Saturday, April 23, 2011

Education is Not a Political Toy

Education is Politics - Ira Shor

Shor talks a lot about what we've already heard so much about: the educational system we have is a broken system that works more often for those who have social or economic blessings than minorities and other students.  Oakes is mentioned in the article as having done research that helped reinforce his points.

What it comes down to is us as teachers.  We are the only ones who can make a difference, since it seems obvious to me that the bureaucracy in charge of running public education and even those in colleges are not going to change their ideas and change how the curriculum is designed or how the school system as a whole is run.  There is a bright side for us educators: we are many.  We can teach our own version of the curriculum, use students' input to enhance the lessons, and make things relevant to them.  Students need teachers who understand that not everyone is comfortable/capable of acing standardized tests and not everyone can learn or even wants to learn by being lectured to.

We need students to question the world around them, not accept it blindly.  You have to ask yourself, did your school or perhaps a single teacher encourage you to ask questions and not take things for granted?  If so, then you've got an example of what to do.  If not, there are many resources available.

Teaching is not easy.  Making an environment where every feels comfortable, conveying the material so that everyone (regardless of disability or learning style) can understand, and everything else Shor talks about like having students participate, relating to life, and being multicultural sounds nightmarish to implement.  But that's what we have to try.  We are not alone.  "TOTAL PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS: 3,178,142" And that is just for public schools; it does not include Catholic, private, or charter schools.  That's a lot of teachers, and if they all got together, used some sort of communication and could share lesson plans, teaching strategies, and general advice, imagine what could be accomplished.  I realize that some teachers do network already. But if there was a move to network all teachers, the benefit would be incredible.

I know I ask this question a lot, but we're seeing more and more that has to be changed, and it's up to us.  Can we make a difference and change how the educational system is perceived?


  1. Hey, I just used your post as an extended comment for my blog. I talked about unions as an issue to consider when trying to reform

  2. I think that the more teachers who are aware of the faults that the education system has go out into the field, a difference can be made. Teachers and educators will know exactly what needs to change and what will/will not work. This type of a change is going to start with baby steps but eventually turn into giant leaps which is exaclty what we need.

  3. I did an extended comment off you!!!!!!! Read it!!!!!

  4. i believe that every teacher can make a difference, you just have to be willing to take on the challenge!

  5. i agree with steph. the teachers that say their students cant handle certain material, are the teachers that cant handle their students.