also fascinating how both agreed that competition is not usually beneficial in the classroom. I never really considered the harms that could exist through having students compete against one another and always thought that competition was just used as a means of motivating kids.

"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.” (Shor 12)

                  While reading this quote, I immediately thought of our FNED 346 class and how we are allowed to talk about and question school and society. I feel that our class is an example of what Shor wants to happen. He wants us to ask questions to further our knowledge. Shor argues that a curriculum that allows for questions "helps students ­to develop their intellectual and emotional powers to examine their learning in school, their everyday experience, and the conditions in society" (Shor 12). Shor says that the teachers are a crucial part in making this happen. When reading this section of the article, I had an image of what not to do as a teacher come to mind. I'm sure everyone has seen or heard the voice of the teacher in the Charlie Brown cartoons. I think that this is exactly what Shor does NOT want the teachers to be like. He says that if teachers teach "a curriculum that does not challenge the conditions in society", then students will get the idea that there is "no need for change." (Shor 12)

Talking Points for Class: I think that our FNED 346 class is a perfect example of what Shor is talking about. Dr. Bogad allows for us to ask questions and challenge society, which is exactly what Shor says is necessary in order for students to thrive. I think that this class has taught me so much more than my other classes because of the way that it is set up. 


  1. Cathy,

    I love that you pulled from sources that have currently been brought to your attention. Whenever I am stressed about understanding or linking to other sources I look at what I am learning at that moment and they always connect-it’s the great wonder of synchronicity! I love that you used your CEP book-I have that one too! I am interested in reading that Where’s the Love article.

    I find the terms “ovarian lottery” shocking but because of that its attention grabbing and so does its job. That’s an accurately stirring alternative way to saying “genetic lottery”.

    I have seen in real life how those with little give more than those with a lot. I see it in my friend Timika, who is a single Mom with three kids, a mortgage and student loans. I am astounded at all she gives knowing that she is living paycheck to paycheck. It’s pretty inspiring. It’s also disappointing knowing that most rich people are Scrooges.

    With the competition quote, I heard whispers of Kohn’s “Good Job” article. Really if you think about it, that’s what good jobs and atta-boys have stirred in our students-blatant competition!

    I completely agree with your connection to the last quote and our class. It almost feels like an English class in the way that we read a text and then come to class and sit around debating and discussing what we think about it. Dr. Bogad has on occasion even pointed out how we have shown her different ways of seeing these articles. How’s that for democratic learning! This is why we all look forward to this class. Because Dr. Bogad shows us that our voices and opinions matter!

  2. Hi Cathy,

    This was such a great post! I really enjoyed reading it. I loved the first quote. It reminded me of the Promising Practices Conference. I wonder how the Mayor would respond to that quote.

    I look forward to the day that I can take a class and say "Hey, this would go great with something we learned in FNED 346" I'm so happy you shared your connections with this article to other class readings. We have so many valuable tools that we can take away from this class. I am looking forward to using them out in the "real world." I believe that this goes along with Shor. Because Dr. Bogad doesn't make us memorize and memorize I can remember things more clearly and not have to stress about memorizing the facts for a test. I am so happy to say that I can walk away at the end of this semester with a binder full of material and remember a little something from each article.

    See you Tuesday!

  3. Hi Cathy,
    You made a lot of great connections to the readings that we have done this semester, as well as to your other classes and to society itself. Great post!

  4. Hi Cathy,

    I really liked how you connected our class to your blog this week and now looking back at it, I also agree with you. Great post!

  5. Hi Cathy,

    I can so relate to what your CEP 315 class said about competition in classrooms! As I've mentioned in class, I am in my placement with kindergarteners during their math center time. I've spent several of these visits doing the Bingo center with them. The competition really takes away from what they are supposed to be learning, because they are so focused on winning the game that they don't really care about the numbers/colors/shapes/etc. When a student "loses," especially more than one round, there can be tears or agitation, or they shut down, or try to sabotage or act out during the next game. No learning is happening when that happens! I would have to agree that competition is really not beneficial, especially with young students.

    - Jamie

  6. Cathy,

    Great Blog this week. I love the connections you made ,especially to Charlie Brown. We all have been in a class where that was the feeling.I agree with you I have learned more in FNED346 then many of my other classes EVER!

    See you Tuesday,

  7. Cathy,
    i thought the last quote about the importance of asking questions while learning because i could not agree more. When i learn something new i always ask questions because i never feel confident in the subject matter if i do not ask questions. I think the Charlie Brown video is a great example because that shows why lecturing without allowing time for questions is not beneficial for the students. The students in the class were falling asleep as the teacher lectured on and on.

  8. Love these connections across classes!!