Can Critical Teaching Change the World?, Ira Shor Keynote Address (VIDEO)February 20, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Posted in AERO, AERO Conference, AERO Online Video Series | Leave a comment
Tags: AERO, AERO Conference, Critical Teaching, Critical Teaching and Everyday Life, CUNY, Empowering Education, Freire, Ira Shor, Paulo Freire, Pedagogy for Liberation, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Shor, When Students Have Power
Ira Shor is an author and Professor of Rhetoric/Composition at both the City University of New York’s Graduate Center and the College of Staten Island/CUNY. His nine published books include a 3-volume set in honor of the late Paulo Freire, the noted Brazilian educator who was his friend and mentor: Critical Literacy in Action and Education is Politics (Volumes 1 & 2).
Shor’s work with Freire began in the early 1980s and lasted until Freire’s unfortunate passing in 1997. He and Freire co-authored A Pedagogy for Liberation in 1986, the first “talking” book Freire published with a collaborator. Shor also authored the widely used Empowering Education (1992) and When Students Have Power (1996), two foundational texts in critical teaching. His Critical Teaching and Everyday Life (1980) was the first book-length treatment of Freire-based critical methods in the North American context.
Shor’s teaching career began at Staten Island Community College in the embattled period of Open Admissions, a creative era of cultural democracy and classroom innovation. During this time, Shor helped build an open-access writing program recognized then by the NCTE as one of three such successful efforts in higher education.
Shor also started the new doctorate program in Rhetoric/Composition at CUNY’s GradCenter in 1993. There he directs dissertations and offers seminars in literacy and conquest, critical pedagogy, whiteness studies, composition theory and practice, the rhetorics of space and place, and working-class culture.
Shor has a son, Paulo, born in 2003, who is doing a reasonably good job of raising his father.
“Can Critical Teaching Change the World?”
Teaching is not a career leading to fame or riches. While it is relatively easy to be a bad teacher, it is remarkably hard to be a good one. Many teachers with high expectations conscientiously infuse ethical ideals into their lesson plans and class activities. These teachers see education as a career for doing some good in a very troubled world. Their high hopes for education as a force to improve the world mirrors the texts of great educational thinkers, from Dewey to Freire, from Bruner to Kozol to Kohl to Deborah Meier and Ted Sizer and Bob Moses. My question for today, then, is this–Can critical teachers indeed change the world for the better? Can classrooms inviting students to question the status quo, to consider inequality and injustice in society, to probe the ethics of power and the civics of knowledge–transform a cynical, conservative, test-tormented age into a new progressive era?