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Pivotal Book Review

Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change


by Ira Shor


From the Reviews:

Ira Shor is a pioneer in the field of critical education who for over twenty years has been experimenting with learning methods. His work creatively adapts the ideas of Brazilian educator Paulo Freire for North American classrooms. In Empowering Education Shor offers a comprehensive theory and practice for critical pedagogy.

He denounces the current-traditional model of banking education--the practice of teaching where the instructor "deposits" information "into" the students. In the current-traditional model, the input is always selected by the authority, or teacher, and the student is a passive recipient of knowledge which has been preselected as both meaningful and useful for the student's future development.

Professor Shor argues that this current-traditional model of teaching methodology not only places the "content" of the course beyond any control of the student, but it also prescibes the method of delivery for our students. For Shor, empowering education is a student-centered, critical and democratic pedagogy for studying any subject matter and for self and social change. It takes shape as a dialogue in which teachers and students mutually investigate everyday themes, social issues, and academic knowledge. Through dialogue and problem-posing, students become active agents of their learning. This book shows how students can develop as critical thinkers, inspired learners, skilled workers, and involved citizens. Shor carefully analyzes obstacles to and resources for empowering education, suggesting ways for teachers to transform traditional approaches into critical and democratic ones. He offers many examples and applications for the elementary grades through college and adult education.

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