"Empowering education, as I define it here, is a critical - democratic pedagogy for self and social change. It is a student-centered program for multicultural democracy in school and society. It approaches individual growth as an active, cooperative, and social process, because the self and society create each other. Human beings do not invent themselves in a vacuum, and society cannot be made unless people create it together. The goals of this pedagogy are to relate personal growth to public life, by developing strong skills, academic knowledge, habits of inquiry, and critical curiosity about society, power, inequality, and change."
Shor's piece brings to light the importance of the participatory classroom and the need for students to feel comfortable to challenge the material that is being taught in the classroom. The reading enforces the idea that if students are unable to relate or connect to the material at hand, then they are not actively engaged and instead, actively resist the material. The passage above forced me to reflect on my own classroom and why I feel so strongly about encouraging students to participate and creating multiple ways for them to engage in a lesson. I find truth in the idea that "Human beings do not invent themselves in a vacuum, and society cannot be made unless people create it together." If a whole class were to be silent and answer questions when only presented by the teacher, nothing would be accomplished. By enabling and encouraging students to discuss and bounce ideas off of one another, they as a class, are learning from each other and strengthening their own ideas and opinions about readings, characters, etc., creating an open forum room.
What I personally struggle with is that students still resist the freedom that is given within the classroom. When they enter the classroom at the beginning of the year and are used to a traditionally ran class, it will sometimes take a few students the whole year before they are willing to open up and question the material at hand. I feel as though they undergo a culture shock and while some students latch onto the concept right away, they remain stragglers and have to be roped into the conversations. This issue does not only pertain to the students, it also pertains to the faculty members who will look sideways at the idea of allowing the students to truly question the work they are doing in the classroom, as they, the teachers, stand in front of the class and lecture with the students texting, sleeping, or doing another class' homework.
How do we as educators who are passionate about the students fully grasping the context and content of the lessons, encourage the students who are resisting the work completely? Even by creating an openness and comfortable environment, how do we truly enable them to come out of their shells? I feel like this is a never ending problem in my room.