Monday, November 30, 2009

Talking Points #10

Shor "Empowering Education"

1. "To educate is to adapt the child to an adult social environment...the child is called upon to receive from outside the already perfected products of adult knowledge and morality; the educational relationship consists of pressure on the one side and receptiveness on the other. From such a point of view, even the most individual tasks performed by students (writing an essay, making a translation, solving a problem) partakes less of the genuine activity of spontaneous and individual research than of...copying an external model; the student's inmost morality remains fundamentally directed towards obedience rather than autonomy." (pg. 12)

"The deficiency is the curriculum in schools, which he saw as a one-way transmission of rules and knowledge from teacher to student, stifling their curiosty." (12)

- This passage illustrates several core concepts which we have discussed over the course of our time in this class as well as in relation to our service learning projects. Concepts and ideas such as imitation, obedience, pressure (all of which are techniques we do not want to employ) versus critical thinking/discussion, equity, and understanding. By practicing imitation of gernally established "adult knowledge" and by "copying an external model" the students ability to think critically about an idea and form their own opinion of the subject matter is inhibited. Furthermore, it gives the impression that the product of "adult knowledge" is always the correct one, thereby causing the student to conform to what is gernally accepted as "right" instead of voicig theri own opinions, even if they are in opposition. Also, this passage explores the "obedience" of the student. A really great example of how we are conditioned to do as our teachers instruct us comes from the exercise we did prior to our class discussion on Anyon and Oates. Although dittos and busy work is not at all the way our class has been designed throughout the course of the semester, when we were presented with a task the majority of the students began filling ot the worksheet without a word - much less a question as to why the teaching strategies were suddenly changing.

2. "Banks (1991) described empowerment in terms of transforming self and society: 'A curriculum designed to empower students must be transformative in nature and help students to develop the knowledge, skills, and values needed to become social critics who can make reflective decisions and implement their decisions in effective personal, social, political, and economic action.'" (pg. 16)

- I like this concept of "empowering education" and "empowering students." There is something distinct about the choce of the word empower, which immediately associates itself with strength, confidence, envisionment, having a voice, and many other positive relations in my mind. I also feel like the statement "empowering education" takes a look at the general direction in which public (and private) institutions and education are heading and suggests that we give education a second chance by employing better strategies and guiding students towards a future as self-sufficient and confident individuals, ones who will take personal action and responsibility.

3. "In a Utopian literature class I teach, a student once suggested that there should be no required attendance in our class or in others. She argued that attending class in her other courses had been a waste of time because she was able to do the work on her own. Instead of responding immediately, I posed her ideas back to the class, to see what other students thought. Some agreed with her strenuously, saying that they should not have to come to class if they could do the work on their own. I then asked, 'Is there nothing special to be gained by students and teachers meeting in class to talk over ideas? How often in life do you set aside time just for intellectual growth?' They were not impressed. They reported being bored and silenced by didactic lectures in classes where teachers raced to cover the material and ignored their questions. They were convinced that if they could copy a friend's class notes, read the textbook, and talk to each other on the phone, they would get just as good an education as they got by coming to class. Their alienation from the traditional learning process surfaced early and became the starting theme for negotiating our own class.” (pg. 27)

- I have mixed feelings about the ideas proposed in the preceeding passage. If all of my classes were structured in a way that stimulate critical conversation and gernal discussion about a topic or a theme that relates to the material studied and our overall objective in the class, then even if I could use outside resources to gain the information needed to pass the course I would be compelled to say and participate in discussion. I personally feel that discussions arranged in this manner open up the material being studied for further analysis and interpretations given by our professor as well as our peers, a valuable resource not available in textbooks. Further examples and relations may also be given that enlighten the essential ideas that need to be obtained. I know I always feel like I have a better understanding of even the most difficult and dense material after having discussions in our FNED class. However, I do have at least one other class where I feel like a body in a room. My professor doesn't take attendance, often strays away from the topic at hand (making even the lectures difficult to follw) and asks very few questions that would open the class up for student-teacher interaction and participation. While the information available in my textbook is limited, I am less compelled to attend class when I don't feel like I am benefitting from the discussion/lecture and when my voice/opinion does not appear to be valued.

1 comment:

  1. You blogs are all so thoughtful but you are missing two and several are late. I am glad you used the blog to engage so deeply -- I wish you included more links and such within the posts. your extra materials are excellent!