In any event, first [thing] we have to make contact with is the situation that we are entering and what kind of context we are teaching in, and for. And we have to then educate ourselves into the context.
In addition, the other thing is, the political conditions not only change from place to place; that is, some places are more open to allowing teachers to experiment, some places are very rigid and very punitive and repressive—so that we had to adjust to the political climate or the political profile around us. But that political climate was not only a function of place of where we were teaching, it is also a function of time.
Part two of the interview focuses on updates to critical pedagogy,
including some of Shor’s more recent experiments in the classroom. We
also talk a lot about movement work, about the pedagogies of movements,
about the role that educators play and might play, and about what Shor
has been doing inside and outside of formal academic institutions.
Once again, we let the tape run and give you a largely unedited interview. We have in mind an audience who is familiar with Shor and critical pedagogy but who may be interested in some of the personal details and specific points that Shor raises here that may not be available elsewhere.
And once again, a tiny chorus of Zebra finches make up the background noise for our conversation.
We hope you enjoy it.
Download the full transcript for the episode here.
Music sampled in this episode is “Night Owl” from Broke For Free.
I discovered what it was like to sit next to a teenager from an affluent family, and how they dressed; and they had good complexions and I wondered how that happened, ’cause nobody I grew up with had a nice complexion; they all had nice teeth, I had terrible teeth, all my friends had terrible teeth; I wore my brother’s clothes, the hand-me-downs, they had their own clothes. So, it was like a very sudden contact with class differences because the schools I went to in the neighborhood, we were all from the same social class. It was an education for me but it also caused me a lot of—I don’t know—doubt, anxiety about who I was, and I began to feel insecure that I was ugly, badly dressed, that I smelled bad, that my hair was too oily, that my skin was too pimply, my teeth were too cracked, and so on. . .
So I had been moving in this direction of what I call critical literacy or critical pedagogy. And Paulo Freire, of course, was way ahead, he had been doing it—that was around 1970s, he’d been doing it for over twenty years. So then I began studying his work in earnest and used it as a foundation for writing my first book Critical Teaching and Everyday Life.
In part one of our interview, Ira Shor tells us about growing up in the Bronx, his early experiences of education, joining social movements, practicing critical pedagogy, and his first encounters and early collaboration with the Brazilian educator Paulo Freire.
We hope you enjoy it, and check back next week for part two where we talk about social movements, political possibilities, and the current state of higher education.