ERIC Number: ED247624
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984-Apr
Reference Count: 0
The Ideal and the Reality: Teaching Interpersonal Communication within the Walls.
Teaching interpersonal values in an "ideal" setting, such as a college classroom, differs greatly from teaching in a "real" setting, in this case a maximum security prison for males. The practice of prison indoctrination dehumanizes inmates, diminishes their self-esteem, and deprives them of positive role models. The nature of the collective prison psyche in a setting where physical and sexual abuses are a part of daily existence, makes meaningful human relationships virtually impossible. Fear of being killed, the loss of contact with valued others, and the risks involved in trusting either guards or fellow inmates reduce prison life to a continuing ordeal of intense loneliness. All of these aspects of prison life tend to minimize an individual's chances for successful reentry into normal society. A class in interpersonal communication brought a nonevaluative, nonhostile nook into a forbidding world and was therapeutic and restorative to the inmates who participated in it. The classroom, like a small society within a dreary subculture, enabled the inmate-students to develop a modicum of trust. The willingness of the inmates to expose their innermost thoughts in journals and their consistency in attending class suggests that the class fulfilled not only an academic but also an emotional need. (Excerpts from inmate journals are included throughtout the paper.) (FL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Central States Speech Association (Chicago, IL, April 12-14, 1984).