Ira Shor says that the most important thing children learn is socialization. He urges teachers to encourage their students to question their experience, evaluate their schooling, and feel confident to change things. He makes references to Piaget who urged a reciprocal relationship between teachers and students, where respect for the teachers coexisted with cooperation and student centered pedagogy. Empowering Education essentially means to participate. Shore feels that best practice in education is when the teacher leads and directions instruction democratically, having a balance of power and encouraging input from the students which jointly enhances the learning process. The goals of this pedagogy are to enhance academic knowledge and to develop critical thinkers about society, power, inequality, and change. After reading this piece, I was able to relate Shor to many of the other pieces we read pertaining to social issues in education. I especially see a connection between Gerri August and Shor. Gerri August talks about democratic pedagogy and dialogicality and shows us (Zeke's classroom) how a teacher who teaches with this style can facilitate learning in such a way where students learn to recognize, respect and accept each others differences. Moving away from a dominate mindset and being open to sociocultural differences creates a safe environment focused on equality. Shor says we as educators need to question the status quo and encourage our students to do the same. Gerri August questioned the status quo by researching and investigating what happens when a child with lesbian parents and children from other non-dominate family structures share their family stories in a classroom that is led by a teacher committed to democratic pedagogy.
Shor really challenges the teaching style of most teachers. Typically, teachers have his/her agenda and there is little room for questioning or changes. Shore reminded me to relinquish control and create an environment that is more community based where each member plays an active and important role where their input is valued and encouraged. August refers to school as an adventure for children and educators need to guide this adventure and do so with varying degrees of sensitivity and skill. I think she means that we need to take the time to learn our students, their families and their unique situations then, guide their adventure individually according to their circumstances and their personality. Shor and August both challenge educators not to be neutral. Neutrality is not an option because if we are neutral we are essentially conforming to the dominate culture and not allowing for social change.