Sunday, November 30, 2014

Empowering Education - Extended Comments

For this week's reading by Ira Shor I decided to complete an extended comments piece using Jessica's blog. In her discussion of the text, Jessica made connections to other readings we have done in class. 
The first connection she made was to Alfie Kohn, from a journal entry we had to do in regards to our service learning. Kohn's What To Look for in a Classroom is a table that he created that consists of both good and bad things in a classroom. Jessica also said that her reading of this piece was long and painful which I can fully agree with. To show her connection she provided the following quote from Empowering Education...
"The typical classroom is framed by the competition, marked by struggle between students (and often between teacher and students), and riddled by indicators of comparative achievement and worth. Star charts on the wall announce who has been successful at learning multiplication tables, only children with ‘neat’ handwriting have their papers posted for display” (Shor, p23-24). Kohn believes that star charts and reward systems should not be in the classroom and Shor says that these are quite common in the classroom. I found this very interesting because in almost every elementary classroom I have stepped in to, rewards and star charts are seen frequently and used often. 

The next connection Jessica made was to the assignment we did for Dr. Bogad in class. We had to fill out a very simple paper with questions about the Jeannie Oakes article. The questions were so simple that I thought I was answering them incorrectly. Most of them were fill-in-the-blank questions which require little thought. Throughout my schooling, I was taught not to question authority so when Dr. Bogad gave us the paper, I completed it without question. Once the time to finish the assignment was up, she explained to us the purpose of the work. She wanted us to refuse the work because it was so simple that it insulted our intelligence. Even if I felt this way, I would not express that to the teacher, as I explained in class. Shor says, “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, p12). Shor feels the same way that Dr. Bogad does, as Jessica explained. They both feel that students should be challenged in order to excel and further their intelligence. With this challenge in the classrooms, students can become thinkers and change society in positive ways rather than becoming minimum wage workers.
The last connection that Jessica made was to Collier, Rodriguez, and August. I agree with this connection completely. Shor says, Our role as teachers is to create a safe environment in which students can express opinions and, most importantly, generate their own language materials for learning and peer-teaching” (Shor, p.43). August's article "Safe Spaces" explains how important it is to create a safe environment for students, like Shor stated above. Rodriguez explains his struggle with keeping his first language in the environment he was put in. In order to be successful in society, he was told to speak only English, loosing his native language and identity. As for Collier, she believed that it is crucial for students to embrace their first language skills to acquire new ones. This quote pulls together three different readings perfectly. Jessica did a great job on all of her connections and I agree with all of them and was happy to elaborate on them.

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