As I completed this reading, after a long and painful day of reading it, the first connection I found was with Alfie Kohn. I had just completed my service learning journals right before reading this and did the journal on Kohn’s What To Look For In a Classroom. The table that he created consists of good things in a classroom and possible things to worry about in a classroom. This quote by Shor is exactly what Kohn defines as a bad classroom:
“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 says that if there are star charts or reward systems on the walls, that is something to worry. As Shor says, these are very typical in classrooms. I found that to be very unfortunate seeing as how it is something that can be so detrimental to the self worth and self esteem of children.
The next connection I came across was on page 12 when 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). Reading this quote, the first thing that came to my mind was the activity we just did in class when Dr.Bogad handed us the paper about the Jeannie Oakes article and wanted us to fill it out. The questions were so simple and did not take any skill or intellect at all; all you needed to be able to do for this activity was to read and to write. For me personally, throughout all my schooling, I have been taught to NEVER question authority and do as I am told. So, when Dr.Bogad said that she was hoping somebody would question her, or refuse to do, or even to go as far as to crumble up their paper, I was shocked. I remember Megan saying that if somebody did that, she would look at him or her as ignorant and rude, and I definitely agree with her. But, after Dr.Bogad explained how truly insulting this was to our intelligence, and us, I wish I did something like that. As Shor says, when we are given tasks like this, we are not learning anything and furthermore, we are not being challenged. There is no critical thinking involved at all in this, and in the future when we leave school and join the real, working world, we aren’t going to be the millionaire CEO’s that people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are. They are the people that challenged the status quo and questioned the authority that so many people are afraid to. Just as Dr.Bogad, Shor wants students to challenge the status quo. If a student feels like they are not benefitting from an assignment, they should say something.
My next connection is one quote by Shor that can relate to Collier, Rodriguez, and August. On page 43, 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). This single quote is full of connections. The first one being August’ “Safe Space” article. Shor says that as teachers we need to create a safe environment for students to come and learn and express themselves, as August explains through her example of LGBT in the classroom. This then brings me to my next connection – Rodriguez. Rodriguez lacked this safe environment at the school he went to, which in turn, restricted him from expressing himself. This resulted in him losing his sense of identity and become what society wanted him to be in order to be ‘successful.’ The next person I can relate this quote to is Collier. Collier says that when teaching multilingual children, you cannot forbid the students from using their native language in the classroom. Using their language allows them to relate to students, develop a deeper meaning and understanding and overall be a better student. This is a perfect quote to tie together these readings and explain what a good teacher is and what a good classroom consists of just as my connections to Kohn and Dr.Bogad did.