Category Archives: Ira Shor

Resources for Irwin Leopando Podcast

Buber, Martin. I and Thou. Trans. Walter Kaufmann. Touchstone, 1971.

Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics, Democracy, and Civic Courage. Rowan & Littlefield, 2000.

Kirylo, James D. Paulo Freire: The Man from Recife. Peter Lang, 2011.

Kirylo, James D.and Drick Boyd. Paulo Freire: His Faith, Spirituality, and Theology. BrillSense, 2017.

Shor, Ira. When Students Have Power: Negotiating Authority in a Critical Pedagogy. University of Chicago Press, 1997.

Teaching as “Vocation”: Part Two of a Conversation with Irwin Leopando

In Part Two Leopando continues to explore the theological influences on Freire’s thought and activism that sustained him through exile and institutional work (in government and higher education). We discuss the institutional boundaries on using a Freirean method in the college or university classroom, and I admit to being a “failed Freirean.” We talk about what it means to live into as much democracy as possible in our classrooms, and acknowledge the restraints of institutional time (the semester length), grades, the tenure process, and other academic demands. In the end, Freire calls us to accountability—to risk and to dream, and to live into our “vocation.” Tune into the podcast for a fuller definition of what Freire meant by such a theologically infused term as“vocation,” and how this vision forms the basis of his pedagogy of freedom.

Special music at the end of each segment is ”Prayer for Immigrant Children” (2018) by Paul Myhre: 

https://www.reverbnation.com/paulomyhre

Freire and Faith: Part One of a Conversation with Irwin Leopando

Irwin Leopando is Associate Professor of English at LaGuardia Community College, (CUNY) in Queens, NY. He is the author of the book we discuss in this podcast, A Pedagogy of Faith: The Theological Vision of Paulo Freire (Bloomsbury, 2017). Leopando came to study Paulo Freire (1921-1997) in graduate school classes with his dissertation director, Ira Shor. Leopando’s interest in dialogical pedagogy extends into his own teaching of English composition. Also as one who grew up in the Roman Catholic Church, Leopando shares this faith affiliation with Freire.

In Part One of this podcast Leopando talks about his first encounters with Freire in Shor’s classes through Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Leopando became curious in how Freire’s Roman Catholic faith and his own experience of childhood poverty influenced his activism and his pedagogy in the political and social context of Brazil. Liberation theology and the Christian-Marxist dialogue were major influences on Freire’s thought. Democracy requires the literacy of the poor. And a democratic classroom requires the drive to help the learner grow into their own agency.

Resources for a Freirean Departmental Journey

Books and articles:

Boal, A. Games for Actors and Non-Actors. Trans. A. Jackson. 2nd Ed. Routledge, 2002.

Cook-Sather, A. “From Traditional Accountability to Shared Responsibility: The Benefits and Challenges of Student Consultants Gathering Midcourse Feedback in College Classrooms.” Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education 34 (2009): 231-241.

_____. Engaging Students as Partners in Learning and Teaching: A Guide for Faculty. Jossey-Bass, 2014.

Darder, A. The Student’s Guide to Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Bloomsbury, 2018.

Freire, P. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Trans. M.B. Ramos. Bloomsbury, 2018.

Pippin, T. “What Would We Be Doing If We Weren’t Doing This?: A Journey in Democratic Departmental Practices.” International Journal of Critical Pedagogy.” 8/1 (2017): 237-59.

Shor, I. When Students Have Power: Negotiating Authority in Critical Pedagogy. University of Chicago Press, 1997.

Department Vision Statement: Department of Religious Studies, Agnes Scott College

We, the community of religious studies scholars, believe that the study of religion opens the door to greater acceptance and understanding of individual and cultural beliefs. This greater understanding provides one of the necessary frameworks on which a peaceful and just global community is built.

  • As a community of scholars, we seek to be nurturing, responsive, mutually inclusive, and accountable by:
  • Building an inclusive atmosphere on issues of race, class, ethnicity, nationality, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, age, ability, accessibility, and gender.
  • Supporting a variety of teaching methods, learning styles, and abilities. We seek to share knowledge in the classroom to supplement academic dialogue, realizing that we are all learners.
  • Challenging ourselves and each other to critically engage academic theories of religion with global and social perspectives.
  • As a community, we affirm academic freedom and seek to support an inclusive and interdisciplinary curriculum that reinforces mutual empowerment across boundaries of difference.
  • As a community, we seek to nurture through the whole journey of the religious studies major or minor: job/career options, (wo)mentoring for post-baccalaureate study, (including but not limited to graduate and professional school, seminary, rabbinical school or any further study), and being a support network after graduation from Agnes Scott. The religious studies and religion and social justice majors are preparation for the process of learning and living.
  • As a department, we seek to build a coalition with other departments and programs, at Agnes Scott and in the wider community.
  • As a department, we oppose any and all forms of sexual harassment and recognize the subtle power dynamics in a learning environment.
  • We will aspire to an ongoing process of education about power, attitudes, awareness, and support through peer educators, Safe Agnes Scott Students (SASS), and other departmental peer support groups.
  • By actively listening to and supporting one another, we seek to offer a stable, nurturing place and a safe and brave enough environment from which to challenge and question ourselves and others. We will seek to use these conversations and this writing as a way to articulate our needs, differences, and hopes about our journeys toward democratic education with students (majors, minors, friends) and faculty.
  • As a community, we seek to live intentionally as mutually accountable to one another. We affirm and seek to embody the goals of Agnes Scott College as articulated in its mission and values statements. This accountability agreement binds us to mutual respect and accessibility that is continually evolving.

Revised Fall 2018

Syllabus Statement Template for Safe Agnes Scott Students (SASS):

SASS is a student leadership group that initially emerged in the Department of Religious Studies in order to assist in creating “safe and brave enough” and honorable spaces in the classroom. SASS helps us to create a classroom space in which students and professors are mutually accountable in the learning process. SASS representatives will be working with students on a syllabus review and on a midterm course evaluation. SASS representatives are also available outside of the classroom for students to discuss any questions or concerns that they might have, e.g., questions about assignments, or concerns about race, gender, sexuality, abilities, or religion in the classroom. Conversations will remain anonymous, but professors will be alerted to any general or specific concerns as needed.

SASS representatives and professors will meet at least four times throughout the semester: one meeting before the first class visit, a meeting following the syllabus review, and meetings before and after the midterm review.

Stephen D. Brookfield on Being a Critically Reflective Teacher: Part 1

Dr. Stephen Brookfield is the John Ireland Endowed Chair at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He has been evolving as a teacher and teaching others how to evolve through critical, reflective practices for almost fifty years. He is the author of 18 books on adult learning and education, critical race theory and adult education, teaching through discussion, democratic spaces, power dynamics in the classroom, social justice teaching, and activist education. He incorporates critical theory (e.g. Gramsci, Marcuse, Habermas) and pedagogical theories (e.g. Paulo Freire, Myles Horton, Ira Shor, John Dewey, Eduard Lindeman) in his writing.

In Part 1 Stephen talks about his background and what drew him into teaching. He models what it means to be a critically reflective teacher—in Freire’s words, authoritative, not authoritarian. He continually searches for what’s new, what is yet to be realized—and that awareness involves a critique of power in the classroom. “There is no such thing as a power-free classroom,” he writes. Everything, including naming, reifies power dynamics. “Efforts to introduce more student-centered, empowering activities sometimes, in a teasing contradiction, underscore teachers’ power,” he has written, and faculty have to know and reflect on their own social locations and privileges as they challenge white supremacy, patriarchy, heteronormativity, and capitalism.

Ira Shor on Critical Pedagogy: Questioning the Status Quo – Part 1

March 13, 2017

Ira Shor is Professor of English at the College of Staten Island and Professor of Rhetoric and Composition at The Graduate Center, CUNY. He is a leading theorist and practitioner in critical literacy and pedagogy and democratic classroom spaces. Shor is the author of numerous books, including: Critical Teaching and Everyday Life (1980), Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change (1992), When Students Have Power: Negotiating Authority in a Critical Pedagogy (1996), and a 1987 “talking book” with Paulo Freire at The Highlander Research Center, A Pedagogy of Liberation: Dialogues on Transforming Education. In our conversation on March 13, 2017 Shor offered his definition of critical pedagogy and his critique of mainstream practices in higher education, along with insights into risk-taking and creating just and democratic spaces in the classroom.

“We have been allowed to know only one definition of rigor, the authoritarian, traditional one, which mechanically structures education, and discourages us from the responsibility of recreating ourselves in society.” (A Pedagogy for Liberation, p. 77)

“Fear comes from the dream you have about the society you want to make and to unmake through teaching and other politics.” (A Pedagogy for Liberation, p. 56)